Tech is vital for firms to stay competitive, says expert

Businesses which do not make the most of new technology are at risk of losing market share, an expert on entrepreneurship has warned.

Companies need to sell products through mobile devices and make use of big data to remain competitive, said Dr Marc-Michael Bergfeld yesterday.

Dr Bergfeld made these remarks during a lecture at Nanyang Technological University.

"Consumer power has literally shifted to the hand of the individual; that's where we make our decisions today," he noted.

"We don't care about who owns the taxi or hotel, we decide on the spot on our mobile phone and then we'll just find one."

By collecting data on consumer preferences, competitors can also come up with new business models, sell more products and pressure incumbent firms, he said.

Dr Bergfeld cited one approach that businesses could adopt.

They could first focus on gaining market share by offering mobile payment services.

Then, they could collect information on consumer preferences, and reframe their business model based on that information.

Companies can also collaborate with or invest in firms that offer mobile device technologies or technologies that collect customer data.

Such technology firms could provide information on digital trends.

Using this knowledge, the company could then develop a new business which takes advantage of such trends and gradually blend that business with its existing one.

"You don't give up what you do at the moment, but you add something so that the combination of both is protection for the long term," he said.

For instance, a retailer could invest in a payments solution company which can help it develop its e-commerce business, he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2016, with the headline 'Tech is vital for firms to stay competitive, says expert'. Print Edition | Subscribe