The Essential Pillars Of Cutting-Edge Commercial Competence

What does it mean to run a business “on the cutting edge” of its sector? Depending on who you ask, you may gain a great number of different answers. To our thinking, cutting-edge innovation is …


What does it mean to run a business “on the cutting edge” of its sector? Depending on who you ask, you may gain a great number of different answers. To our thinking, cutting-edge innovation is best left to, we might use Pixar as a perfect example of cutting-edge animation, and while their output is certainly outstanding and perhaps even the best in the world.

Yet it’s also important to remember that even Pixar uses software programs and animation tools that they themselves may not have innovated from the bottom up at every level. So, not every single cutting-edge development happens directly from scratch, it’s all about leveraging the tools you have to create something new, important, and needed.

If you’re looking to take your business to the next level, you may wonder exactly how to best integrate cutting-edge tools, like the best digital health management platforms – – to do so. But it’s always essential to do so in the right way, as opposed to just chasing novelty for the sake of it. In this way, you grow the roots of your business tree at the same pace as its branches reaching outwards, helping you avoid top-heavy issues that lead to problems down the road.

In this post, then, we’ll give you advice for achieving exactly that:

Cutting-Edge Development Is Rarely Fast

The idea that you’re going to innovate better than any other brand in your industry within a matter of weeks is pretty unlikely to happen. However, with some investment, you can certainly see your gamble pay off and benefit for a time.

For example, Microsoft carefully researched the opportunity cost of investing in OpenAI and its ChatGPT product before giving them a spicy ten billion, and now its Bing search engine boasts a more personalized service than Google thanks to that integration.

This isn’t perfect and it’s taking some time to properly format, but the innovation here shows a courageous step towards acceptable risk, and many user converts are being made because of it. It’s important to note that like this example, cutting-edge norms are rarely adopted quickly, but planned for, and even made in accordance with deeper risk.

Identifying Opportunity Cost

To be at the cutting-edge of a certain discipline, it often means that you have to put all of your weight into maintaining and sustaining that process. It’s not as if you can have a casual attitude towards adopting your cutting-edge measures.

For this reason, it’s essential to consider the opportunity cost of excelling in that one area. If a professional chef hopes to win and sustain his or her three Michelin stars, they have to uphold standards at any cost, work most of the day, prepare for regular inspections, and change their menu completely with new and innovative recipes, using the freshest possible produce.

Opportunity cost is the considered sacrifice you make in order to achieve one outcome over another. So for example, if your restaurant prioritizes winning that status and acclaim over everything else, it can’t take the easy option, look to cost-cut in order to maximize profits, and will no doubt accept a much more intense form of business management than an easy and comfortable ownership approach.

This example shows that with cutting-edge processes come opportunity costs. Make sure you’re aware of those and tacitly accept them before moving forward with confidence.

Cutting-Edge Focus Is A Singular Specialism

It’s hard for a company to develop a cutting-edge approach to everything they use and offer. So, it’s best to consider a direct pursuit you can excel in, as opposed to becoming a jack of all trades and master of none.

So for example, in your industry, you may decide to onboard cutting-edge sustainability practices. This might involve removing any and all plastics from your packaging and supply-side production line.

You may simply wish to develop the best and most convenient app compared to your competition, ensuring clients can book appointments and manage their accounts with ease. Perhaps you’ll integrate the cutting-edge services of another, such as how many car manufacturers have integrated Spotify into their all-in-one computer user interfaces and speaker systems.

Excel in one area, and you can slowly expand that competence over time. This helps you avoid biting off more than you can chew.

Thought Leadership

Thought leadership isn’t always about providing the most proven data-driven insights, but of throwing up essential questions, working through them, and bringing new attitudes, norms, and perspectives to an industry worth questioning.

Without thought leadership, no cutting-edge practices can be adopted. You might not even have the potential to conceptualize the next step in the market without that.

As you can imagine, before the iPhone was invented we’re certain that Apple’s design team, along with Steve Jobs, had to question if employing many small programs on a mobile phone, developed by third-party programmers, would be ideal for a phone ecosystem they wanted to control.

Ultimately, they decided that yes, creating a marketplace for such programs would be an essential step forward in rejuvenating the mobile market, and look how successful that was. As you can see, sometimes, thought leadership isn’t about having the full solution at your fingertips right now, but it does mean being able to ask those questions, collaborate, network, and let that orient your next step.

Agility & Adaptability

The Covid-19 pandemic, for all of its difficulties and tragedy, gave us some very real insights into the corporate world. While this is a distinct generalization, it’s important to note that many companies that were agile and adaptable had a better chance of surviving lockdowns, plummeting customer demand, and changing marketplace norms.

This might involve how quick they were to adapt remote working strategies; how quickly they were able to alternative their supply chain use, and how they may have pivoted their business plans to better help them through that tough period. For example, we even saw very static and inflexible businesses like restaurants change towards food delivery, offering hamper baskets, and integrating more closely with their local community.

This is just a small example to show that agile supply chain management, planning out alternate delivery strategies, and investing in communication is itself a form of cutting-edge development. If you’re to invest in any business virtue, this can be a great place to start.

Branding & Marketing

If investing so much in achieving cutting-edge competence as a business, it’s essential to brand and market your business around that fact, as it relates to the consumer. Perhaps you’re the business that succeeds in the highest reported satisfaction rates among staff employed in that industry – that’s a huge virtue to shout about.

Perhaps you’re taking a brand new focus toward sustainability drives you truly believe in – this is absolutely worth promoting too. Integrate this into your brand narrative so you become known for it. Let’s use another restaurant example to make this point. When you think of a retail fast-food brand able to satisfy your cravings for fried chicken, who do you think of?

For many people, KFC and its mythical secret herbs and spices recipe has given many people the impression that this iconic taste can and will only ever be found as part of that food chain. This is an example of how baked-in competence and careful brand narrative ensure cutting edge competence is not only something you adopt and live up to, but a practice you become known for, not only throug organic word of mouth.

Processes Rest On Principles

Ultimately, you can’t offer a cutting-edge approach to any element of your business production or service development without having a strong principled foundation. This cuts right to the core of your brand values and how they express themselves.

Let’s suggest that your brand offers the best possible value for money out of many companies operating in the same space. You allow this by cutting into your possible profits ever so slightly to bring the best value-added proposition to those who trust in your brand.

This is not a decision you take lightly, it’s one you focus on because you believe in the reasons for doing so. That might be a desire to serve as wide a market as possible, or to show your real appreciation for your customers. The same might go for companies that structure competitive, complete and pro-worker contracts to its employees.

For example, the current SAG-AFRA strikes in Hollywood are fighting for better pay and better job conditions. Many mainline studios have not given into the demands. However, A24, a well-known but smaller studio have accepted all of the requirements asked of them, and are now running back into their regular production schedule. This cutting-edge approach to employment standards will define it as a studio to invest in, to focus on, to support, and to spread goodwill around. As you can see, processes that remain at the cutting edge of your industry will not inform the principles you have, it’s the principles that will inform the processes.

With this advice, you’re sure to consider the essential pillars of cutting-edge commercial competence. This way, as you move forward into developing the best brand you can be, you won’t rest on platitudes, misguided orientation, or simply trying to be first for the sake of it.

Leave a Comment