Matthew Barksdale, President, Engage Mobile Solutions
One of the keys in business is to create a sustainable competitive advantage - one that cannot be easily copied and can be built upon over time. Nowhere is this more true than in the competitive animal health market. While this is the goal, most companies in any industry tend to gravitate toward the mean - implement similar technologies, follow similar processes, benchmark against one another to the point where consumers are indifferent because the products and experiences are the same.
The business landscape of the United States (and world) is littered with once-dominant companies that missed opportunities - and as a result failed in the marketplace. Mighty companies and brands can become obsolete unless they adapt their business models and processes to maintain a competitive advantage. Kodak was destroyed by digital photography. Blockbuster was destroyed by video-on-demand. Borders was destroyed by online retailers, etc. As the pace of technology change increases, the risk of established companies being disrupted by new technologies increases. On the flip side, technology innovation provides an opportunity to change how data is collected, how products are delivered and how companies interact with their clients - providing an opportunity for smaller companies to compete and even dominate larger companies.
As we look across the technology landscape, there are three technologies that have matured to the point that they, when used in conjunction with each other, can help create a true sustainable advantage. Those three technologies are Cloud, Mobile and Custom Mobile Software.
“Mobile will affect more than just your digital operations — it will transform your entire business.” - Forrester research
Mobile - Smartphones and mobile devices are the fastest-adopted technology in history. Last year there were officially more mobile devices than people in the world, and the average person in the US is never more than 3 feet away from their phone. The fact that employees, business partners and customers have a mobile Internet-connected device with them at nearly all times provides incredible business opportunities to change the way companies interact with their stakeholders.
“Cloud is about how you do computing, not where you do computing” - Paul Maritz
The Cloud - Cloud computing (using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer) is more flexible, more secure and requires a lower investment than traditional IT infrastructure. Most importantly, cloud computing allows data to be more easily shared across the organization and enables IT departments to be more nimble and flexible in terms of supporting business objectives.
“Companies recognize the value of mobile apps for their business, but very few are well prepared to successfully deploy and maintain those apps." - Accenture
Custom Software/Mobile Apps - While cloud computing and mobile are trends that every company can leverage, it is the intersection of those two technologies with custom software and mobile apps where a sustainable competitive advantage can be created. Effective mobile software can revolutionize field data collection and more effectively transmit information to the field in order to make better and more timely decisions. Software can streamline inefficient paper processes. Software can even change the user experience so the product is less about what consumers are physically buying and more about the experience enabled by the software.
The intersection of these three technologies - Mobile, the Cloud and Custom Software/Mobile apps - provides the opportunity for companies to develop new competitive advantages around communication with stakeholders and the real-time collection, distribution and analysis of data. Companies that fail to adapt these technologies into their business may see their existing business model and competitive advantage lose steam. Animal health companies that look for and find ways to leverage the convergence of these three technologies will open up new avenues to create competitive advantages that can be built upon for the next decade and beyond. About Engage Mobile Solutions
Matthew Barksdale is the president of Engage Mobile Solutions. Engage Mobile, helps health-focused organizations solve unique and challenging business problems by building custom software and leveraging mobile and cloud technologies. Engage Mobile’s deep experience and focus on health gives them a unique perspective to help clients achieve their goals. Matthew holds degrees from Rockhurst University and The Wharton School of Business and lives with his wife, two children and two dogs in Liberty, Mo. Learn more at http://www.engagemobile.com/.