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Seek Sustainable Competitive Advantage Amid Industry Change

Seek Sustainable Competitive Advantage Amid Industry Change

February 18, 2014

As I’ve said before, it’s critical for distributors to embrace competitive threats rather than run from them. Find what works for you and don’t rush to adopt every latest greatest thing.

A recent blog from the Harvard Business Review reinforces this idea, saying that strategy is about balancing your existing competitive advantage with new ideas and technologies. But don’t ignore the change that’s happening around you. “They must pay it attention because it may contain the seeds of their eventual destruction,” writes Roger Martin of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto in Canada. He is also author of Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works.

In my introduction to our MDM Special Report, The Shifting Competitive Landscape in Distribution, I wrote that no company should outright ignore traditional and long-standing competitors. But because of an increasing pace of change, thanks in part to technology, distributors need to think outside the competitive box when considering their next moves.

Martin writes for HBR that there is plenty of time to figure out what to do next. He cites several examples of technologies – such as the mouse – that were around for as long as decades before they became the norm. That doesn’t mean you ignore those technologies or shifts; it just means that you can take your time in determining whether and how best to adapt to the change. First-mover advantages aren’t all backed by true competitive advantage, Martin says.

He writes: “Advantage is neither transitory nor immortal. Hence, strategy is not an either-or exercise about seeking flexibility OR sustainability. It is about both: seeking sustainable competitive advantage in a world full of far-reaching and tumultuous change.”

Read the full blog from Harvard Business Review here.

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