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Digital Legacies: Non-linear Competition

Julius Wiedemann decodes the success matrix of digital companies, the business of competition and the importance of pleasure and purpose in the online space.

by Julius WiedemannPublished on : Mar 09, 2021

Time is possibly the most valuable asset that we have today. Competition between companies is at the forefront of every strategy. When we talk about experience as a business, we are aiming to optimise time and pleasure. In the digital world, this is almost like the first condition to create something new. In essence, it will be about creating something different, where time flies by, and it’s not perceived as a similar product. The wisest way to compete is more often than not to create something that is so different that we don’t perceive it as a competitor. The perceived time you take to have a pleasurable experience is frequently different than the time you are going to spend dedicating to something else, which might be as good, but completely different. An example is a birthday gift. An art book, an online course, a bottle of wine, a box of chocolate, or a bouquet of flowers, can all have the same price. Having said that, the price has become completely irrelevant. What you are offering is just completely different experiences and possibilities of memory. None of these products see the others as competitors. They probably ignored them in their market strategy, only because they are thinking about categories.

  • Design of a human-centered experience | Digital Legacies: Non-linear Competition | Julius Wiedemann | STIRworld
    Design of a human-centred experience Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann
  • All companies are competing for talent, regardless of where they come from and what they do | Digital Legacies: Non-linear Competition | Julius Wiedemann | STIRworld
    All companies are competing for talent, regardless of where they come from and what they do Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

Talent is the other important thing everyone is disputing. When someone is leaving college, fresh and open to ideas, all you want is this person to get into your industry and collaborate with them to thrive in the future. The effort that this person will put on your side of business would be the same for the other, with the difference that if they come to you first, they will have learned something that will be hard to leave behind in the next years. All companies are competing for talent, regardless of where they come from and what they do. Given the opportunities of new markets and a new company, and given a certain number of skills that most of us need to accomplish most tasks, there wouldn’t be a problem for a good professional to accomplish results either at Coca-Cola or the Citibank.

There are followers and there are thinkers. Most people are followers. They will enter probably one industry and will stay in there forever, and therefore it is fundamental for those industries to find these talents from early on. Followers here are not meant to describe a professional who is less capable or who thinks less. They are simply great professionals who are focused on understanding specific areas and in accomplishing a career path that is more linear. And even there, their skills will serve more and more different industries in this day and age. The building blocks of the digital company are now completely different than what they used to be some 30 years ago. Companies are not building departments from scratch or designing tools for productivity or for production themselves. They are buying those off the shelf and integrating them to create new frameworks to respond to a vision.

Online Consulting | Digital Legacies: Non-linear Competition | Julius Wiedemann | STIRworld
Online Consulting Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

Team, scope, and time. These are classically the three points we have to observe to be able to plan the completion of a task. On top of this, there are quality parameters. First is a good idea, something innovative; secondly there is execution, and thirdly there is longevity. Within that, almost everything should be possible with the adequate investment. These two concepts, however simple, can orient us about the start of a planning, as well as guide us through the process of creating a final new outcome. As soon as an IP is generated, the next step is always about who is going to take care of it, and when can we see the proof of concept, or the minimum viable product. Thinkers will think more in terms of frameworks, and less in terms of the tasks to be executed. And frameworks are always the ones to be expanded, tweaked, redesigned, so that they can generate more unpredictable outcomes where ideas for further developments can be based on innovation.

Human-centered design lies at the intersection of empathy, creativity, and business needs | Digital Legacies: Non-linear Competition | Julius Wiedemann | STIRworld
Human-centered design lies at the intersection of empathy, creativity, and business needs Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

I am an enthusiast of non-linear competition, for the reason that our time is short and that what we are trying to innovate on is useful and meaningful time for everyone around us. If we don’t succeed, people will leave the room very quickly, metaphorically, and will find new experiences where they will accomplish pleasure and purpose somewhere else. New ideas hardly mature these days before another one occupies that space. When Snapchat created a new form of sharing images, Instagram quickly proposed an alternative. It also started to offer video conferencing calls. Most companies now have access to the same resources. The question is how you wrap them. And what is the purpose of them. What pent-up demand are you tapping into?

Our daily effort at Domestika, for instance, is to create better courses attending to new audiences, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated online. It is something that I do not take for granted. It requires the effort of hundreds of people now, as we try to understand how a combination of writing, filming, editing, creating a community, and communicating can generate an experience that is compared to a film, or to reading a book, or to going for a walk in the park. We are waking up every day thinking about the next surprise to seduce our audience with. We are aware of our competitors, but we are looking beyond, and trying to fit into a new form of living in the 21st century.

Read more from the series Digital Legacies where our columnist Julius Wiedemann investigates the many aspects of digital life.

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