Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Interoperability, third party provider support and first mover advantage – 8

Posted in business and convergent technologies, outsourcing and globalization by Timothy Platt on March 28, 2012

This is my eighth installment in a series on unique value propositions and sources of unique value in individual businesses, with a focus on businesses as they function in supply chains and larger value chains, and in complex business and economic ecosystems (see Outsourcing and Globalization, postings 15-21 for parts 1-7.)

In series Part 6 and Part 7 I discussed the roles of:

• Interoperability and operational connectivity,
• Support between member businesses within the supply chain, and
• Third party provider support from consultants and consulting businesses that can help to optimize supply chain efficiency and effectiveness through import of validated best practices.

I add the issues of time frames and first mover advantage into this mix with this installment. And as a starting point to that, I repeat a basic truth that I cited when starting my series Keeping Innovation Fresh: “everything was an innovation once.”

• Sources of business effectiveness and competitive advantage, and even unique sources of such value have shelf lives.
• They can spread and become standard practice, and when enough businesses in any given marketplace adapt the same innovations they cease to be innovations and simply blend into business as usual.
• Or they fade out of relevance as the context they would apply to becomes marginalized and outdated, and fades away. Markets and customers change and so do their basic needs and wants, and best methods for meeting old and perhaps no longer valid conceptions of the marketplace become detriments when still adhered to.

So one of the most powerful tools for finding and securing competitive advantage, and at either the individual business or the supply chain level is to know when the old has to be supplanted with the new and even the disruptively New, and how to make that change happen. Here, disruptive in “disruptive innovation” means the broom that sweeps away a no longer competitively advantageous past, and hopefully before its ongoing tenure into obsolescence has led to loss of competitive edge.

• First mover advantage enters in here. But just as importantly, the setting aside of what that New would supplant, is important too.

And this simultaneously presents itself as a trite generalization and as one of the most complex and thought requiring challenges that a business can face when tried-on in practice.

• The old, familiar and thoroughly vetted and validated is comfortable and it is never easy to move from a tried and true comfort zone into the unknown. Any adaptation of a disruptive New calls for at least something of a leap into the unknown and regardless of due diligence and market and operational analyses and predictions on paper.
• That applies when the innovator is a single business and it is simply attempting to keep its own systems and operations, and its own products and serves current and even ahead of the curve for what the competition is doing, and that it remain market-competitive for doing so.
• This becomes a much more complex challenge when it means a business operating in supply chain systems seeking to influence partner businesses and potential supply chain partner businesses to take that leap with them.
• Ultimately, a reputation for innovative success in prior supply chain endeavors is the strongest argument for promoting new and even disruptively new supply chain level best practices and for implementing them.
• And the best argument for doing this that first time at the supply chain level is an established reputation for successfully, creatively developing new and emergent sources of value in-house and in making the individual business competitively successful.
• These sources of proven value-potential provide due diligence ammunition for arguing the case for change and for taking that leap. And success goes to the business and to the supply chain that takes that leap and the right leap – with this more crucially important, the faster changing the marketplace and the industry that supplies it. Change per se only becomes unimportant in moribund and fading industries and in stagnant and closing market spaces.

And I find myself coming back in my thoughts to the two case studies that I wrote of earlier in my Keeping Innovation Fresh series ( seePart 2: Xerox PARC and Menlo Park and Part 3: Xerox PARC and Menlo Park, continued as found in Business Strategy and Operations – 2.) The success in one case and failure in the other to bring innovation from an innovation center to their own systems for marketable product design, production, marketing and sales affected the success of these businesses as individual organizational entities. But this also facilitated or limited their ability to present themselves more effectively as viable business partners for participating in supply chains and in the larger business ecosystem as a whole. This also made them more or less attractive business partners for the best supply chain partners to want to connect with and do business with. So in several respects this series is in fact that series, as played out at a higher organizational and inter-organizational level.

This is my last installment in this series, at least for not though I am sure to come back to the issues that it brings up, in future postings. Meanwhile, you can find this posting and series at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and at Outsourcing and Globalization as the supply chain and value chain business ecosystems that are discussed here are increasingly global in reach and participation. You can also find related postings at Business Strategy and Operations and its continuation page, Business Strategy and Operations – 2.

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