Companies are doing an increasingly good job of ensuring that their software investment enhances their competitive advantage. Businesses have moved beyond the “we need an application” stage. Many leaders still are looking for the next big thing. You might hear “We need blockchain” or “Do you have machine learning capabilities?”
Innovation is an important competitive advantage for your company. It’s okay to try out different software solutions in order to enhance your competitive edge. For most people, however, leading with technology can feel more like putting the horse before the cart.
It is impossible to use all emerging technologies. Jeffrey Funk, a technology consultant, found many of the latest artificial intelligence solutions aren’t as useful as they seem. Focus your software development efforts on achieving impactful goals if you want to make your business more efficient and enhance the value of all your operations.
Finding the Real Differentiator
How do you determine if your competitive advantage is evident in software investments? You must be clear about your competitive advantage before you can start. Is that what you’ve written? Does that reflect reality? Are your customers willing to agree?
You might think of yourself as an innovator, but it doesn’t matter what your customers think. They may view you as a mere scale player with high switching expenses. You need to either align your vision with reality or change people’s perceptions.
Understanding users’ perceptions
Data can help you see where opinions are coming from. Software offers many data points that are not readily available in other business-enabling software. It is important to use these data points to assess whether your competitive advantages are being realized. Is customer service your differentiator? Do you see that in your self-service or support statistics? Consider network effects. What number of hooks do you see in other systems per client?
You can also use qualitative data to determine if your end-users are feeling the same way as you would expect. To gauge customer satisfaction and service, it’s worth looking at consumer websites and message boards that are relevant to your business. Is it consistent with your expectations, despite some exceptions? You can identify your strengths and explore technology opportunities that will increase your competitive advantage.
Leveraging Software Development
Software development is not something you should take lightly. It requires significant investments. It can bring many benefits to your business. Here are some ways to make sure your software is able to support your business’ operations and increase its value.
1. Be proud of your strengths
The nature of the market means that competitive advantages diminish over time. They pay off and improve your position. Competitors will follow you. However, all is not lost. You can keep your competitive edge by continuing to innovate on your core strengths. Software that is both internal- and exterior-facing can be a key to increasing your value.
Software development is not something that happens overnight. You’ll need to be careful when investing in technology.
Technology is often used by companies to increase their competitive edge. They focus on one area of business, such as customer relationships or human resources. Customer relationship management systems, for example, can help to centralize communications and allow customers to share their knowledge. These insights can be used to segment customers and then deliver more personal experiences.
You could also consider investing in technology to support HR. This department could benefit from software that provides insight into the available staff. This can improve employee satisfaction and support retention efforts. You can identify your core strengths and choose an area that you would like to support with software solutions.
2. Facilitate customer interactions
Customers increasingly seek digital ways to communicate with businesses. Individuals will expect prompt responses if they have any issues or concerns. Not just chatbots or phone menus. People want to be able to communicate with workers who can provide personalized assistance if the problem is too complicated for automation. This area of operations should not be left to digital touchpoints. It will only hinder your customer engagement strategy.
Customer engagement software facilitates and centralizes communications with customers. These solutions use a variety of touchpoints and channels to facilitate customer interactions and offer a personalized end-to-end experience. It is much easier to use conversational marketing and build a social media presence to deliver targeted messaging to your target audience.
Customer data is a great way to find out what your audience needs and wants.
It is possible to also go to the source to get feedback via surveys or questionnaires. Ask customers what they think about your products and services and find out if there are any issues.
3. Pay attention to how employees use tools.
Your employees should anticipate the use of digital tools to improve their productivity and simplify their daily responsibilities. If you don’t invest in technologies that enable your tasks the lack of support can be a deterrent for your workplace. Many companies seem to be struggling on this front, especially with communication tools. A Slack survey found that 31% of workers are satisfied with the tools they have. 71% of workers expect more tools in the future.
You can avoid similar problems by identifying your strengths. Next, create a technology strategy to expand those advantages into the future. Consider the user experience if you are going to software development.
Workflow software must always be tailored to the needs of your organization.
The competitive advantage may be lost and the software solution could even be discarded in favor of more homegrown solutions.
4. Do not reinvent the wheel.
You wouldn’t expect anyone to ask you to create a new word processor. You shouldn’t think about creating a new instant messenger unless it is embedded in other tools that meet people where they are.
Think about smart and you have to make a purchase now, rather than wait until later.
Take a look at the configurations you can make with commercial off-the-shelf solutions to meet your business requirements. Although it may not be as flexible, off-the-shelf commercial software can still be useful for solving today’s problems. You can also explore custom software options if your needs change.
While the world is becoming increasingly digital, you shouldn’t just invest in technology. You should instead focus on software development projects that increase your competitive edge.