Information | Competitive Advantage

7 Ways to Use Information as a Competitive Advantage

Buzz words in room

“The information revolution is sweeping through our economy. No company can escape its effects.”

~ Michael E. Porter ~

Client Dorothy Asks:  I work in IT.  Of course I’m surrounded by a world of information. But as you know, it’s a cut-throat business with thin margins.  How can I use our information to create a competitive advantage for us?

Coach Joel Answers: It may sometimes feel like we have information overload.  However, we may lack the right information, not know how to process it, and not understand what to do with it after we understand it.

It is essential to have information based on some specific criteria to create the best competitive advantage to you. Here are some areas to consider.

  1. Look at the trends.  First, of course, you want to examine trends in your own industry.  But you can also learn a lot by looking at factors that are influencing other industries. You may find advancement there—in technology or information processing—that you can use to gain an edge on the competition.
  2. Analyze what your competitors are doing. Do you see fast moving companies?  What’s generating that growth?  Is it something you can copy?  What do you see as their competitive edge?  How can you improve on it for your own company?
  3. Listen to your clients. One of the ways to success is to give your clients exactly what they want and need. The only way you’ll learn this is by spending time with your clients.  Don’t try to sell them stuff.  Just listen and ask questions.  You want to understand their business and their needs.
    Then get your salespeople and designers together and create solutions for their problems. This strategy will allow you to beat out your competition by turning your clients’ problems into an advantage for your company.
  4. Look for disruptive factors. The world is changing at a rapid pace.  Things we’ve done suddenly become obsolete. What technological advancements are likely to make your company obsolete if you don’t change?
    Have you insisted on in-person training for your products? Take advantage of innovative online video training. Perhaps couple it with access to coaching 24/7. Master information transfer this way, and you save travel costs and boost the efficiency of your current trainers.
  5. Avoid bias. As you take in your information, how do you adjust for bias?  Every information recorder or human processor carries his or her own bias or agenda.  You can’t eliminate it, but it helps to know it’s there so you can adjust.
  6. Process correctly. You know how quickly information changes.  So you need a method of processing the information quickly.  It needs to arrive in a useful format. You may not be able to offer the material in different ways to suit the desires of each executive.  So it may take training to help your executives understand how to process the facts they are given.
    If they don’t understand the information, its value or how to use it, you’ve lost the battle to beat out your competitors.
  7. Take Advantage.  All the knowledge and information based technology won’t help you if you don’t use it. Look for ways to improve your product. Check possibilities to create more value for your existing clients and how to expand your market to new ones. Employ innovations that step up your company in skills, prestige, and achievement.

I applaud you for not underestimating the value of information. Based on what you’ve learned, you should be able to gain and keep an advantage over your closest competitors.

If you’re looking for ways to make sense of the information you have to boost your strength against your competition, contact Joel.

Talkback: How have you used information to gain an edge over others in your field?

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