Opportunities are often circular and in the investment landscape we are increasingly seeing the demand and rise of traditional sectors. These sectors have never gone away but are reinventing themselves in a new guise, for instance Mining and Agriculture.
What is most interesting is how they are now supported by technology. A colleague recently suggested to me that there was no need for tech sector team – as tech is now a function across all sectors. I found this to be an interesting perspective. Technology underpins everything we do. We rely on technology for our journey to work, how we shop, exercise and businesses rely on technology to operate and to stay on top of competition.
The definition of sectors can be complex, and we are often asked by clients to research a region’s sector strengths or identify international companies for an opportunity. This could include researching new companies to invest in a region or to define an offer by sub-sector or activity. However, the definition and scope of a sector can vary depending on the offer and the specialism that underpins it. For instance, a region could have an offer in the Space sector, but it could vary from satellite manufacturing to support services. This is often the case with technology industry.
What is most important is understanding and marketing your sector appropriately. At OCO we frequently talk about the importance of knowledge and using it as our key differentiator as it forms the basis of all client proposals and educated decisions. As the first step in all assignments, OCO gathers research on the topic and ensures all background information is reviewed as it informs how we approach a project. It ensures we don’t repeat or identify companies or approaches that have been covered previously and inspires new ideas.
Our Consulting work needs to be cemented by facts as we need to provide an evidence base for our recommendations. Let’s face it, Consultants are researchers at heart!
Knowing what your competition is doing is also a very powerful tool. For instance, all large retailers use the knowledge they build up on customer profiles to help target and market to their customers. In the world of economic development, we need to do the same. We need to understand what our investors want and increasingly it’s short and sharp information on the location and sector. Company structures and the way we engage have changed dramatically in the last 5 years, for example, the make-up of boardrooms is increasingly diverse in terms of age, gender and race. The people making decisions are from a new generation and sharing of information is more fluid due to technology advances. As a result we need to embrace these changes and get with the programme.
Technology businesses talk about allowing consumers to do things with minimal friction. The less hassle the easier it is to do business and easy access to knowledge is part of this. We all have access to data but how do you know what to present and how to present it? It needs to be easily digestible.
However, research and pulling together a strong reliable and up to date knowledge base can be time consuming. Increasingly, we are doing this on behalf of our clients and being asked to keep abreast of trends.
One of the challenges with disseminating knowledge is not be distracted by the ‘noise’ and understand what is relevant for you.