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How Complex Matrices, Spotting Technology Trends and Market Forecasts Direct Businesses to Success Businesses need to engage with the changing landscape of the industry they operate in, especially with respect to dealing with disruptive technologies

By Faisal Ahmad

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Companies and their management today face a different set of challenges in comparison to two decades ago. At that time, the challenge was gathering information to help make strategic decisions for greater market success, as information was stored in different silos and was extremely inaccessible. The advent of the internet has removed the pre-existing information asymmetry. More information is now available than ever before. However, the sheer volume of available information, distributed as it is across digital platforms and resources, makes it hard for companies to find the information they need to drive their strategic decisions. Nascent technologies and their disruptive market impact also drive major changes in customer preferences, leading to a more dynamic business landscape in which competitiveness becomes hard to maintain for poorly informed and, consequently, poorly prepared businesses.

Corporate and management leaders need to identify new opportunities, avoid potential pitfalls, and remain constantly innovative, and for them to do this requires a new kind of market intelligence. For success in this increasingly technology-driven market landscape, these companies require market intelligence that reviews and researches all the available information, tracks the evolving technology landscape, and provides actionable insights and trends. Companies armed with such information can use their greater understanding of business ideas and technologies to maintain their competitive edge and identify the right approach to customer segments, without which they are likely to fail.

A Cautionary Tale and a potential sequel – The Story of Xerox and PARC

In 1959, Xerox released the Xerox 914, the first plain paper photocopier – a product referred to by Fortune Magazine as "the most successful single product of all time' for many years to come. Driven by its initial success, Xerox was at the forefront of the digital revolution and opened the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) to develop new technologies. The facility is an important part of computing history, being the location for the development of the graphical user interface, laser printing, WYSIWYG text editors, and ethernet. Based on these inventions, PARC developed the Xerox Alto in 1973 – considered as the first true personal computer with a monitor, mouse-type pointing device, networking capabilities, and a QWERTY alphanumeric keyboard. The company didn't see any major potential in this new product, using it only internally. Only eleven years later, in 1984, Steve Jobs released the Apple Macintosh – the first personal computer with a GUI and a mouse commercially available to the public, with many features that relied on concepts and ideas initially developed at PARC. The 1984 Macintosh became the product that launched Apple as a company, and set it on course to become one of the most valued brands in the world. Xerox, on the other hand, has largely been relegated into becoming just another player in the printing and photocopying industry.

The Sequel? HP's Foray into 3D printing

Had Xerox understood the potential of the personal computer as a device back in the mid and late 1970s, it might have earned the billions that Apple, Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard made by "borrowing' Xerox's technology. However, in spite of becoming one of the world's most prominent PC makers, HP in 2014 had suffered an abysmal few years, attributable to the global economy, dismal market conditions, and confusing management moves. Like Xerox, it had become dominant in a field, becoming one of the biggest suppliers of printers and printing technologies. However, its sales had been plummeting significantly in printing, as well as in enterprise computing. Faced with this scenario, the company had two options – adapt, or slowly decline into irrelevance. Recognizing the potential and with an eye on the impressive projections for growth in the market from leading technology-focused market intelligence providers such as BIS Research, HP bet big on 3D printing. In 2017, with its Multi Jet Fusion printers creating a substantial splash, HP looks to return to winning ways by leveraging on this emerging technology. With the global 3D printing market expected to reach USD 20.97 billion by 2021, growing at a CAGR of 24.9% between 2017 and 2021, HP is poised to tap into this lucrative new market.

With the global 3D printing software and services market expected to reach USD 4.52 billion by 2021, growing at a CAGR of 25.2% between 2017 and 2021, HP is poised to tap into this lucrative new market.

What Really Matters Today – Technology Tracking and Market Potential

The margins of error in today's dynamic business landscape have reduced even further than in the 1970s and 80s; there will not be another 11-year gap before a high-potential technology overlooked by one company gets released by a competitor, as with Alto and the Macintosh. Having a first-mover advantage with innovation is key to continued success and growth in the hypercompetitive world we inhabit today, and, for that, the ability to track lab-to-market technologies and understand their market potential is what really matters.

While identifying new technologies poised for market entry is important to prepare companies, understanding their market potential in a usable fashion is critical for corporates and senior management. This has become the only definitive way to identify new growth opportunities and revenue pockets, as well as to devise appropriate go-to-market strategies. Technology-focused market intelligence players can help businesses understand the impact that emergent technologies will have. Through accurate timelines, market intelligence companies can help today's businesses be prepared for the shifting landscapes of the market of tomorrow.

Being Prepared For the Market of Tomorrow

Businesses looking to grow need not just predict what the market will look like in the future. They also need to know how to engage with the changing landscape of the industry they operate in, especially with respect to dealing with disruptive technologies and their entry into the market. Technology-focused marketing intelligence firms use detailed analysis, market sizing, quantification, and forecasting, and market drivers and restraints to identify the opportunities, threats, and current or emerging trends around emergent technologies. Armed with this level of actionable market intelligence, businesses are enabled to develop patterns, proxies, and scientific methodologies for engaging with nascent technologies and emerge as successes.

The growing adoption of data analytics by global organisations is a telling indicator of how important information is to the success of business in the future. Technology-focused market intelligence is key for businesses to identify the data and trends relevant to them. Not only will it help them develop indicator patterns to optimize business decisions by identifying potential opportunities, but will also enable them to discover significant weak signals and threats for their businesses.

Faisal Ahmad

Founder and CEO, BIS Research

Mohammad Faisal Ahmad is the Founder and CEO of BIS Research, a global market intelligence, research, and advisory company that helps businesses navigate through technological disruption. Faisal is responsible for the company’s overall cost and profit centres, developing its value propositions, and its strategic growth and partnerships. Faisal has been instrumental in creating a culture of ownership at every level of the organization, establishing high performance expectations throughout the team.


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