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Embrace the internet – Information is now a competitive asset

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Broadband Forum 2014 DICEIn my opinion, the 2014 Broadband Forum is a must-go-to event for both established companies and start-ups which are entertaining any serious dreams of attaining sustainable growth and market share in the internet driven environment.

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Why am I making this bold statement? This is simply because business processes, from productivity, management to marketing have all undergone dramatic and explosive changes that were triggered by the dot com revolution. Certainly it’s no longer business as usual as yesteryear’s strategies do not work so well now.

I like how Malcolm Frank describes these radical changes in his book Code Rules. According to him “no longer is business success based exclusively on size, scale and scope of smoke stacked factories and the steel, glass and cement of the industrial landscape. The traditional factors of production, such as raw materials, labor and capital, no longer form the basis of competitive advantage”. Indeed, Information has now definitely overtaken these traditional drivers of business success to become the undisputed competitive asset.

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A number of exciting case studies confirm this radical turn of events. For example, Apple, Google, Amazon and Netflix are the new kids on the block that punched above their weight and caused massive disruptions within their industries. They successfully knocked off big brands from their pedestals by creatively using data to gain market relevance and growth.

Apple and Samsung gained more than $600 billion in value between 2004 and 2012 whilst Nokia and Motorola, the former heavyweight champions, suffered a combined loss of $84 billion.

This is spine chilling evidence testifying to the fact that companies which fail to make use of data are caught at the crossroads, a compressed time period in which market leadership flips dramatically as their competitors learn to take advantage of data over hard assets. According to Malcolm “missing the turn means a long period of bad road that in many cases leads to what we call a corporate “Extinction Event” as experienced by Kodak, Newsweek and the DVD movie rental business.

Local companies stand to benefit from the massive investments in broadband infrastructure and the roll out of value add services in the country.

I have good news to all those who are wondering where all this valuable data comes from. The answer to that dilemma isactually quite simple. Data is being created around us 24/7 through production machinery, business IT equipment, at points of sale and by other forms of customer interactions and transactions.

For example in our personal lives we share information with social media sites, search engines, banks, online stores, and wearable devices. This creates data that can be used to form accurate impressions of who we are. This data was previously being created in offline settings and thus it was challenging to collect and manipulate it to fulfill specific business intents.

It is therefore unsurprising that managing on meaning – whereby companies use information to create the knowledge base that allows them to attain market leadership, is now a key business competency.  This is the only way to achieve business success

Some years back, the United States based MGI and McKinsey’s Business Technology Office conducted a research that unearthed the following game changing actionable insights:

  1. Big data creates value across all industry domains. For example, a retailer leveraging big data can increase its operating margin by 60%.
  2. Data is now an important factor of production, alongside labour and capital.
  3. Organisations boost performance by creating, storing and sharing data digitally.
  4. Big data enables the ever narrower segmentation of customers which in turn leads to tailor-made products or services.
  5. Analytics improves the decision making process
  6. Data can be used to innovate and refine a product or service.
  7. The use of big data is a key basis of competition and growth

To harness big data and analytics, companies should invest in SMAC Stack technologies which form the raw material of the big data and analytics acquisition processes. SMAC is an acronym that stands for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud computing. Investing in these technologies and diligently using them on a day to day basis will create the environment necessary for companies to attain competitive advantage.

Clearly, the dot com revolution is not for geeks or hippies but it has immense value for brands across different industry sectors and demands serious consideration and ultimately investment in.

This article was written by Joseph Neusu, a digital marketing specialist for Yookos which is an emerging social networking site headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is an avid researcher of digital media trends and best practices with special focus on the African markets. Joseph is a social media marketing trainer, consultant and writer and helps brands to build awareness, enhance their market penetration, promote the brand-client relationship and customer service. He can be reached on josephn@yookos.com


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