Positioning to win

March 4, 2013

Publisher Len Rust

In the fast changing world of technology many forces are at play today. CEOs of the legendary vendors are taking positioning seriously, they make a choice to be different, purposely positioning their companies to create or disrupt a market category. They know the real power of marketing is to catapult the company into a dominant, definable position in a trendy category and hopefully seeking higher growth rate margins than their competitors.

Commoditisation, “The Internet of Things” and the dramatic growth in intelligent device adoption are forcing many vendors to go through an enormous transformation. The vendors mainly are saying it’s going to be a year for I.T. execs to refocus on revenue growth versus cost savings and a return to innovation and growth. The empowered buyers though are now taking more time to make each decision and are using a wider variety of sources to make that decision. Today with online resources, peer communities and social resources buyers now have more independent sources of information and as a result expectations are elevated beyond mere sales pitches to value-added consultative advice.

For marketing departments, the time of high spending across a wide assortment of programs has given way to bare-bones budgeting. It’s not that marketing’s overall charter has changed, but its funding levels clearly have. We are in interesting times, who wins the next round though is becoming harder to predict because the rules and the markets are somewhat fuzzy.

Nearly half a dozen vendors have announced new tablets for markets for this year already. Companies are taking different product strategies in response to declining PC consumer sales and the increasing mobile-computing demands. Mobile technology is expanding the digital frontiers far beyond what was even imaginable a year or so ago.

Keynote speakers at many recent events have been united in extolling the merits of mobility, the cloud, big data, the internet of many things and of course broadband and security. The Kickstart 2013 conference on the Sunshine Coast last week certainly highlighted that there is no shortage of issue to be discussed when we delve into the technology trends shaping 2013.

Inside organisations there are fewer servers being sold these days, that’s partly due to the consolidation created by virtualisation and also because not all computing is actually being done in-house anymore. Moreover users may not need all the features of software applications which increasingly will put pressure on the traditional software vendors. We wonder what else may be seen as dinosaurs in the future, this will leave vendors in a quandary about what to do and given many of their recent moves it appears they will be reaching far beyond their normal market sectors.

Today it amazes me at the many conferences and media events that I attend, when so many firms are concerned with brand building and brand equity, why are we still seeing so many techno-slogans that blur the value proposition of the brand? Why spend money on tagline trivialities that confuse customers rather than intrigue or provoke them? Brand equity does not live in the quality or character of a company’s product or service; it lives in the relationship between the vendor and its customers. Relationships define brands and brands define relationships.

Information technology is not in itself an indicator of the new economy, what is extremely important is how technology is being used to create new business models and increase our productivity. Information can be used to transform old industries into world leaders in areas such as agricultural research, mining, medical devices, fast services and the like. The challenge for us is to tell new stories about Australia in new ways. Australia is also an early adopter of new technology, e.g. the internet, mobile phones, the cloud etc. In a marketing sense we should also not sell the Australian performance short as a new economy player driven by technology.

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Martin Shanahan, CEO, IDA Ireland