RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AS A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
✍ Sergej Zafiroski – General Manager of the research and consulting agency Insider ID
The opening of the Macedonian economy to more and more companies, as well as the opportunities for domestic companies on the European market, significantly change the business climate in the country. The Macedonian market is small and financially limited, which imposes the need for companies to constantly find ways to maintain growth and development. Business models that companies used ten years ago are now nearly unusable and obsolete. The very dynamics of the markets are significantly different, which imposes the need to incorporate the change into the company’s strategic model. The way of doing business has completely changed, especially in the area of decision-making, strategy and adaptation to changes. Only 15 years ago, some of the key activities today did not exist at all. Social media, YouTube and the Internet in general, without which today it is impossible to imagine the operation of a company, regardless of the industry, were not even mentioned at all.
Central to all change is the information that is available and the speed at which change occurs, which is again driven by information. The shorter the time between the appearance of the data, its processing into information, and the creation of a reaction by the company, the greater the probability of success. A company that does not have data on consumer behavior, employee satisfaction, market trends, internal changes and processes, competition, legal changes, and that before competitors and new companies, will most likely not be successful in the market. Conversely, those who have the data at their disposal have a significant competitive advantage.
There are generally four main alternatives for serious growth of domestic companies. The first is internationalization through entering new regional and global markets and the second is process optimization, but growth using that alternative is limited due to the small domestic market. The third is a hybrid of the previous two, i.e. parallel optimization of processes with the start of internationalization. The fourth is the association of companies from the same but also different sectors for joint performance on foreign markets.
Ultimately, for the company to maintain itself, create a competitive advantage and sustainable long-term growth, it is necessary to have information about every aspect of the operation before the competition. For successful internationalization, it is necessary to know the behavior of consumers and companies in the target market, but also to analyze which model is most appropriate to implement the process. For successful optimization of the processes, an analysis of the internal processes and definition of the space where that optimization is possible is required. The combined performance of several companies only facilitates part of the analysis because the responsibility and the process are shared, but in such a situation more research and information is needed to satisfy the requirements of each individual company. Experienced, only a continuously established system, whether internal or using external expertise for research and information processing can enable continuous development.
Continuous research and analysis of the data available to companies is the most important means by which they can create a competitive advantage. The investment of Macedonian companies in research and development as well as the establishment of processes that ensure continuous processing of information lags behind significantly in the region. Still, such activities are classified as an expense that companies have to do in “good days” or as an item of marketing.
Research and information should be the basis on which the business strategy will be created. For example, after a change in consumer behavior that the company did not foresee, the research can only define the change and why it occurred, but the room for adaptation and/or taking a position of active creation of the company’s trend is reduced. It’s just that other companies defined and promptly “caught” the trend. Detecting change before it occurs opens up the opportunity to adapt early and in many situations profit significantly from it. Detecting changes or unfulfilled desires among consumers allows the company to market a new product/service, improve the current assortment, increase customer satisfaction, turnover and purchase intensity. In fact, research has a direct effect on the entire strategy and operation of the company.
Entering an international market with research on financial size, consumer behavior, competition and cultural differences greatly increases the likelihood of success. In this way, the company will overcome or define most of the obstacles before starting with real