It was with interested that I read that Google stopped censoring search results in China today. Not that I was happy about it; at the end of the day, regardless of what your ideological beliefs may be, a country has the right to its own sovereignty and the right to make its own laws. However, the nature of the Web is pervasive and this is something that the world must come to terms with. Deep down, I agree with Google’s stance; if I decide to search for “best acne treatment“, I should get the same sort of results, regardless of where in the world I am; likewise if I search for “China militant leaders”. Ranking results based on factors like geographical proximity is one thing, but mapping results onto the ideologies of the current leaders of a country just wouldn’t cut it for me.
Now the question is, what will China do next ?
The GPS market is an example of how market leaders cannot sit on their laurels. If you had to ask someone who the leaders in the GPS field were six months ago, they would have mentioned Garmin and TomTom. However, a few months ago, Google entered the market offering free turn-by-turn navigation on their phones, followed by Nokia giving away navigation software for their phones. Have a look at Garmin’s 6 month stock graph and see if you can spot when that happened:
Regardless of which market you operate in, whether you are in the business of selling toasters or searching for the best auto insurance quote around, just because you’re the market leader, there’s no reason to suspend innovation. Everything can change from one day to the next.
Here’s an interesting development that emerged today. Google has announced a free turn-by-turn navigation product, which is placed bang square in TomTom and Garmin‘s target market. As you can imagine this has wrecked havoc to the share price of existing sat nav companies.
It’s a tough reminder that your market share can be here one day and gone the next. Innovation is the name of the game here, and unless these companies have something new and exciting that consumers will find compelling, I’m afraid it’s curtains for them. They’ll be as useful as an rv towing company in Antarctica; if there are no clients around, that’s going to spell disaster for the company.
It will be an interesting one to watch, not for sat nav companies though!
Strategic planning is a valuable exercise for most businesses, however it is also laced with risk due to the scope of the activity. I came across a great article that talks about the four most common fatal flaws in this process and wanted to share it just to spread the word. Here are the most common fatal flaws in strategic planning:
- Skipping Rigorous Analysis: Performing incomplete analysis (or skipping the analysis step) is a sure recipe for disaster. Make sure you examine your problem, your landscape and your organisation from all sides otherwise you can miss what later on will seem exceedingly obvious.
- Believing Strategy can be built in a day: Strategies evolve, there’s no two ways about it. A strategy is not an idea that everyone can get behind, but is the product of thought, deliberation and experience. Give the process the time it deserves.
- Failing to Link Strategic Planning with Strategic Execution: A common problem is to come up with a great strategy, but mess up the execution. A strategic plan needs to be carried out by the whole organisation, so make sure you communication strategies are in place, as well as control mechanisms to make sure everyone “get’s it”.
- Dodging Strategy Review Meetings: It is terribly easy to focus entirely on the forumation of a strategy and try to avoid reviews and checkpoints that are set up after. Remember, a strategy is only as successful as it’s execution and review meetings are there to provide a feedback loop as to it’s success (or failure).
I thought the article was a great read and a reminder for anyone working in a strategic capacity. Once you get into the swing of things it’s easy to stay on the treadmill, but strategy in itself involves taking time out to take an external look at what you’re doing. Make sure your benchmark rings true and you’re in for a treat. Omit that important follow-through and in time, everything will come crashing down.
Read the article here: Four Fatal Flaws of Strategic Planning
One advantage that the Internet brings to Business is the ability to focus exclusively on a particular niche. The reason behind this thinking is that the Internet allows you to scale your clientèle to a global level so reducing the focus of your business to a small segment still remains commercially viable.
So, for example, an online jeweler can target customers who are interested in titanium or tungsten rings, omitting the standard gold or diamond segments. Or you may seek treatment information on Plantar Fasciitis from a website that deals exclusively with footwear and foot conditions, rather than visiting a pharmacy who will not have detailed information about your condition.
It’s all pretty interesting when you think about the scope it gives potential retailers in the area. It allows organisations and individuals to become experts in a particular subject-matter rather than trying to generalise to increase their sales.
Interesting post by Kevin Kelly who believe the drivers in today’s emerging economy can be distilled into the statement: Where ever attention flows, money will follow. It’s an interesting idea which is hard to negate, as can be evidenced by new giants like Googe, Amazon and eBay. Here’s an interesting section:
New things that don’t work or serve no purpose are quickly weeded out of the system. But the fact that something does work or is helpful is no longer sufficient for success. Good, useful stuff is now the minimum standard. I might even make the argument that great stuff is the minimum. Now anything that lasts has to also maintain our attention.
And when it wins our attention, money will follow. Money is one way we acknowledge our attention. We “want” something — an intense form of attention — and we use money to fulfill this attention. Using the product or service is a continuation of that attention. Recommending it others is a further extension of that attention.
bbgm likens this to Peter Druckers take on innovation, but I think a closer line can be drawn to Seth Godin‘s “Be Remarkable” mantra. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling ball bearings or you’re a satellite internet provider or just looking to become the world’s most influential geek, attracting and maintaining attention can be the key to your success.