“Moving Beyond the Knowledge Economy”

by Blake D. Craig

As we reach the peak of the “Knowledge Economy”, forward thinking companies are looking at new ways to maintain competitive advantage and differentiate themselves into the future. Increasing abilities to leverage vast amounts of data and automate processes has lead to increased competition and decreased profit margins. While efficient information management has reduced administrative overhead and promoted market insight, it has also reduced barriers to entry and promoted competition. Businesses and consumers are smarter and have access to more alternatives than ever before. Even highly specialized service sector companies are facing the challenges of a commoditization of pricing models.

Successful companies are now looking beyond the “Knowledge Economy” to the newly emerging “Creative Economy” as a means of maximizing their market positioning and net profits. So what exactly is the “Creative Economy”? The “Creative Economy” is a focus on brand identity and innovation. It is a means of connecting with customer’s emotions, linking research to consumer needs. Jeff Immelt (GE’s CEO) describes innovation in the “Creative Economy” as “creativity and imagination applied in a business context”. Immelt recently led GE’s charge to invest more than 5 billion in creative initiatives termed “Imagination Breakthrough” projects. Given their latest quarterly profits surged 24%; I think Immelt and GE have struck a resounding chord with their customers.

GE is not the only company benefiting from the emergence of the “Creative Economy”. Others include Apple, Starbucks, Jetblue, Microsoft, Sony, Dell, BMW, Google, and Wal-Mart. All of these companies and many more, are strengthening their customer rapport by unifying their brand messaging, reinforcing previously under utilized channels of customer communications, and creating engaging user experiences. The effectiveness of corporate branding has long been recognized and promoted through sales and marketing channels. The key insight demonstrated by the “Creative Economy” is not in recognizing the importance of branding, but rather in recognizing that branding is the crucial differentiator in an increasingly optimized competitive business environment.

As the internet has matured into a powerful and stable business economy, traditional retail marketing trends are converging online. Adaptive online systems and instant access insightful analytics allow savvy companies to refine their online initiatives. Using iterative cycles, businesses can maximize the effectiveness of not only their messaging, but also in their core business applications. These techniques lead to substantial measurable bottom line growth from higher conversion rates and reduced operating costs.

Lessons to be learned: