Economic pressure and accelerating speed of global competition, deregulation and technological change are the primary drivers of an increased usage of market & competitive intelligence and competitive intelligence across all industries.
Successful business planning and development requires a good understanding of market potential, and of your capabilities against those of your competitors. Yet, 92% of respondents in a recent US survey felt that they needed a more systematic approach to competitor intelligence, while 75% of respondents in a comparable UK survey were dissatisfied with their current methods of organising marketing information. What these organisations lack are effective Market Intelligence Systems and Processes.
A Market Intelligence System is one that systematically gathers and processes critical business information, transforming it into actionable management intelligence for marketing decisions.
In order to maintain such strong systems professionally Market & Competitive Intelligence units are being developed and established in global corporations and large organizations to prepare their businesses for efficient and educated decision taking and strategy adjustments.
This article guides you through the systematic approach of recognizing your organization's specific intelligence needs, setting the framework of a strong market & competitive intelligence function and finally to implement necessary steps and elements for an intelligence units that should add sustained value to the businesses bottom line.
What it all boils down to is this: will your company or organization be able to efficiently, quickly and completely understand market opportunities or threats and react successfully and timely to create maximum business impact?
Status Quo vs. Potential Impact of Market & Competitive Intelligence - Ask the Questions!
How to become able to see more of what’s all around you so you can take better decisions about what just happened, what’s likely to happen next, and what to do about it. In a structured, efficient and most likely effective (impacting) way?
This catalogue of questions will not only prepare you for the first big picture but it might excite you and your peers right from the start.
By answering these questions you will also become aware of hot spots and issues pretty quickly. Addressing them with decision makers as improvement potential along with resolution suggestions might grant you the first home run in the long game of setting up your company's Market & Competitive Intelligence function.
Ask these vital questions, first yourself, record intermediate suggestions and resulting, additional questions and concerns and go work through the extended catalogue with peers and managers of your trust:1. Determine Demand
What do we need to know in order to make decisions?
How will this information be used?
What questions or problems will it help us solve?
Who needs the information? 2. Intelligence Supply
How do we gather data?
What are the reporting and analytical processes? 3. Application, Implementation
What do you do differently as a result of this information?
What type of value can we achieve from using this information? Furthermore, gap-analyze this demand/supply situation and identify goals.
Potential Benefits of Market & Competitive Intelligence - Sell it early to create buy-in!
After recognizing and fine-tuning the potential impact for your company or organization it is time to flesh out clear benefits to start creating buy-in.
Don’t underestimate the motivational impact of professional intelligence, easily digestible and transformed into actionable sales goals settings and marketing target developments. Your sales force and marketing staff will be thrilled with excitement if opportunities become transparent on a constant basis.
Therefore your benefits need to be "sold" with very clear resolution path ways being made visible. You can only create strong buy-in when benefit are recognized in context with solutions that everyone can follow.
Study published material, via intelligence associations or literature on the topic and pick general benefits that apply to your organization.
A short list of top level benefits could look like this:
- Identification of new opportunities - e.g. identify new trends before our markets and competitors.
- Early warning of competitor moves - enable counter measures.
- Minimizing investment risks - detect threats and trends early on.
- Better customer interaction - inherit intensified customer market view.
- Better market selection & positioning - understand where your offer fits and discover untapped or under-served potential.
- Quicker, more efficient and cost-effective information - avoid duplication of report acquisitions and expensive consultant work.
Develop such a list for any target group with details that deepen the understanding.
Goals for a Market & Competitive Intelligence Function - Benefits Translated
As with any other objective, if benefits are clearly based on real requirements it should be fairly straight forward to define the goals: simply by translating benefits into them.
Improve competitiveness - Right info at the right time in the right format.
Intelligence can make all the difference of winning or losing in the market place. Speed and simplicity will help marketers and sales staff to move in hard on the competition by not only predicting but acting consciously and aggressively on the competitor’s and customer's moves.
Increase efficiency - Avoid long searching, offer quick finding.
Readily available intelligence, disseminated through standard tools and processes provide speed and promote utilization of market & competitive intelligence.
Safe cost - Stop multiple report and consultancy service acquisitions.
Larger , global organizations experience this all the time if there is no transparency established.
Follow the recommendations below to define more goals.
These could include the following goals:
- Cost savings through efficient use of intelligence (avoiding search)
- Cost savings through increased risk/damage control
- Cost savings through globally managed reports acquisition, avoiding duplication
- Cost savings through avoidance of multiple intelligence tasks
- Productivity increase through reduction of material to be consumed and increased user-friendliness / standardization
- Sales increase through improved customer call preparations
- Revenue increase through sales loss avoidance
- Increased profitability through early adoption to new market opportunities (early market access, created markets justify higher margins)
Implementing the Market & Competitive Intelligence Function - Steb-by-Step
Every business process, tool or structure can only deliver benefits and value when properly implemented. Market & Competitive Intelligence processes and tools are no different and thus a great deal of resource and effort is to be allocated to the preparation and the actual process of implementation.
Most important considerations to come clear with are:
- Success Factors of the Market Intelligence Unit
- Market Intelligence User Identification
- Intelligence Requirement Gathering
- Intelligence Gap Analysis
- Intelligence Sourcing Strategy
- Intelligence Policies, Standards
- Piloting of Intelligence Systems & Depositories
- Market Inteligence Tools & Process Roll-Out
- Promotion of Intelligence Systems
Having clear implementation in mind all these considerations should be worked on in great detail, preferrably with an established functional or virtual intelligence team that either represents or even runs the Market & Competitive Intelligence function.
A way more complete guide for Market & Competitive Intelligence units and interactive forums and blogs for intelligence professionals is available at my web site at MarkIntell.com.
Working in a leading role as a Market & Competitive Intelligence professional it is my utmost motivation to bring counter parts and peers, intelligence professionals of all sorts together and collectively grow on the demanding discipline of establishing and running a Market & Competitive Intelligence unit or function.
For much more detail and practical examples of the implementation steps tunr to the MarkIntell.com Implementation Guide.
- Enrich this catalogue of questions with specific considerations regarding your own company/organization and present it to key stakeholders in a simple questionnaire fashion.
While you want to gather answers for the DEMAND questions from your peers, colleagues and your future intlligence network, the SUPPLY questions need to be answered by you and anyone who actively develops the Market & Competitive Intelligence function or unit.
The third block of questions needs to be addressed by the final intelligence users, management, other decision makers that will consume the products and results of your intelligence function.
- Mostly driven by informal efforts, support gathering and coaching of processes and tools, the internal promotion for the business intelligence functions benefits should put user requirements into the center of activities. Meaning: scenarios, based on real world examples could be presented by sales managers or marketers themselves both in person and in writing.
Testimonials and supportive statements by top management can be very intriguing to the targeted internal audience. If intelligence users can relate to what is being demonstrated on slides and in meetings or online presentations, chances are they will take the intelligence effort more serious.
Invite any discussion partner to think of a clear benefit for herself. This will both enrich your long list of benefits that you can work with and invite future stakeholders very early to actively participate in the development.
This way you would prevent the dangerous "Not Invented Here" syndrome on a broad front.
- Support by your IT department, legal advisors, HR, security, procurement group and others needs to be allocated early, preferrably prior to implementation.
Depending on your dessimination method, IT support and budgets would be a major project part anyway. Not to forget: prepare counter intelligence and security measure with your security and legal folks. Also legal and procurement professionals would be needed for contracts, negotiations, aquisition of services and products, etc.
Turn to MarkIntell.com for a more complete list and more ideas plus the chance to exchange with other intelligence professionals.