Harvard: Pioneering first movers hold huge revenue advantage over slow competitors

Companies willing to try out new technologies first are seeing a huge advantage in revenue growth and market position across all markets according to a new study released by Harvard Business Review supported by Verizon.

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The report, entitled “The Digital Dividend – First Mover Advantage” found that 20 per cent of the group of first movers identified as “Pioneers” saw revenue growth top 30 per cent.

This number is twice as much growth as in firms identified as “Followers” [those that watch and invest when benefits are proven] and three times that of firms identified as “Cautious” that wait until a technology is well established.

“Organizations need to be constantly innovating in order to stay ahead of the curve, and this study shows that technology is a key enabler of business growth,” said Tony Recine, chief marketing officer of Verizon Enterprise Solutions.

Of those Pioneers, 54 per cent stated that technology has led to a significant change to business models in the past and 52 per cent pointed to a disruptive change to the products and services sold. As a contrast just 29 per cent of Followers and 10 per cent of Cautious companies saw technology lead to a change in business models.

Change is being driven by customer behaviour and expectations within organisations with 65 per cent citing this and 45 per cent mentioning cost reduction.

“New technologies can provide a genuine competitive edge, but the organization has to make the commitment to use technology to build new processes and business models,” commented Angelia Herrin, research and special projects editor of Harvard Business Review. “Companies need to become more flexible in terms of technology implementation and make innovation part of their culture in order to realize the real business value.”

Manufacturing companies are among the most cautious when it comes to new technologies with just 26 per cent identified as first movers as opposed to 39 per cent that call themselves cautious and just 18 per cent of public sector organisations aim to get a first mover advantage.

In comparison, 62 per cent of technology companies want to gain a first mover advantage as well as 45 per cent of business services/consultancies and 43 per cent of energy and utilities firms.

Latin America, the Middle East and Africa are largely made up of Pioneers and establishment markets like Asia, Europe and North America are likely to have to overcome the challenges of legacy technology.

The survey put questions to 672 business and technology leaders across the globe and there was an even spread across Pioneers [34 per cent], Followers [35 per cent], and Cautious companies [30 per cent].Porthole Ad