In this Thought Leadership blog, I will review the rapidly evolving digital ecosystem and how businesses can increase market competitiveness.
Let’s get right into this exciting topic and start by looking at the top players.
The most valuable brands in 2019 include Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Samsung, to name a few. Noteworthy mentions are the disruptors Uber, Netflix, Airbnb and Tesla.
How do some companies become high performing leaders?
Business competitiveness is about efficiency and increasing quality before you start promotions in the marketplace. Some businesses have teams, resources and capital but they face challenges when it comes to creating exceptional market value.
Harsh reality? Maybe. Innovation is not a buzzword but about high impact products or services.
What are the top players doing to dominate?
The leading businesses are busy creating systems, services or products that are exceptionally innovative in their industries.
Top performing brands already have loyal customers based on a history of providing what is valuable and cutting-edge. The macro market favors the basic economics of supply and demand. There is no magic marketing, shiny new process or secret sauce behind simply creating what is remarkably useful.
Market leaders earn customer buy-in by going the extra mile to exceed expectations. Especially in this digital age where your customers will tell each other what they think of you, your services and your products. They will post their reviews on their online social channels, share their experiences and truly digitally transform your reputation even if you decide to refrain from investing in digital marketing.
Few facts worth mentioning
Love them or hate them, technology giants mostly rank and stay at the top as they are integrated into daily business operations and day-to-day life. Convenience, connectivity and enhancing customer experience is what today’s hyper digitally connected market is looking for.
Quick brand case study
What next Apple?
Why is the Apple brand so enticing that its loyal customer base not only uses their products as a status symbol but they eagerly anticipate what will come next from their most favored brand (MVP)?
Here is the short answer - “Be a yardstck for quality. Some people aren’t used to an enviroment where excellence is expected.” Steve Jobs
Case in point
When people buy Apple products they expect its marketing to live up to the promise – value and quality delivered. Combined with sleek, clean and appealing design across brand image, user design, products, in-store, online and anywhere the Apple brand has a presence, you have a winning business.
I don’t want to start a debate but how many times have you seen a brand become almost cult-like in status and so highly valued in its target market?
Apple Brand - “Think different”
Need I say more on innovation?
Building a leading business in a hyper connected digital market
In this rapidly evolving dynamic technological market, top businesses are doing what they do best – they dominate by simply unleashing the best services or products out there and at lightning speed to market.
What are the rest of the businesses doing?
Most likely reading trending reports, latest insights, sitting in transformative meetings, entertaining that next big presentation that will be so cutting-edge for the company, copying or stealing IP, buying the new start up on the block, hyping up their internal employees, enforcing organizational culture new rules of the day, plotting the next earth shattering marketing campaign, hacking smaller competitors and so on.
Do you get the sense of chaos and confusion? And we are talking serious dollars being invested into this ‘transformation’ hype. Looking at the market leaders, they have already progressed beyond any latest trends reports, new break-through process or any recycled buzz. What will actually make a difference in the market is strategic execution and high performance initiatives.
What is your target market doing?
What I do know is that digital transformation happened. Just incase this has been missed, the average consumer is rather digital savvy from posting engaging content that sometimes goes viral and even starting entirely new trends.
Yes, harsh reality for some businesses. Your target consumers are already digitally transformed and socially engaged online. They are posting videos on YouTube, interacting on Facebook, sharing their stories, searching for products on Google, shopping on Amazon, using fancy app filters, engaging in group chats on WhatsApp, having fun on apps like TikTok, playing online games and so much more. You get the picture.
Nothing new - digital transformation, leveraging technology, innovation and sustainability have always been at the core of top performing brands.
Hyper focused marketing
What is accelerating is community interactivity on digital platforms. If your business does not have strategies to market hyper smart, it might be time to make some changes and get a fresh perspective. Not everything needs to be mass big agency, mass huge campaigns, mass big budgets or mass big technology systems.
The dynamics have evolved to more interactivity, one-on-one engagement, focused and niche digital ecosystems. You can’t hyper-personalize in a mass, big everything mindset. Compete with focused strategies to maximize your growth potential.
Brief example on being hyper focused
If you want to create a business and professional presence on LinkedIn, share content that aligns with your career or what your business does. It is more effective to provide target specific content rather than jumping onto the latest buzz, trends or general news story of the day.
Let’s face it, we have endless messages being thrown at us from all directions and all the time. Stand out by aiming to share content that is informative, new and target specific.
Disruptors are creating a whole new game
Disruptors such as Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Tesla and Netflix have leveraged software to create superior user experiences and products. We are looking at entirely new business models emerging with innovative platforms powered by software, emerging technology and Artificial Intelligence.
This leads into my next topic on Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The state of AI and a virtual world
Recently in an engaging panel discussion, Gerald Cupchik, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, highlighted interesting viewpoints related to AI, consciousness and creative imagination.
Are we moving into a virtual world based on AI, technology and engaging with our smart gadgets as a merging of our reality? Professor Cupchik pointed out that it is increasingly important to stop and critically think about boundaries between physical reality and virtual reality.
Most of us already rely on AI powered smart phones, smart assistants such as Alexa, smart cars, smart homes, healthcare apps, security systems, online banking, social platforms, digital news content, online customer support and more.
The point to keep in mind is that technology does not have the same context as human physicality, consciousness, creative intelligence, a subconscious mind or a history. As Professor Cupchik cautions, we need to be aware and alert about how we function in a virtual world that does not include human attributes such as taste, smell, emotions and thoughts.
An AI system can only pick up certain data based on algorithms. It cannot get the context and meaning behind human thinking, feelings or specific experiences. At least not yet! Even if we do get there, how accurately can a number and algorithm crunching system manage complex human beings.
AI for hyper marketing
Billions of dollars are being invested into AI by technology titans such as Google DeepMind, Facebook AI Research, Apple, IBM Watson, Baidu, and Amazon.
According to Salesforce, Marketers are using AI to gain valuable insights on customers, automating tasks and managing their workflows. Nearly half (51%) of marketers are already using AI… -- Salesforce.
Almost every customer interaction can now be a data touchpoint. This not only provides key insights on consumers but when done right, AI increases the relevancy of how businesses can tailor offers to best benefit their customers.
Data and privacy concerns
What remains challenging is how much data gathering and control of the data is appropriate. Giant platforms such as Facebook, Google and Amazon will need to continue to manage big data sensibly and ethically.
State of the cyber scene and the risks that come with it
There is an increasing amount of shocking data breaches, behind the scenes lawsuits for data theft, intellectual property theft, personal online privacy issues, hacking private information and unethical behavior.
The smaller guys, including you and me, collectively make up the market. As highlighted earlier, most of us are hyper engaged on digital channels and we are also doing our business online. This does put us at risk for digital exploitation by unscrupulous players.
Changing mindset towards lawful digital and cyber practices
In the Canadian province of Ontario, a case in the city of Brampton fell apart after it was established the RCMP illegally wiretapped communications. As reported in the Toronto Star, Superior Court Justice Cynthia Perterson dismissed charges based on illegal wiretap evidence and false testimony related to the investigation.
Emerging niche systems
There is an emergence in digital communities to innovate new structures that provide more control, respect for privacy and a sense of freedom to have ownership to some degree.
According to Bitcoin, Security and Privacy Consultant, Denis. Serebryakov, Bitcoin was created as hard money, the supply of which cannot be inflated to infinity at will (as opposed to fiat money). Bitcoin is a key example of new currency and a new payment network that is supported by a community based on their own set of parameters.
How can you make an impact, compete and lead?
Get beyond the hype generating, mass big everything mindset and start thinking in terms of creating exceptional value in your market. Focus on increasing your business interactivity and look at new tactics to strategize for future competitiveness.
Fill the gaps super fast
If you want to publish an insightful blog, create a winning marketing campaign or create a new model or system, work with the right person or hyper niche partner to get the job done fast. Not all big budget projects are equal and can actually slow you down.
Accelerate your business results by being highly efficient and managing your resources wisely. Hyper specific areas for growth will ensure you have the agility to execute quick in key areas that will help you lead.
We are reaching a level of hype based hysteria about digital transformation, technology and so on. You know your business best and have an idea of where you want to go. How well you can dominate in your market will require specific strategies, resources and new skills to help you innovate forward.
Resources to help smart businesses like you
For key insights and case studies order my book on Amazon
Make An Impact With Key Digital Marketing Strategies
Enhance your marketing and strategic skills
Apply for my High Impact Marketing Program
Engage with me for one-on-one competitive niche training
Watch the live TV panel discussion hosted by Hugh Rilley, with University of Toronto, Professor Gerald Cupchik, Thought Leader and Consultant Shai Az Digital, Bitcoin and Cyber Expert Denis Serebryakov.
For leading brands and competitive businesses the digital transformation has already happened. What we can see is that many consumers are quite digital savvy.
At 3.8 billion, the number of internet users comprise more than half of the world’s population. Mary Meeker, Internet Trends Report 2019
Competitive businesses have to execute fast, deliver strategies, implement innovation and keep up with macro market developments.
Download The Digital Marketing Review 2020
Adaptive businesses are thinking seriously about how to grow steadily and influence their markets whilst staying ahead in this digitally disrupted environment.
Reactive and short-term tactics are not sufficient enough to compete and lead in today’s hyper connected market. Knowing your macro-business environment and customer trends will determine your competitiveness.
Before we look at the top digital trends, here is a brief review of winning brands in 2019.
According to PricewaterCoopers (PwC) LLP the “market capitalization of the largest company worldwide has nearly tripled in the past ten years — from US$337bn in 2009 to US$905bn in 2019. The gap between the largest and smallest companies in the 100 largest public companies has continued to grow, currently at $806bn."
It should not be surprising that technology companies dominate at the top. Research from PwC lists Microsoft as the most valuable public company for the first time, after a seven-year reign by Apple.
Who are the top leading brands?
Recap: A brand is an intangible asset (name, term, design, symbol or any other feature) identifies one seller's product from another and is often a corporation's most valued asset. Strong brands enhance business performance primarily through their influence on three key stakeholder groups: (current and prospective) customers, employees and investors. They influence customer choice and create loyalty; attract, retain, and motivate talent; and lower the cost of financing. Source - Statista
The top most valuable brands in 2019 include Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Samsung, to name a few.
Technology companies most likely rank at the top as they are integrated into daily business operations and day-to-day life. Convenience, connectivity and enhancing customer experience is what today’s hyper digitally connected market necessitates.
Digital trends to advance your business and drive demand
Smart Businesses are always looking for creative ways to stay ahead and ensure future competitiveness. With messages bombarding us on multiple channels daily via many platforms from email, social media, personal online chats, news, advertising and more, we are constantly being disrupted.
Now you can imagine how this busy and digitally connected environment impacts businesses that want to engage with their customer base. Leading businesses know that marketing has to constantly evolve for growth and demand generation. Creating exceptional customer experiences and seamless user design should be the driving force of digital marketing.
Today's winning brands are impacting their target markets by leveraging latest technology, social media trends, creative marketing campaigns, working with the right talent, investing in resources for growth, deeper research, latest insights and so much more.
Top digital marketing channels
Digital marketing channels include email, websites, blogs, online chat apps, videos, video livestreaming, social media platforms, podcasts, search, voice search, online shopping and more. Winning businesses are leading by implementing innovative marketing on digital channels where their target customers are already engaged.
Mary Meeker, Bond Capital founder and former Kleiner Perkins general partner, highlighted some interesting trends in her acclaimed 333-slide Internet Trends report 2019.
Here are a few key highlights
Dynamic Social media marketing
Words have always been used to write, communicate, influence and share stories. What has changed is the interactivity on social platforms that now use images, videos and live streaming to communicate. Social media has influenced how we engage with each other, share our activities, tell our stories and more.
Effective social media marketing is based on how well you can get your message across and influence your target audience. Keep in mind that on social platforms attention spans are short and distraction is the norm. An article in Live Science explains “we get bored when we have difficulty paying attention to the internal information, such as thoughts or feelings, or outside stimuli required for taking part in satisfying activity…”
Smart social media marketing tips
Focused social media marketing strategy
Stand out in a noisy space by being relevant, having a unique voice and increasing engagement. Average brands tend to follow what their competitors and everyone else is doing or saying. Winning brands are focused on leading, being fresh and authentic.
If you want your target audience to pay attention and buy into your message, you have to create a strong brand presence by being timely, ahead and new. That is if you want to use social media for growth and not just to push average content in an already cluttered space!
Rise of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to showcase products
AR and VR present an exciting channel to enhance customer experience by integrating virtual content into the real world. Products can be viewed in an immersive format rather than flat images.
The AR market is expected to reach $133.78 billion in 2021. Global VR revenues are estimated to reach $75 billion by 2021. Greenlight Insights
The IKEA AR Place app and Shutterstock’s "View in Room" app for Apple mobile devices are good examples of how AR technology allows customers to view products in a more interactive layered context.
Social responsibility initiatives that make a difference
You earn a good reputation by not only delivering consistent and quality products but by going beyond to cultivate authenticity. Key factors for favorable brands include integrity, accountability and social awareness.
Zara, the leading fashion brand, has engaged in a series of sustainable initiatives. The apparel brand intends to stop using fibers that are from endangered forests to make fabrics by 2023. Zara plans to end its use of plastics and Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC). The apparel brand has implemented a “Join Life Collection” that includes eco-stores to underline the brand’s focus on sustainability and improved customer experience.
Amazon, the online retail giant, is donating products from sellers in the U.S. and U.K. They will be providing helpful items to people in need. Amazon will work with charity partners to manage logistics to streamline the donation process for independent sellers.
IKEA, the leading furniture brand, through its IKEA Foundation has contributed $8 million to McKinsey & Company’s Generation initiative to help youth develop skills. With the new resources, Generation will be equipped to train and recruit nearly 50,000 young professionals in India and Kenya.
Key Artificial Intelligence (AI) trends
AI is creating opportunities for businesses to increase efficiency, product innovation and hyper personalization. Data analytics, algorithms, voice search and language processing are a few examples of how marketers are using AI to gather information and create relevant marketing initiatives. AI based insights means marketers can dig deeper into the customer’s buying cycle, analyze behavior patterns and much more.
General AI is advancing
OpenAI is a research lab that was founded by Elon Musk and Sam Altman. OpenAI has a mission “to ensure that Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)—by which we mean highly autonomous systems that outperform humans at most economically valuable work—benefits all of humanity. We will attempt to directly build safe and beneficial AGI, but will also consider our mission fulfilled if our work aids others to achieve this outcome.” OpenAI.com
Microsoft recently invested $1 billion in OpenAI’s mission to advance General AI. The startup Lucidworks has raised $100 million to expand in AI-powered search-as-a-service.
Here are a few sources to help you stay ahead of AI and tech trends
Creativity and innovation delivered in the now
“But the big feature of human-level intelligence is not what it does when it works but what it does when it’s stuck.” — Marvin Minsky
Emerging technology, new digital tools and social platforms has changed customer demands. Dynamic customer experiences are based on hyper personalization across all channels that your customer is already engaged in, from emails, social media, shopping, website experience, customer service, social apps and more.
The questions is – how are you adding value to your customers, standing out in the market and driving demand compared to your competitors?
Smart brands such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, are constantly creating new tools and channels to keep their customers engaged by providing innovative customer experiences, services or products.
Customer interactivity in the new
Increasing your business interactivity requires specific strategies to help you maximize on your growth potential. This means looking into deeper research, dynamic digital campaigns, generating demand, reinventing your marketing, working with the right talent, latest industry insights and more.
To be competitive in a digitally disrupted environment, it is necessary to think of business sustainability and high impact marketing to ensure future growth.
For additional insights, winning marketing strategies, top digital trends, brand case studies and smart social media tactics, get your copy of my book on Amazon.