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YOUR COMPETITIVE EDGE

Your Competitive Edge
What is your competitive edge? How is your company different from all others? In what way does it stand out? Is there sustainable value that you can maintain and develop over time? The most classic of the competitive edges are those based on proprietary technology and protected by patents. A patent, an algorithm, even deeply entrenched know-how, can be a solid competitive edge. In services, however, the edge can be as simple as having the phone number 1 (800) SOFTWARE, which is an actual case.

A successful company was built around that phone number. Sometimes market share and brand acceptance are just as important. Knowhow does not have to be protected by patent to offer a competitive edge. For example, for years Apple Computer used its proprietary operating system as a competitive edge, while Microsoft used its market share and market dominance to overcome Apple’s earlier advantage. Several manufacturers used proprietary compression to enhance video and photographic software, looking for a competitive edge.
The competitive edge might bedifferent for any given company, even between one company and another in the same industry. You don’t have to have a competitive edge to run a successful business - hard work, integrity, and customer satisfaction can substitute for it, to name just a few examples - but an edge will certainly give you a head start if you need to bring in new investment. Maybe it’s your customer base, as in the case with Hewlett-Packard’s traditional relationship with engineers and technicians, or it’s image and awareness, such as with Compaq. Maybe your competitive edge is quality control and consistency like that of IBM.

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