Timing your entry into new areas of retail payment technology is key. Early adopters get a competitive advantage. They also take the arrows. Then over time, as wave after wave of competitors jump in and do the same thing, the competitive advantage gives way and becomes simply a cost of doing business.
At that point, if you are not a player, you will lose market share.
It's brutal, but that's the reality. Choosing the right time to enter this space for you, is key.
Early entry will let you pave the way. Let you chart the new direction. However, early adopters also take the arrows when the new industry direction is taking shape. They are on a bumpy, unpaved road often filled with confusing media stories and regulator push back.
Followers wait and see whether this space is stable and worth entering. They watch the leaders closely. If a successful area, they will eventually enter this new space and start to compete. They don't pave the road or make the rules, but they compete and can win as well.
There are plenty of leaders. There are also plenty of followers. All can be winners.
The only question is will they help create the new rules or just play by the rules set up by others.
AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, Comcast, Charter are all different
AT&T is a forward-thinking leader. Verizon is a follower. But they are both successful companies.
AT&T paves the way into new industry segments like iPhones from a decade ago to acquiring DirecTV, which let them create DirecTV Now and wireless TV or mobile TV. Verizon, CenturyLink, Comcast, Charter and other competitors are followers.
They are looking for a way to follow AT&T into this new space.
So, there are three categories of companies. Which do you fit into?
Early adopters lead the charge. Followers, follow the early adopters. And the rest, well they often get into trouble and cannot continue to successfully compete. This third category can't get out of their own way. Even if they were number one at one point, they can quickly fall. Remember Motorola, Nokia and Blackberry! It happens more frequently than you imagine.
/ Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, speaker, author and consultant. Over 30 years he has followed the Customer Experience through technology like wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, AI, Mobile Pay, FinTech and more. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com.