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Strategic Adaptability: The Key to Developing a Competitive Advantage

Kevin Cain
May 11, 2017
They say that the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes. Yet when it comes to the business world, there’s one other certainty that we can add to the mix: Things are constantly changing. That’s important because if you want to survive it means that you always need to be ready to adapt. Over the past decade, for example, an array of disruptive new technologies have arrived on the scene that have totally changed the way that we do business. Initially, these included things like mobile, cloud and big data. More recently it’s been the rise of the Internet of Things, advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and even augmented reality. And while digital transformation may be one of the biggest challenges facing companies today, technology isn’t the only thing driving that change. There are countless other factors at work too. Take demographics as an example. As more and more baby boomers leave the workforce, they are being replaced by millennials who have completely different expectations that their employers need to adapt to. There are also changes as a result of the rise of the gig economy, which has made it possible for workers from all generations to break out on their own. And let’s not forget about the never-ending uncertainty that comes with an evolving regulatory environment. There’s also the growing emphasis on hyper-personalization and putting customers first, not to mention the steady arrival of new innovative businesses. What these and other examples of change all point to is this: In order for your business to not only survive but also thrive, you’ve got to be adaptable. In fact, strategic adaptability needs to be one of your top priorities if you want to maintain a competitive advantage in today’s constantly evolving world.

Breaking Strategic Adaptability Down

What exactly does strategic adaptability mean and, more importantly, how can you go about it? Fundamentally, it’s about being in tune with the kinds of changes that are going on in your business, in your industry and in the world, and making improvements to best position your company to take advantage of those changes. A big piece of the puzzle, however, is truly understanding which changes are most vital to your business. Most companies don’t have unlimited resources, so you need to focus on adapting to the areas that will yield the greatest return on investment for your particular business model. While being more adaptable starts with asking different questions, accepting different points of view and experimenting and learning, there are also some concrete tactics that you can use to help make your business more adaptable.  These include:

1. Understand What Your Competitors Are Doing

One of the best ways to prepare your organization for change is to study your competitors to see how they’re dealing with it. Are they hiring different types of employees than you are? Are they rolling out new products or services or even just talking to the market about topics that aren’t on your radar? Can you get a sense of what new technologies they are embracing or who they are partnering with? The more that you know about what your competitors are up to, the better placed you’ll be to not only embrace change, but also adapt to it faster and with fewer hiccups along the way.

2. Develop Partnerships

Sometimes it's better not to completely change your business, but rather to partner with another organization that complements your own and gives you the new capability, technology or reach that you might need. To find the right partners, explore your options and take great care to vet them thoroughly. In the process, look for partners that you can work with to form a symbiotic relationship that benefits you both and ultimately leads to better outcomes for your customers.

3. Tap Into External Talent

Today’s workforce is more agile than ever before. Thanks to the gig economy, approximately one-third of the U.S. workforce (some 54 million Americans) participates in independent work. What this means is that as a business you’ve got options. You can tap into the different skill sets that you need to support new initiatives without necessarily having to hire a new raft of full-time employees. Doing so can give you the freedom and flexibility to experiment with new approaches and adapt in real-time without the financial burdens associated with adding additional headcount to your bottom line. Change is a constant. In a world where everything is always evolving, you’ve got to work really hard to stay ahead of the game. What will you do to adapt? At Catalant, we have teams of experts that help businesses pivot, adapt strategically and deliver on business needs. To learn more about how your team can capitalize check out our whitepaper below. Whitepaper graphic

About the Author

Kevin Cain

Kevin Cain is a freelance writer and content marketer. He works closely with companies from around the world, helping them to develop their content strategies and create award-winning content that gets results. An expert in B2B marketing, Kevin has deep knowledge of the software, financial services, and professional services industries.

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