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New market growth takes experience and agility

Breaking into a new market demands good old fashioned know-how combined with the passion of a startup

By Jason Mackay

Going to market today is fundamentally different than it has been in any era in the history of business. This is even more true when setting down stakes in a new market.

Early in my career, I had the good fortune to helm a startup business. While the lessons learned remain incredibly valuable, today’s business landscape would likely be unrecognizable to my younger self. Businesses now operate better, stronger and faster; we have the technology.

A brave new business world

Digital transformation has changed the very fabric of competition. Small or mid-sized companies and new market entrants can use the cloud as a platform to enable agility within their businesses, while incumbents are using it to speed up the actual process of transforming their business.

Meanwhile government data privacy rules and regulations—sparked themselves by the growth in data and to protecting citizens against abuse or misuse of their information—have dramatically changed the means by which business can go to market.

Finally, but most importantly, the pace of business has accelerated to near break neck speeds. There’s the old entrepreneurial maxim that startup businesses should “fail fast.” Well, today every business must succeed fast, or they will be left behind their nimbler competitors.

Coming to Canada

These major changes to the business landscape loomed large for me when, in 2015, I was called on to head up COMPAREX Group’s entrance into the Canadian market.

They were not simply important because they impacted our ability to build and grow, but also because our customers and prospects would be traversing the same digitally-enabled, highly-competitive landscape—and, again, at near breakneck speeds.

Fortunately had several major advantages: the 30-year heritage of the global parent; a strong position in the Microsoft ecosystem; an amazing team of people; and, our own digital transformation.

In many ways, we had to start from scratch, deploying the same performance-boosting technologies we do for our customers, enabling mobility, leveraging the cloud, business intelligence and analytics. We very much lived on the bleeding edge, but we also had a hidden ace: we were also part of a global company with three decades of expertise in IT.

We built powerful bidirectional communications and quickly realized what we always knew: the more we shared, the more we received.

Changing how we change

Part of what we do for our customers is change management, and providing the support and safety net throughout their change process. It’s also something we needed to manage flawlessly ourselves when launching in Canada.

Fortunately, or unfortunately in some cases, change comes down to people. Just as technology is driving revolutionary shifts in how we do business, it’s also changed how people accept change. The creep of IT into personal lives has made everyone more open how technology can improve their workflow.

Changes in the workforce over past decades such as diversity across gender, cultures and generations has also helped make employees more open to and faster to embrace change.

Startups and new entrants to a market naturally have an innate advantage when it comes to change. Consider the changing the direction of the Titanic versus making a sharp turn on a motorcycle. Yet, existing companies must move rapidly to evolve and transform their business. They have the advantage that when it comes to managing change, the processes, the fundamentals, don’t really change that much.

I can’t stress enough that transformation for any business — new or old — while enabled by technology, ultimately comes down to people.

To that end, we have put together an amazing team at COMPAREX Canada. They’ve been leading edge in terms of how we go to market, leverage the digital world, help our customers and contribute back to the global organization.

For us, our journey was fortunate to bridge the best of both worlds: agility and hunger but with 30-years of expertise to call upon — a startup with backup.

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