KAMPALA – “If you do not have competitive advantage, do not compete.” Jack Welch Competitive Advantages is anything that you have either as an individual or as an organization that keeps you ahead of competition. We are in a highly competitive world where different players engage different strategies to be able to keep ahead of others.
This is at company level where we see stiff competition and similarly, at individual level where you find different managers in the same industries trying to stay ahead of others.
Competition is very good for business because it enables organizations to be more efficient and focus on customer needs so that customers finally benefit from the manoeuvres that are made by the companies to stay ahead.
Competitive advantage can come from various sources; customer service, technology, equipment or facilities that are unique and of course the skillset
in an organization. These are things that would create competitive advantage to an organization. Individually, there is a lot to think about in terms of what can give you competitive advantage.
Looking at organizations again, you find in the leisure and hospitality industry say the hotel business, they do everything possible to offer wonderful customer service to enable them stay ahead. They also go ahead to provide other packages for instance airport pickup services, free laundry services, free high-speed internet to mention but a few. All these are things that give an organization competitive advantage over others. For most organizations, the source of competitive advantage especially sustainable competitive advantage is efficiency through technology.
For individuals who are in similar careers how does one gain competitive advantage over others? In most cases, once you get employed in an organization that values you, it endeavors
to maintain you to be as valuable as you came in.
Some organizations have now got the new strategy of new psychological contract where people come in for a limited amount of time and these people will take responsibility for skilling themselves. Otherwise, the traditional
organization has a plan where an individual who comes in the organization is trained over a period so that person continues to gain new skills depending on the changing environment.
As newer equipment comes on the market, organizations plan to get their employees trained on how to use them. This enables them to remain more competitive relative to others in other
However, the question is clear; what happens to you as an individual, how do you stay ahead of others. Every career has certain knowledge demands and skillset. In certain profession careers there is something called continuous improvement CPD(Continuous Profession Development) which requires peoples to attend certain seminars or conferences in which they learn something new and therefore keep ahead and continue to be relevant to the industry.
Take a case of accountants who qualified in the 1980s, the 1990s and the 2000s. At that time the usage of Information Technology was limited in nature. Today, how would such people be up to date.
Similarly, a case of engineers until recently engineering was about analogue technology today engineering is largely digital technology.
These engineers who studied then, must be able to update themselves to make themselves relevant How do you stay ahead of your competitors in the profession or any career? It is ensuring that you acquire the new knowledge and skills that are coming up on the market, for instance in the motor vehicle business today in motor vehicle garages there are computers that are used to detect what is the problem with the vehicle.
Some time back, garages were meant for people who were not educated or who had received a diploma from a vocational institution but now, that there is a computer that diagnoses the illness or the challenge; such people need to be able to use those computers to continue to be relevant.
There are numerous applications that are coming up in various areas of business. For an architect, there are applications that enable you do plans and all requirements with the house. Not many years back, somebody had to sit over night or several days in the night and be able to draw the plans using hands.
This has changed and to be able to understand the technologies that are ruling to enable you be in a position to adopt these technologies.
Besides that, they are certain complementary skills you should be able to continuously improve.
Social skills continue to be relevant at all times and these are also changing depending on the changing nature of the world. In leadership, in recent times; emotional intelligence is one skill that is being seen increasingly as very important for one’s relevance.
Similarly, adaptability and resilience skills. It is important to know what is happening, what is trending and get the necessary training so that you can acquire these skills and your able to use these skills in your daily life. There are a variety of other soft skills which continue to emerge that are critical.
However, these must be combined with modern technologies to be able to stay ahead of competition. “We call it value innovation because instead of focusing on beating the competition, you focus on making competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for buyers and your company, thereby opening up new and uncontested market space.” W. Chan Kim.
Author; Maureen Tweyongyere, Director, MUBS Career & Skills Development Centre and Member, National Task force on Labor Productivity