Shrinking Windows of Opportunity: Why Speed to Market is as Important as Innovation
Posted by Taj Onigbanjo
Each year, Forbes ranks the 100 most innovative companies in the world. Examples of 2015’s honorees include international giants such as Tesla Motors (U.S.), Hermès International (France) and Reckitt Benckiser Group (UK). These organisations make it their business to stay one step ahead of the competition, bringing new ideas to market quickly and efficiently.
What They Do Right
Though these masters of innovation are subject to the same pressures as any other retail company — changing consumer behavior and extraordinary competition for every dollar — they consistently manage to harness creativity and move from concept to market before similar businesses have an opportunity to launch a rival product.
These champions have learned that the length of time it takes competitors to duplicate their most innovative ideas is shrinking, which means that getting product enhancements to market quickly is critical to success. Understanding their secrets to swift change management can make the difference between leading your industry and barely hanging on against more flexible competitors.
The Forbes model of calculating innovation involves finding the difference between a company’s market capitalisation and the net present value of cash flows from existing businesses. These results show which organisations investors predict will be future market leaders.
In one telling example, rumors of bold new features on the Tesla Model 3 have already suppressed sales of the Nissan Leaf, though Tesla’s creation won’t come to market until 2017. The Leaf has been a global leader in electric cars, but a failure to capitalise on existing momentum will cost the company dearly. Tesla’s ability to bring next-generation capabilities to consumers guarantees the company early differentiation in the electric car arena. Though Nissan may react quickly to duplicate Model 3 technology, Tesla’s head start could leave Nissan lagging behind.
A 179-year-old company isn’t usually the first you think of when it comes to digital marketing, but Hermes Paris has no intention of losing its position as a leading retailer of luxury goods. The business begins with “creative craftsmanship,” according to former CEO Axel Dumas, but it doesn’t rely on its centuries-old reputation to stay on top. Hermes is known has an innovator when it comes to marketing the brand.
Across every channel, from traditional print ads to digital advertising, Hermes continues to create an aura of mystery that none of the competition can duplicate. Staying relevant in a time when targeted advertising has transformed the marketing world is no easy feat. Only a company that can quickly understand where consumers are going and arrive a few steps ahead can keep competitors away.
Many companies with strong brands trust that their products will stay popular long-term — regardless of investment in research and development. Reckitt Benckiser Group, owner of dozens of home and health brands, doesn’t take success for granted. Profits continue to climb year after year due to product enhancements.
Typically, improvements are introduced to address specific consumer needs as identified through company-led studies. Reckitt Benckiser Group quickly moves product modifications from concept to market, ensuring that they are in consumers’ hands before tastes change again.
Harnessing data on consumer spending is key to staying ahead in the tight race to bring the right products to market at the right time. New technology offers more visibility into spending habits than ever before. Platforms such as Unit4 Financials give real-time data on every financial facet of the business allowing business leaders at every level of the organisation to stay on top of trends, ensuring that innovative products make it to market before the window of opportunity closes.
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