Ryan Dempsey, CEO of The Compliance Workbook, talks about the rise of copycat competitors in Housing Tech and how true innovation is more important than it has ever been…
I read an article recently about ‘Copycat Competitors’. It was interesting because I can see the issue first hand in the housing sector right now. From a technology perspective, of course – there is no question that we need more social housing.
The use of technology in today’s climate is essential. Since the beginning of lockdown, we have seen an increase in use for things like Microsoft Teams. Last year they had 13 million users worldwide, and exactly 12 months later, 75 million. Incredible.
However, with that increase in use comes the ‘pretend innovators’, the companies and individuals who look at the increase as an opportunity to grow something they can build to compete with the brands that already operate in that sector.
The difference between a true innovator and a pretend innovator is the necessity, experience, understanding, and lateral mindset that puts the true innovator ahead of the game each time.
The pretend innovator always keeps his/her ears to the ground to develop and grow quickly to compete with those who truly want to make a difference. The issue with this is the faults that arise from rushed work, and possibly not having the in-depth knowledge of the problem they are aiming to solve.
Every housing professional reading this knows that the companies who simply try to sell something against a more superior brand end up using you to define and scope improvements, meaning you are fuelling the development of a product that will ultimately make money from your ideas while charging you for the pleasure.
The housing sector is currently in this place. You can see new software companies appearing and talking about innovation in process, but for those of us who’ve worked in the sector, we can see there are already brands doing that.
The difference is that the copycat competitors are putting makeup on the product to blindside you into thinking it does something other than what you probably already have. I mean, that’s almost as crazy as putting lipstick on a pig and calling it something other than a pig.
When I first started in social housing I was quickly introduced to Orchard, CAPITA, Civica, Northgate, and Keystone. There were a couple of other platforms, but they were specific to particular sized customers. I really couldn’t name the brands in the market now: there are tons of them.
Anyway, let’s wrap this up. How do we spot true innovation in three easy steps?:
- Uniqueness – Asking the right questions will show that the brand has stepped up to create a solution to a problem vs those that are trying to educate the market to a problem that promotes their brand
- They don’t compete – A true innovator understands that there will be competition, but is too focussed on the ideas and development they want to concern themselves with copycat competitors
- Brand loyalty – I’m not talking about one or two customers who’ve had their egos stroked to promote something, I mean real brand loyalty; it’s very easy to tell someone that your product is great, but it isn’t easy to get the world talking about it
Right now, we have too many brands competing for the same piece of bread. Don’t be duped by the silly words that tickle enthusiasm. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality, and the great world of Big Data: these are just sales patter for brands that can’t sell their product using its core offering.
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