All industries are subject to external trends that affect their businesses over time. Think of the rapid rise of the Internet or the global movement toward protecting the environment. Looking at these trends with the right perspective can show you how to create blue ocean opportunities.
Most companies adapt incrementally and somewhat passively as events unfold. Whether it’s the emergence of new technologies or major regulatory changes, managers tend to focus on projecting the trend itself. That is, they ask in which direction a technology will evolve, how it will be adopted, whether it will become scalable. They pace their own actions to keep up with the development of the trends they’re tracking.
But key insights into blue ocean strategy rarely come from projecting the trend itself. Instead they arise from business insights into how the trend will change value to customers and impact the company’s business model. By looking across time — from the value a market delivers today to the value it might deliver tomorrow — managers can actively shape their future and lay claim to a new blue ocean. Looking across time is perhaps more difficult than the previous approaches we’ve discussed, but it can be made subject to the same disciplined approach. We’re not talking about predicting the future, something that is inherently impossible. Rather, we’re talking about finding insight in trends that are observable today.
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