I've been thinking about first mover advantage a lot lately.... and today it sort of solidified in my mind as I drove my son to camp located in an area of Austin that when I was his age, neither of us would have been caught dead in. So I want to share that thinking with you -- unformed as it may be -- and get your two cents.
Gentrification is one of those polarizing ideas. Traditionally associated with the change in urban landscapes where those with money begin to build and live in areas traditionally inhabited by those without money.
The result -- if the early adopters guess right, their late adopter friends follow and gentrification begins. Within a few years a low rent district becomes the new hotspot.
But that's not the point of this post. Whether you think gentrification is good or bad for a neighborhood is certainly up for debate...what isn't up for debate though is the value of gentrification to those early adopters.
The Value of Early Adoption of Technology
For those lucky early adopters, the resulting gentrification (or adoption to make the point clearer) of the neighboorhood results in increased property values and thus creates opportunities to grow wealth through rise in value of owned assets or through cash by selling those owned assets at the new, higher gentrified price.
I think the same approach holds true in technology. Take QR Codes for instance. At Blog World last week we talked about the value of a technology used by so few. Why should marketers invest time and effort into QR if it was still a non-gentrified technology?
The answer is simple -- it doesn't cost much and IF the technology becomes hot, you the brand or company that tested and learned early will be better positioned to exploit the gentrified technology.
The Value of Technology Speculation
Look in almost any big dollar industry -- real estate, money, oil, etc., and you'll see those with the biggest bank accounts are most often those that speculate the most. They make lots of bets, some of which pay out and others of which don't.
As Julia Fitzgerald, Chief Digital Engagement Officer at Sears Holdings Corporation, pointed out when I interviewed her about Sears' recent QR experiment, "You have to be putting a lot of chips out there to see which ones cash in..."
The digital space -- mobile, social, content marketing -- is still so new and evolving so fast that if you're waiting for others to show you the way (which most companies are), you're going to finish dead last. Instead, to quote Marcus Sheridan during a Blog World interview, "You gotta keep the pedal down and keep on pushing if you want to win today."
I think Digital R&D is going to be the key to success over the next 5-10 years. Digital technology continues to be a disruptive force in every industry it touches. You're going to need to stay ahead of that curve or find a Digital Consigliere that can keep you ahead if you don't want to get left behind.
The value of being ready, of being the company that tested and learned early will be that you'll be better positioned to exploit the gentrified technology when the time is right.
The Value of First Mover Knowledge
Last week at Blog World I saw that one of the session speakers was sharing data on the life of a tweet. This is nothing new, the first major report of that nature I recall seeing was Hubspot's Shelf Life of Social Media Links back in September of 2011.
The funny thing is -- I and my clients had that knowledge in February of 2009! Almost two full years ahead of the Hubspot report. Why? Because we invested in Digital R&D. As part of my Mardi Gras Twitter Experiment, we tracked the lifespan of our tweets. And that wasn't the only knowledge we had... the resulting data set was full of highly valuable insights -- some of which we shared, many of which we didn't.
So ask yourself -- what's a two year knowledge advantage worth in your industry?
And in my mind, that's the value of Digital R&D... that's why you have to take a long-term vs short-term look at the ROI of your digital investments. This space is new and moving fast... and if you want to succeed in it, if you want to leverage it for maximum value to your company -- you need to be learning on the job vs just reading what others choose to share with you from their learnings.
I started this post by saying I wanted to hear your thoughts... so let me know what you think... am I off my rocker or is this something that we all should be focusing on a tad bit more?
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