How Can I Compete When I Don’t Know Who My Competitors Are?

Dinesh Sharma

As digitization continues to revise the rules of business, it is getting harder to tell who your competitors are. Not only are startups popping up seemingly overnight, but well-established industry leaders are also expanding beyond their own industries and regions.

Executives are becoming increasingly bullish Woman Shopping Online --- Image by © Laura Doss/Corbisabout entering new markets and growing the workforce to support that strategy. Twenty years ago, most stakeholders would consider this plan overly ambitious, possibly even showing signs of nervousness. However, this approach is now becoming the new normal – thanks to the digital economy and the emergence of business networks.

3 ways the digital economy can help you compete in a volatile market of new players

The core changes powered by the digital economy are real and powerful. For example, social and business networks are ubiquitous and easy to use. When these networks are catalyzed by the imminent mass adoption of low-cost sensor technology and abundant computing power, data can be instantaneously generated, processed, stored, and accessed anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

In the end, the competitive value of the digital economy lies in the promise of disrupting traditional value chains to achieve the highest efficiency possible when servicing the customer.

Here are three ways the digital economy can help you accomplish this:

  1. Seize the breakdown of traditional barriers. In this new era of hyperconnectivity, companies can more easily reach consumers individually, even those in far-off lands. More important, they have more flexibility when accessing new suppliers that can help build the product locally to meet increasing demand. Furthermore, to maintain supporting headcount growth, highly skilled contingent labor is bringing immense value when meeting short-term demand.
  1. Embrace the proliferation of sensors and real-time analytics. It is possible for organizations to become hyperconnected without additional expenditure. The net result is that companies adopting digital transformation strategies are poised to win in a vacillating competitive landscape. By integrating incumbent industry knowledge with digital technology, they can place their traditional competitors at a significant disadvantage moving forward.
  1. Accelerate the adoption of new digital technology. For a long time, most companies were trapped in different parts of a value chain that seemed to be enshrined. However, today we see enterprises that are breaking free from these constraints. With this freedom comes the opportunity to disrupt internally and the industry as well as delivering the most streamlined way to get products and services to market.

Now that you have insight into competing in a landscape where your competitors can be virtually anyone and everyone, stay tuned for Part 3 of this series, which answers the question: When did my customer start knowing more about me than I know about them?

In the meantime, check out the latest research, statistics, and opinions about the digital economy and its impact.

For more customer-focused strategies, see 4 Ways to Make Customer Experience the Heart of Your Business.

About Dinesh Sharma

Dinesh Sharma is the Vice President of Digital Economy at SAP. He is a GM-level technology executive with leadership, technical innovation, effective strategic planning, customer and partner engagement, turnaround management and focused operational execution experience at both large enterprise and startup companies. Share your thoughts with Dinesh on Twitter @sharmad