By Jeff Johnson: Do you have the competitive advantage? What does it even mean in your business life? It means “A superiority gained by an organization or person when it can provide the same value as its competitors but at a lower price, or can charge higher prices by providing greater value through differentiation. Competitive advantage results from matching core competencies to the opportunities.”
Let me give you an example. As a Data Platform Director for a rapidly expanding consulting firm, I need to make sure my team maintains a competitive advantage over my competition. If I don’t, there would be no reason a company would choose my team over some other team or a resource they could get from a body shop. Growing my portion of the business would be very difficult or even impossible.
The way I have built my practice enables me to both maintain a competitive advantage based on price AND on differentiation. The thing to do when building a team is to build the strongest team you can. I have spent many years working with some of the best talent in the world. I have done countless engagements for Microsoft and with the largest and most tech savvy companies in the world. Each and every engagement I have lead has been a success. Through those engagements, I have gained the reputation, both with my customers and the owners of the companies I have worked for, of being able to do “the impossible”. How is this done? It’s done by having a great team. Anything I have ever accomplished is by working with the best of the best. While they might be more expensive there is no doubt they are worth every penny. This is what enables me to compete with the best consulting companies out there but more importantly at a much cheaper price. I truly believe my team can do at least as much or better than any team you will ever find.
The second avenue to competitive advantage is differentiation. Can my team compete with the offshore consulting companies or the onshore body shops? If it’s price alone, the answer is no. But if you add the differentiation aspect, it’s a resounding YES. The fact is that I and my team flat out perform way better than the average run of the mill resource you find. That’s why it typically takes me personally interviewing over 20 candidates that seem to be well qualified on paper to find the right person for my team. I insist my people know more, maintain superior quality and produce at a higher, faster rate. This means I can do the same project with less people, get it done sooner, reduce time spent in meetings, and produce superior quality results. To my customers it means meeting their key initiatives on time and within budget and lowering overall maintenance time and effort.
How does this apply to you? You need to always look at what your competitive advantage is. That means taking an honest hard look at yourself and discovering what it is that you bring to the table. If you are still doing the things the same way you have always done them, chances are you’re losing your advantage every day. I know it’s hard to stay current in the fast paced technology business, but it’s something you have to do. You don’t ever want to become a commodity. You have to constantly be raising your own bar. Read articles, study for certifications, and/or join user groups. Do whatever it is you have to do to remain relevant. Remember this quote always:
“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”