OPINION7 October 2021

Is ‘coopetition’ the future of business?

B2B Opinion Trends

Working more closely with competitors may become more important to build a consumer-centric approach, says Nikki Lavoie.

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Ever heard of keeping your friends close, but your enemies closer? Nowadays, while some are still hesitant to share secrets with enemies, other competing companies are taking an ‘enemies to lovers’ approach – or at least a new friendly and collaborative one – with each other after having discovered the benefits of ‘coopetitive’ business practices.

Coopetition (cooperative competition) is the collaboration between business competitors in a shared industry or practice. OK, but does this actually work? Realistically, can companies risk sharing their clients and resources with competitors?

From our standpoint, the practice of coopetition is much more of a collaborative strategy. Rather than forcing companies to share their private business secrets or pass up on opportunities, the approach encourages businesses to network and build connections to better serve customers’ needs and to showcase each company’s strengths and abilities.

Shift from corporation-centric to consumer-centric?

While I won’t say competition is quite a thing of the past, the idea of business being corporation-centric has aged rapidly. Quite frankly, the future of business is consumer-centric. A consumer-centric approach prioritises creating a business transaction that serves the consumer the best quality product, service, experience, and even relationship.

By adopting a customer-centric approach to business, companies encourage consumer transactions through accessibility and quality of a product or service and further catering towards consumers’ values and experiences with the brand. 

Now, this is not to say that companies are leaping through hoops to prove that ‘the customer is always right'. However, it refers to the practice of partnering or referencing competitors to more easily meet consumer needs, which we think is the way forward.

What corporations got on the coopetitive train already?

Digitally adapted leading companies, such as competitors Microsoft and Apple, and other tech and entertainment corporations, have taken advantage of technological and communication developments to implement coopetitive projects and procedures offering opportunities for shared skills and practices.

A 2020 survey by Gartner found that 80% of companies and institutions had plans to invest more in digitally transforming processes and services. Additionally, the World Economic Forum shared a study by Technology Vision, finding that 76% of business executives believed that future innovative success would be reliant on exploring new tech advanced cooperation with external and third parties.

We encourage companies to jump at new collaborative tech opportunities that will only grow exponentially with the conjoining of digital advancements and new cooperative approaches.

Why are so many professionals and companies only approaching this strategy now?

While the practice has existed for several years now, global events following March 2020 catalysed a transition in values, goals, and resources within societies and communities. With new technological and digital developments creating new solutions for commerce and transaction processes, there is now a demand that businesses and corporations continue adapting to keep up with new social needs and interests.

Today, it is apparent that by refusing to adapt to fluctuating consumer needs, businesses could risk sacrificing current and potential clients to competitors who are willing to go the extra mile.

So, how could coopetition affect you?

  1. Expect new designs, features, and products. Companies can expand their capabilities and create new and more products by sourcing competitors of the same or similar markets
  2. There has been a burst of innovation in technology and digital products, and you could be in store for improved quality of products and services from some of your favourite consumer brands
  3. Social entrepreneurship is also on the increase, as individual professionals, collectives, and businesses team up to build solutions to communal issues typically centred around cultural advocacy, environmental concerns, and other social issues
  4. Coopetition is encouraging inclusion in highly competitive industries by creating space for new and smaller businesses to work with and share a target audience with larger, dominating corporations.

Across the globe, we are straying further away from corporation-centric traditional business practices that focus solely on fulfilling transactions to new practices that instead strive toward prioritising consumer needs and experience. A new, inclusive and progressive business world is blooming, and businesses must take advantage of the opportunity to cooperate and share resources to better and more expansively serve users, consumers, and communal needs.

So if you’re an insights professional or an independent practitioner, we highly suggest you take the time to proactively send a friendly message to your competitors or to be open to collaborative opportunities.

Nikki Lavoie is founder and chief executive at MindSpark