Sunday, August 10, 2008

Competition For Resources

Anyone who has been to the gas pump lately seems the impact of competition for resources. Due to rising global demand for energy, it is likely that oil will continue to be priced as high as the market will bear for probably the rest of my life.

The idea of government providing rebates or taking a pause from filling the strategic oil reserve only shows that most of our political leadership is more focused on treating the symptoms rather than the problem. A thought came to me is that a true government that is focused on serving its customers (that's us tax payers and citizens) should be looking for more novel solutions. We're already hearing lots of talk about alternative energy and developing renewable sources. How about we get a government mandate to set a deadline of not competing with its citizens for resources. What I mean by that is let's have all government vehicles use alternative fuels, all major buildings develop solar generating capability and let's see the government use the minimum amount of water possible through reclamation, rainwater collection and other means.

The government already represents over 20% of the Gross Domestic Product of the US. If they represent 20% of the energy and water use, just reducing that a portion is likely to provide relief for its citizens.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Inc. Magazine on Competitive Strategy

This blog is all about competitive strategy so I was interested in reading (belatedly) an article from the April 2008 issue of Inc. magazine about competitive strategy by columnist Joel Spolsky.

Joel makes an analogy about how a five minute speech made by an Army general taught him as much about business strategy as Michael Porter, the Harvard Business Review and a bunch of books by management consultants. The essence of the speech was "Fire and Motion" - you fire at the enemy and while they duck and avoid your shots, you move forward to another position.

I tend to agree with Joel that the competitive landscape is a fluid one. Today's advantage is tomorrow's me too proposition as many organizations are focused on knocking off innovators and trying to match their offerings. This is a fact of life and while it works for some (usually the largest competitors with huge ad budgets), a copy cat strategy is almost never a formula for success.

Buyer expectations have changed and I quote CSO Inisghts in a study that indicated that 83.7% of the firms they surveyed indicated that buyer expectations have increased over the past ten years partly due to the fact that prospective customers often review their options by comparing information posted on the Internet. For firms that don't have any points of difference or competitive advantages, it's easy to be overlooked.

I have been working with a company that has invested heavily in adding functionality and ease of use to SharePoint, Microsoft's web portal product. They have a number of enhancements and webparts that they have developed in the process of becoming a SharePoint expert. They had enough differences on their site( , that they were called by NASA to help them with their SharePoint strategy.

Coming up with innovative new and different features is not only a good competitive strategy, its a great strategy for survival and prosperity.