Kagan: Is your company a leader or follower?

| by Jeff KAGAN
Kagan: Is your company a leader or follower?


Let me ask you a question. Are you a leader or a follower? Is your company a leader or follower? Understanding where you and your company fits into the changing marketplace is key to success or failure. There are only three places. Either lead, follow or get out of the way. It's as simple as that. So, where do you stand?


Leaders take the arrows, but are responsible for transforming their industry and creating the new rules going forward. Think companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, AT&T, T-Mobile, Comcast and Samsung. They take risks and blaze new trails.


Followers don't take the arrows. They wait and see whether the change lasts. They evaluate what worked and what didn't, then they enter the new space. They don't create the rules for the new space, but they don't experience the push back either. Think companies like Microsoft, Verizon, Sprint and Charter Communications. They are less innovative and play it safe.


You would think every company would fall into one of these two categories, but that's not the case. Believe it or not there are many companies who want to take a hands-off approach. They like things the way they are.


They don't seem to understand the marketplace is changing and if they don't change along with it, they will eventually lose. Think companies like Motorola, Nokia, and Blackberry who all had their world ripped out from under them with the iPhone and Android smartphone revolution.


The growth wave: Cresting then falling

It's all about the growth wave. Companies are either on the growth side of the growth curve, or they have crested or they are on the falling side. Obviously, you want to be on the growth side of the growth wave. You want to be growing. However, we have seen so many companies simply miss this critical moment of transformation.


There are many companies who are not really participating in the transformation of the industry. They are not leading or following. They are companies which if they stay on this path will have trouble going forward. These companies should get out of the way.


There are so many companies who still must make the decision to join the growth wave or not. Companies like Frontier Communications, CenturyLink and so many others. They could be a rapidly growing competitor next year, if they make the right choice now.


So, one year from today will they be on the growth wave or will they still be stuck in the mud of a rapidly changing industry? It all depends on the choice they make today.


This is the choice every company faces. Every product, every company and every industry goes through a growth wave process. Think companies like IBM. You remember the Selectric typewriter from the 1980s? You remember the IBM ThinkPad laptop from the 1990s and 2000s? Now IBM is in the AI space with Watson and other technology. They reinvent themselves, time and time again. Unfortunately, every company doesn't take the same path.


Personal growth wave

The same thing applies to each person. Every person in their career is somewhere on the growth wave. They are either growing, have crested or are falling. This may have to do with the company they work for. Where it is on the growth wave. Or it may have to do with the gumption of the individual.


Some are go getters and always looking to stay on the growth wave. They move when their current job is not on the growth wave. Others are happy to keep their job even if they are not on the growth side of the wave. These people often see their opportunities shrinking going forward.


Companies on the growth side of the wave work for companies who are always hiring. Always looking for more talent to continue to grow. They are always expanding in their own sectors and moving into new sectors. Companies who have crested or are on the falling side of the growth wave often see fewer workers and less opportunities.


Take temperature of company by listening to the news

You can often tell the temperature of a company by listening to their corporate communications or reading the news. Are they rapidly seeking growth opportunities? Are they hiring new workers? Are they seizing new opportunities and always expanding and growing? Or are they happy where they are? These are important questions for every worker and every investor to ask.


The best advice is to stick with the growth curve. That can mean a new company with a transformative idea. That can also mean an existing company, which is expanding its product line to stay on top.


Take AT&T for example. Local phone lines were growing until roughly the year 2000. Then they started to decline. AT&T has moved into new areas for growth like wireless, pay TV, wireless TV, IoT, AI, connected car and more. This is the kind of path you want to be on. Unless you are at the end of your career, move away from companies who have crested or are already falling. There is much less opportunity at these companies.


So, are you a leader or a follower? What about your company? Understanding how to read the marketplace is crucial for you personally and in your career, and for the company you work with. Make sure you are always aware and alert for a changing dynamic, because everything is always changing year to year. Stay on the success growth track.

Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Service, Marketing, Omnichannel / Multichannel, Retail - General

Companies: IBM Corporation, AT&T

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 www

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