What do high-performing companies do to improve their global competitiveness?

According to the Deloitte's Global Competitiveness in Manufacturing Initiative there are up to 43 different competitive capabilities that can make the difference and can be clasified in 4 groups: qualifiers, game changers, creating advantage and being challenged. 

"Qualifiers" are capabilities for which high performers and the other companies do not significantly differ. 

“Game changers” are capabilities in which high-performers stand apart from the pack and in which they likely will continue to lead. Brand image, leadership and management, business strategy, R&D capabilities, delivery speed, overall manufacturing processes, supplier network strength, and balance sheet strength were some of the game changers that high performers possessed. They are the elements of the genetic code that truly set high performers a cut above the rest.

“Creating advantage” capabilities are those in which high performers currently hold no significant advantage over other companies in current performance, but which are viewed as much more important by high performers than by other companies with regard to future competitiveness. Innovation capabilities, quality of human resources, global marketing, and procurement capabilities dominate the creating advantage group of capabilities for high performers.

“Being challenged” capabilities are those in which high performers currently hold a strong lead, but where they may lose ground as other manufacturers catch up and close the gap.

Obviously not all the competitive capabilities affect in the same way to all the sectors. As an example the industrial products sector has its own insights:

1. Reputation, product quality, and customer perceptions are at a premium: These areas are game changers for this traditionally B2B sector, whereas they are qualifiers for most other manufacturing sectors. High performers in this sector are significantly ahead of other manufacturers in developing a stellar reputation and fostering a strong perception of value and quality in their customers’ eyes, giving them a valuable competitive advantage.

2. Slow to reach global customers and markets: Global sales and marketing capabilities have relatively low values for current competitiveness and future importance and show little differentiation from other industrial products companies even for high performers in this sector. There is room to create significant differentiation in this sector through effective global sales and marketing.

3. Lagging on research and innovation: R&D capabilities, innovative product designs, and the overall quality of human resources are areas where even high-performing manufacturers in this sector rated their capabilities as generally mediocre. These are either game changers or creating advantage capabilities in other manufacturing sectors.

Finally there are some key findings on the future competitive advantages that the Deloitte's study shows:

1. High performers are getting serious about innovation.
2. Talent wars are just beginning. Innovation requires talent, so it is not surprising that high performers are placing considerable emphasis on talent acquisition and human capital development at all levels.
3. Manufacturing is globalizing again. 
4. Supply chain networks are leveraging collaboration for innovation and talent.

In summary this research suggests that high-performing manufacturers are now getting truly focused on the capabilities that drive growth: disruptive innovation, superior talent development and acquisition, finding new global customers, and creating new global markets.