Thursday, June 29, 2006

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Play Your Home Field Advantage

… the competitive location of premium production is different from commodity production.
--Ken Jarboe, Athena Alliance, The Intangible Economy

Blog alert: if you want to be a player in the I-cubed (Information, Innovation, Intangible) economy, you should read the Athena Alliance blog. It is a clearinghouse of expert opinions on how to create competitive differentiation in an increasingly flat (i.e., commoditized) world.

Take the June 27th post about a Business Week article on why some entrepreneurs choose not to offshore even though competitors do. Key reasons for sourcing at home:
  • High end customization.
  • Design and quality.
  • Close link between office, production and customer
The business examples cited happen to be makers of tangible products -- knitwear, birdcages, and board games. But what about makers of intangibles like professional services? Do these three attributes also create compelling differentiation for local suppliers of "products" that clients can receive over a wire from anywhere?

My view is that they can. In fact, a close connection to your home market can itself be a strength, especially in combination with the other attributes cited. However, a lot depends on where "home" is -- for both buyer and seller.

One thing that's interesting about my clients is that many of them are non-native speakers of American English. This started back to the mid-90s when I was writing the résumés of SAP third-party integrators from Eastern Europe. Today, I count among my "non-native" clients both offshore companies and senior marketing executives of U.S. companies who happen to be foreign nationals.

Yes, we live in a flat world. But the American idiom still dominates high tech marketing (even when translated). That means that professional communicators who know that idiom well, and also know how to make non-native speakers feel at home in it, have an edge.


At 9:06 PM, Blogger Ken Jarboe said...

You are right on with your comment that producers of intangibles need to play to their home advantages. Knowledge of the local market is a key competitive advantage - and one that intangible producers can exploit to their benefit. Your example of knowing the American idiom is a case in point!


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