Differentiation, disruption and data
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Differentiation, disruption and data

Differentiation, disruption and data

By 2025, $100bn per year will be spent on ecommerce in the Gulf, what will your company do to get a piece?

Gulf Business

Over the next 10 years ecommerce spend will grow tenfold from 2014’s $10bn, according to a Dubai-based venture capitalists, BECO. To win some of that $100bn, ecommerce players will have to be ‘better than average’.

49 per cent of businesses are below average

Clearly, not everyone can be ‘above average’ and few CEOs want to run an ‘average’ – or below average – company. Over the years plenty of people have written books detailing how to avoid being average, how to stand out, how to be successful. Some of these titles talk of differentiation and disruption.

The oft-quoted business mantra was Differentiate or Die, Jack Trout’s book 2001 book title. To differentiate themselves from their increasingly crowded marketplaces, businesses started to define the category their business was in. They wanted to reposition all the competition into either the top left or the bottom right quadrant of ‘the new matrix’. They would now occupy the all-new top right quadrant and that would be the company’s vision sorted, differentiated.

Then came disruption. One ad agency quickly claimed ownership of this term after its then CEO, Jean-Marie Dru, wrote a book of the same title in 2008. In turn, businesses and brands looked to reinterpret the playing field, to change the rules. At the same time the internet was just getting social. It was no longer about repositioning the competition, but reframing the whole category that the business was in. Suddenly businesses became market leaders of wholly new playing fields. Hence the old world was suddenly disrupted by the presence of many all-new categories.

Of course, we’re over-simplifying some fabulous and historically important business books.

Nowadays? Well, differentiation and disruption are omnipresent, sitting alongside many new buzzwords, of course. ‘Multichannel’ has become ‘omnichannel’. ‘Digital’ has become ‘SoLoMo’ (SocialLocalMobile) and the Internet of Things will make us look stupid if we can’t talk about uber-connectivity in our smart city.

But the very smart are talking about – and demonstrating – the monetisation of their own online data. It is vital for ecommerce players across this region over the next decade to harness the forecasted growth to $100bn. So how does a company start to monetise its online data?

Company-wide commitment

Gartner, the tech research resource, has been publishing its Hype Cycle since 1995, looking at technology and what is hot, hype and successful. It is a fascinating review each year, looking at what is at the peak of inflated expectations. Guess what? Big data is still there. Big data is the elephant in the room and, so I have heard, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. It is not necessarily best to start with existing data. Sometimes it is best to start to collect new data. So long as there is a company wide commitment to use data.

Make it easy

Let us work out what data we should have access to – including the obvious. I am not asking anyone to employ the econometricians for their modeling programmes – but if you do, that is very exciting too and a whole new subject. Whoever is collecting this data must make it easy to understand. Good data tells a story.

Use this data to measure success

Quick wins will show the CFO why investment in data is valuable. For example, creating unique, engaging stories for a range of audience segments, perhaps by encouraging them to do something. Differentiation and disruption will be boosted by the data that can show the whole business what is working and what is not working, in real time.

All of a sudden this process internally gets called ‘data management’ and this will be the quickest route to differentiate, disrupt and become above average.

James Welch is managing director of BLUE LOGIC, a Dubai-based digital & data advisory services company.


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