What truly differentiates any company? Well, lots of things. Products, of course, are right up at the top. Great products help create and sustain great brands. But is that enough?
Tesla, the pioneer of mainstream electric vehicle technologies and scrappy challenger to the mainstream status quo, no longer has quite the product advantage it had just 12 months ago. Notwithstanding the Twitter-sphere shenanigans surrounding CEO Elon Musk and the company’s recognition that mass producing vehicles isn’t quite as straightforward (or as profitable) as anticipated, a recent Consumer Reports survey reveals that the company also no longer represents the “gold standard” in vehicle automation systems. Add to this the 100 or so electric and advanced hybrid vehicles that consumers will be able to choose from by 2025 and the facts become very clear: rapid technology advancements in every industry are resulting in increased homogeneity of product which, in turn, has eroded product-based “competitive advantages.”
With ever more expectant and less tolerant customers, a subscriber mindset, and a plethora of choices in almost every product category, companies need—now more than ever before—more than just cool new technologies and features to sustain and differentiate themselves. The one thing that any business can control and enhance on a daily basis is the experience that it provides to its employees and its customers. This is what provides every successful company with an “edge”—these are the bedrock of sustained competitive advantage. And yet, looking at the investments companies in every industry make in the name of growth, the “people” part of their equation is often the lowest priority on the totem pole when it comes to time and dollars invested. Why is this?