Earlier this summer, Volvo made a bold announcement: Beginning in 2019, the company will sell exclusively electric or electric-assist vehicles.
While the shift will come with many challenges, it’s hard to argue that it’s a great move from a PR standpoint. Volvo, whose global market share is just 0.6%, enjoyed a massive increase in media attention after making the announcement. Not only does it represent a great push toward sustainability for Volvo’s brand, but it will also make the company more appealing with regards to recruitment and a probable IPO in the near future.
Is Following Trends Fruitful or Futile?
When the latest and greatest tech hits your industry, you have two options: to be the very first to adopt it or to wait a while and let someone else deal with the problems first.
There are risks and rewards associated with both options. If you jump in head-first and are the first to succeed, you'll go down in history as a pioneer (and you might end up rich and famous, too). But if just the idea of taking risks makes your palms sweat, you might be better off letting someone else try it out first. What's important, though, is to make up your mind on how to relate to new technologies.
Even if you’re not an early adopter, that doesn't mean you can bury your head in the sand. You should still follow what’s happening in technology and understand how it will affect your industry and company. Whatever you do, don't ignore it — ignorance is bliss, but it's not a viable strategic response to new technologies.
Looking to stay ahead of the curve? Follow these guidelines for remaining on the cusp of the latest developments:
1. Stay Constantly Curious
Be curious and stay informed about new technologies, but don’t believe for a second that you'll have all the information when it’s time to make a decision. Get information from as many different sources as you can, and stay open-minded as you’re reading, listening, and talking about new technologies.
This can be time-consuming and overwhelming to fit into your daily routine, but don't panic. Even a changing mindset and a bit of curiosity will take you far, and, more importantly, it will give you the chance to stay ahead of the competition.
2. Predict the Future (Sort Of)
Try to get a sense of when the new technology will have its breakthrough.
Is there still hype around it? Is it a topic like blockchain that you’re seeing all over your newsfeed? This means that it's early on the adoption curve. Or is the news more about real applications, such as cloud computing or the Internet of Things? If so, it's probably because there's an actual transformation going on and you have to decide how — not if — you should adapt to this technological change.
When you have a better idea about how new and useful the technology is, it will be easier to judge when you should adopt it and implement it into your business strategy.
3. Figure Out How It'll Affect You
When you discover an interesting technology, it’s important to assess the business implications from an industry, customer, and company perspective. Keep a close eye on your competition to see what they're doing, and try to get an accurate picture of new business models and standards and regulations that will emerge as a result of the change.
Satisfied customers might also be wary of changing processes or products, so prove to them that you know what you're doing by illustrating how the change will improve their lives — because seeing is believing, after all.
In the case of Volvo and the electric car, what appears to be a gamble is actually a savvy move based on an overwhelming amount of market research. Global sales of electric cars doubled in 2012 and 2013, and electric vehicles are expected to make up 10% of all vehicles sold by 2020. So while Volvo’s big announcement is bold, it isn’t gambling so much as it is preparing for a changing market.