Some of the most popular global high-tech companies have their fingers in almost every conceivable pie today, and not only in their domestic markets but also internationally. It’s also hard to exclude any vertical from their future interest — as digital technologies become the game-changer in just about any industry, from retail, fashion, travel, and hospitality to pharmaceuticals and medical devices. So, what is it they do right and what can you learn from high-tech companies to not only survive but also thrive?
1. Technology permeates everything
Technology is of course the reason for their existence; no surprise then that tech permeates everything they do, including marketing, sales, and customer support. Hence, “traditional” businesses are left with no choice other than to go high-tech themselves, too.
For instance, many retail companies, like Uniqlo, are serious about using technology to delight their customers. In fact, Uniqlo’s CEO even refers to his company as a technology company, rather than one that sells apparel — which, at the end of the day, is what it does. Recently, it introduced a technique to use shoppers’ brain waves to match their moods with clothes. It also provided their store staff with smartphone-like devices that let them check stock, update data, and facilitate faster checkouts.
2. Focus on what you do best…
…and partner with high-tech companies to complement your true strengths. You know your consumers best, and you also have considerable acumen in your line of business. But you may be lacking the tools with which you can leverage these assets. Online and offline businesses are coming together to explore how they may best feed off each other’s strengths while working to mutual advantage. Some good examples are the way Amazon has been building partnerships with offline businesses.
You can also use your intimate knowledge of the market to your advantage, provided you continue to innovate and tech continues to be a part of your arsenal. Take, for instance, how the traditional auto industry from Detroit has borrowed the driverless car idea from Google, but approached this incrementally. GM’s semi-autonomous cars still come with the steering wheel, brakes, and gears that we’re used to. So, chances are, this may lead to an easier adoption compared with more radical and disruptive designs.
3. Localize, localize, localize
If you’re selling globally or even selling to multicultural audiences domestically, take this all-important localization lesson from these high-tech companies. Inarguably, there’s hardly any sector that understands the importance of and leverages languages as much as this sector. High-tech companies are some of the heaviest investors in localization, even when there’s no regulation that forces them to localize, and there are some good reasons for that.
4. Appreciate what tech companies might do for your industry
The strides that tech companies are making in your sector may actually help you persuade your C-suite to invest in technology. Some industries might get more visibility when tech giants take an interest in them. Take for instance, translation. Google Translate brings into focus a critical service that has normally been behind the scenes. Similarly, if your sector is the newfound love of tech companies, figure out how you can possibly shine some light on your own company and showcase its advantages.
5. Remember, no one is invincible
Learn to do a spin on what the tech companies are doing. Remember that they grew to where they are today by using technology to question the status quo. You can do so, too. In fact, the startup community is all about finding a niche and growing quickly to dominate it. WunWun, a startup with a cult-like following in New York City, is trying to turn the eCommerce business model on its head by helping local stores deliver faster than online retailers might do — that is, within an hour.
Today’s business world is not just about clichéd competition anymore. It’s increasingly coming to be about collaboration and co-existence. Stay calm and find your niche and focus, and then innovate. The sky is wide enough.