There has never been a time in history when businesses have had this level of access to technologies to accelerate growth. Competitive landscapes and  customer needs are evolving more rapidly than ever and companies need to respond quickly to stay relevant.

Some of the most traditional 'bricks and mortar' companies are starting to come up with new and exciting ways to respond to change, stay relevant and accelerate their growth. Ikea recently acquired the odd job platform TaskRabbit to give its customers a frictionless connection with people willing to shop, transport and assemble their Ikea furniture. CEO, Torbjorn Loof, recognizes that the competitive landscape is changing and is using technology to respond; they are also delving into augmented reality and piloting selling online through third parties by next year.

While you may not have the budget to acquire a tech startup, it's important to stay alert to the signs that you need to move quicker:

1. You notice shifts in the needs and buying preferences of your customers.

Get out there and talk to your customers and your potential customers. Understand their needs and preferences, bring that thinking back into your team and ask how you can respond to these changes. Start a pilot to co-create or co-fix a product/service/process with your customers to get a better awareness of their needs and impetus to go faster. 

2. Your channel partners are changing faster than you.

Your business ecosystem is evolving. Work with your partners to pool knowledge and resources to learn faster together. Microsoft regularly brings it channel partners into its technology centers so they can learn about its technology and so the company can better understand partners' needs and challenges

3. Your business has enjoyed a reputation as an industry leader.

If your business has thrived as an industry leader, now is not the time to relax. Don't rest on your laurels -- go faster to stay on top. Create some urgency and healthy paranoia! Take a learning journey. A group of senior leaders from Prudential spent a day at Google, which challenged their view about how fast they could go, the nature of advertising and how they could connect with their customers. 

4. Your competitors are going faster than you.

This is a clear warning sign that you need to get all hands on deck. Now before you are gobbled up. Do a scan of your top three competitors that share or are acquiring your customers -- ask yourself what are they doing differently and why. 

5. Technology is changing how you make or sell your products.

Don't be the next Encyclopedia Britannica or Yahoo. Go faster to build greater digital literacy throughout your company. Johnson & Johnson have embraced Medtech; they led the founding of the Asia Pacific Medical Technology Association to improve patient care in Asia through innovative medical and technology collaborations. 

Be prepared to keep having sprints like these in the future if you want to keep up but make time  to recover between them so you and your team don't run out of steam. Don't get caught up in boom-splat cycles; if you make time to recover and learn from high-exertion sprints so you can get insights to improve future performance or about what new capabilities you need to develop.

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Published on: Oct 24, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.