Keeping up with the little guys

SukkiThe following is a guest post by Sukki Sandhar, a London-based technology executive with extensive experience in the global wireless telecom market in business development, sales and industry marketing. Sukki’s years of both product and customer-facing work in a highly dynamic technology space give him great insights into how software is created, sold and used. 

Twins fighting it outHaving duplicate products and technologies in an organisation is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it is an excellent idea.

We see it happening all the time through acquisition:  Multiple small competing products being actively positioned by the same company whilst they work out what to do with the existing one(s) and the newly acquired company.  At worst it is perceived by customers as a confused strategy and detrimental to success. No one can say who will sink and who will swim.

But when big companies buy up smaller ones there’s always a motive, even if it isn’t apparent.  Organizations buy up others either by choice or necessity, acquiring companies to secure market position or to wipe the competition from existence. Once the purchase is complete, keeping competing technologies alive as separate lines of business within a big corporate organisation is not always a bad thing. In fact, it’s sometimes a pretty healthy state.

Survival instinct

Competing products, just like small companies, vie for the same business and this promotes the kind of competitive edge and survival instincts typically associated with much smaller companies. The nimble responses that come from working hard for success cause competing software in the same enterprise to reinvent and provide inspiration to other parts of the organisation. It creates a cultural advantage.

Beyond the front end of marketing and selling, it offers a way to compete on process and improvement in design and development on the backend. Multiple laboratories, each doing potentially break-through things.

Corporations usually end up killing one of the companies in the longer run and that may make sense however, why rush into that decision? Working out supremacy is an interesting experiment of nature.  If competing companies and products were left a little longer to fight it out amongst themselves a better corporate decision might ensure.  Waiting for the inevitability of the ‘survival of the fittest’ until one of them become so weak the choice is clear.  It might mean that products actually survive the fight as ways to solve slightly different problems.

Letting technologies compete also replicates more closely what actually happens in nature. This Darwinian approach is the perfect way to outmaneuver the highly maneuverable little guys. Yes, there is a cost but we need to be taking a long view when it comes to strategy that makes for better decisions and a more productive one workplace.

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Categories: Continuous Improvement, Information Technology

Author:Jeanne Roué-Taylor

I'm fascinated by disruptive technology and its impact on our world. I manage sales operations for an excellent startup with a unique team of highly experienced data scientists.

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2 Comments on “Keeping up with the little guys”

  1. December 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    Great piece, Sukki. Companies need to stay innovative, and there are few better ways than to feel like there’s a threat to survival. The little guys innovate because they have to and the big guys become bureaucratic and lazy because they can afford to. Competing products…why not?

  2. Peter Johnston
    December 7, 2012 at 2:54 am #

    The Beatles sold more as four separate individuals than they ever did as The Beatles.

    What is more important is a single process underpinning both brands.

    We did this recently with a Bank which had taken over a Building Society and offered basically the same product through both brands.

    Without either losing their identity, we simplified and unified the process underneath. We actually took out over 60% of the process, saving over £1m in the first year and giving better customer service and reducing time to mortgage approval from weeks to hours.

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