A key observation in Geoffrey Moore’s latest book, Zone to Win, is that modern businesses are profoundly impacted by disruption plus speed coupled with the tension between protecting the existing business from disruption and innovating to catch the next wave. There is no simple answer. Where do you focus amidst all the chaos? Organizations are typically awash in internal information about their offers, technology, and capabilities but lack intelligence and understanding regarding their external environment.
There are many tools available for organizations to look at and listen to the external environment, the market. Here are a few. Customer satisfaction surveys are one way to glean external market feedback. At a very high level, a PEST Analysis examines the Political/Regulatory, Economic, Social, and Technology trends and the impact they have on an organization. Drilling down, a Five Forces Analysis examines an organization’s immediate rivals, the threat of new entrants and substitutes, as well as the power exerted by buyers and suppliers. Win/Loss Analysis is effective at identifying the specifics on why you win and lose deals and to whom. The aforementioned tools combine primary and secondary research techniques to cast a wide net to capture information and connect the dots about your market.
In markets that are fast moving and highly disruptive, knowledge of the external market is a great place to start.