On more than one occasion lately, I’ve had the opportunity to hear innovators speak about “the competition” as something that they welcome and who can help them advance their own market footprint. A contrary concept in our culture that has often embraced the great stories of opposing rivals: Pepsi vs Coke, Apple vs Microsoft, McEnroe vs Borg. Yet these modern day pioneers of industry welcome the presence of other players in the market and even look for ways to collaborate.
Helps with Market acceptance of the innovation
One of these is Robert Wong, COO of Agri-Neo. I heard him speak at a Meet the Entrepreneurs event at Mars Discovery District last fall.
The concept was put forward simply. When what you are developing is so innovative that you are developing something not previously envisioned, having other players do something similar helps build credibility for your product. If you are the only one exposing a novel idea or product, then people may not listen. If there is more than one voice promoting new concepts, then the market may be more willing to embrace and adopt the new ideas.
They don’t call it bleeding edge for nothing. Often the initial wave of innovation is not successful because although they advance an industry, there can be a lag in the market acceptance of the new product. Sharing this bleeding edge with other companies can lesson these risks.
Competitive Analysis can help innovators identify new Markets
Innovation can take many forms. Companies these days often innovate by creating new markets or finding more refined segments to existing markets. Rather than re-invent the wheel, these companies are trying to find new uses for the wheel or trying to identify people who didn’t know the wheel can help them.
Performing competitive analysis can help with identifying and sizing up these opportunities.
Industry collaboration can make everyone’s job easier
Having initially cut my teeth on internet and telecom standards, it surprises me sometimes that other industries have not embraced standardization.
In a standards based world, innovation can often take the shape of companies partnering in industry forums to establish a shared language in which to operate. The standards often are around ways that the independent products interface with each other, or allow others to layer other applications or products on top of these standards. There is still room for variations in product quality and customer service, and as a result market share.
I heard Shane Logan of the Telus CTO office speak recently about the Telus network APIs. In the presentation he also talked about how Telus helped pioneer, along with Bell and Rogers, a common API interface, One API, which enables developers to build applications that can be easily deployed on any of these networks. An award winning shared approached that helped advanced the mobile industry.
This is an example of how companies, normally fierce competitors, can work together to create something in the industry that helps them and their 3rd party customers to more efficiently deliver a better product to the end customer.
For me, it’s all comes down to whether you have an abundance or scarcity attitude. An abundance attitude fosters idea that great things promote more and more great things, and there is room for us all to share. Scarcity fosters distrust and fear that the other guy will steal our share. I believe if you are confident and competent about what you are doing then there is room in the sandbox for us all to play together.