- Senior operating executive and global marketing leader for 30 years at companies in transition, including Kodak, Compaq, Siebel Systems, others in the U.S., Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
- Consultant for past 3+ years working with Geoffrey Moore, leading tech market strategy theorist ("Crossing the Chasm"), with clients at emerging, fast-growth, and large tech-based enterprises including LinkedIn, Kofax and others.
- Has specialized in growth strategies and plans for technology-based companies, including P&G, Kodak, Masterfoods, Compaq, Siebel, IRI, Saba, and now Chasm Group.
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Driving Transitional Growth for Tech-Based Businesses
Success in technology-based companies requires a market- and customer-driven approach that answers four core questions:
- Is there a pressing need that someone recognizes as a pain to solve for?
- Are they willing to spend money to solve for that pain?
- Would they buy the solution from you?
- Can you build it?
That’s your starting point.
From there, achieving transitional growth demands a sound market development planning framework rooted in three strategic vectors and six operational vectors. Your strategy demands an in-depth understanding of your target market, its compelling reason to buy, and a whole product solution that fulfills that compelling need. Your operational plan must account for pricing, sales approach, the need for partners and allies, competitive differentiation (including vs. the status quo), sound positioning, and a logical expansion strategy.
The initial buyer differs from the mainstream buyer who will fuel transitional growth and a profitable business of material size. Early buyers are visionaries and early adopters who are willing to assume risks for unproven ideas in order to secure early competitive advantage. These are the people who bought electric cars like the Tesla before a battery charging network was in place. Mainstream buyers are pragmatists who avoid risks, seek proven solutions, and expect a support network to be in place. Making the mistake of trying to sell to a mainstream buyer before ironing out the product, service, support, and infrastructure is a fool’s errand. That’s not how they think, or buy.
Lest you think that transitional or transformation growth is the exclusive province of startups, companies of all sizes can achieve next stage growth using the right strategic frameworks and operating models.
- A startup company may be seeking to achieve optimal product-market fit and establish an early leadership position in a specific market niche.
- A more established company may be experiencing flattening growth and be seeking a compelling Act Two or Act Three to drive new revenue streams or new rounds of investment.
- An established large enterprise may be seeking its next wave of growth as markets evolve and may recognize the need to reinvent itself, defend its turf, or generate new revenue streams that will become material to the business (that is, 10 percent or more of total revenues) before somebody else disrupts the category or erodes its core revenue base
Regardless of the path chosen, taking an "outside-in," market-driven approach will always improve the chances for success.
More often than not, transitional growth starts with a visionary or change agent. Big ideas can be scary and high risk as they seek to disrupt the status quo. Great visionaries of our time, like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, were able to re-invent the automotive industry and the personal computing and communications field not only through breakthrough ideas, but also through a recognition of the need for the supporting infrastructure to ensure market adoption. The best disruptive innovations often come from people who are trying to solve a problem they are personally experiencing, and can see that it's a problem for many other people as well.
While transitional growth depends on generating big ideas, those big ideas must also be well executed. Execution requires aligned teams who collaborate, communicate, and share accountability. The divine is always in the details. When it comes to creating outcome-driven results, getting the team on the same page is essential. Make sure every contributor understands how and why they are important to the success of the overall enterprise, and how and why the others are as well.