13 Feb

A pleased CEO thanks us for some helpful insight

One of our clients is a clinical stage medical technology company that is racing against several competitors to develop technology designed to restore functionality in patients with severe paralysis. This week, the CEO sent an email to one of our senior analysts thanking her for some helpful insight that was included in this week’s competitive update. (Apologies for the lack of detail here….this is a very competitive space and we are dedicated to supporting the confidentiality and success of our clients.)  

16 Feb

Understanding Your Startup’s Competition

Earlier this month, we hosted a webinar with The University of Minnesota Venture Center. Line of Sight’s Steve Schulz and Teresa Muckala discuss how understanding the competition is a critical competency for any business and share some key tips on how to succeed at it.

View the Webinar to learn:

  • How competitive intelligence experts define competitors
  • Where to find information on your competitors
  • How to analyze and take action based on the intelligence
  • How to use this information in a business plan



07 Jun

SCIP Intellicon 2022

Looking back at SCIP Intellicon 2022, it was an amazing event in so many ways. We enjoyed having the Intelligence community and our team back together in person to celebrate and talk shop. The Line of Sight team gathered early in Minneapolis, kicking the week off cheering the Minnesota Twins to victory. We even successfully turned our partners from Sweden, Comintelli, into Twin’s fans for life.

Line of Sight was honored to be a SCIP Intellicon Bronze Sponsor, exhibiting and meeting so many wonderful people throughout the three-day event. We are truly grateful and proud of our team and the connections that were made!

It’s always interesting to attend events, watch trends and compare the Intelligence function of today to when we started Line of Sight 20 years ago.

When I first started this business, there was a lot of focus on “gathering info and data.” Who is the competition? What, how and where are they selling and competing, etc? That’s what companies wanted – repositories of information on their industry and competition. Although deep data collection is a necessity, data alone isn’t truly useful.

Over the years, there has become a significant maturation and organizational value placed on taking data collection further, one step at a time – triangulating and analyzing the data into digestible, actionable insights. This is what gives leadership the vision and “line-of-sight” into the critical issues impacting their business and the confidence to make the right bets and moves – ahead of the competition.

With this evolution, we are seeing people from all functions of an organization get involved and play a key role in helping form or digest these insights to contribute to the overall strategy. And with this, there is certainly a greater acceptance that data gathering (and the people who do it) is a valuable investment. The Intelligence function is now often seen as a critical business function within organizations.

During Intellicon 2022, we had the opportunity to connect with many attendees about how Line of Sight can help an organization’s intelligence needs. From our Strategic Intelligence Program to Competitive and Industry Analysis, Line of Sight customizes programs to support resource-strapped strategy executives and intelligence teams that have different needs and budgets. Please reach out to us to learn more!

Our team looks forward to continuing to evolve and partner with the intelligence community. We had a great time connecting with everyone at SCIP Intellicon! Until next year…

25 Apr

Celebrating with the Twins for the Win!

Our team gathered this week to celebrate our 20 years in business. We kicked it off watching the Twins win in a 10th inning walk-off. Go Buxton! Thank you to our partners at Comintelli for joining us!

Next up: SCIP Intellicon conference. Visit us at booth 308! https://www.scip.org/page/SCIP-IntelliCon2022-Competitive-Intelligence-Conference

02 Dec

Grateful for You!

As we celebrate 20 years in business this holiday season, our thoughts turn to those who helped shape our business over the years.

We have accomplished amazing things together and we are incredibly thankful for your partnership – either now or in the past. Attached is a card to say thank you!

In the spirit of giving, Line of Sight Group is making a donation in your company’s name to Urban Roots, a Saint Paul organization whose mission is to cultivate and empower youth through nature, healthy food and community.

Sincerely, Steve, Sara, Jen, Jennifer, Erin, Kristi, Teresa, Wayne and all of our associates including Kim, Keisha, Jane, Sonal, Vivian, Allie, Jordan, Emma, and others.

Line of Sight Group




Celebrating 20 years of business in 2022!

17 Nov

With Gratitude from Line of Sight Group

Gratitude is emerging as a dominant change adults want, once the pandemic and other major changes of 2020 are over, according to an ongoing study from Ignite360. The emergence of the gratitude sentiment is an example of a societal change driver. Author Volpe insists that it’s time for action and companies must be proactive, rather than reactive. What opportunities and threats does it represent for your organization? How will your business respond? How will your marketing messages change?

Market and competitive intelligence capabilities, therefore, are more critical than ever. The Line of Sight Group team is thankful to work with customers who understand the power of data and insights! We are always ready to help! 


22 Oct

Adaptive Strategy – How to Understand and Respond to Industry Changes that can Grow (or Ruin) Your Business

When I guest lecture with the MBA students at the University of St. Thomas, I often begin with a question: “What do the following have in common?”

“They are all extinct!” comes the response quickly.

“Why?” I say. “Why are they extinct?”

“Because they failed to adapt.”

“Adapt to what?” I tease.

With a bit of exasperation, they respond with something like this: “CHANGE!! THEY WERE UNABLE TO ADAPT TO CHANGES IN THIER ENVIRONMENT.”

“EXTERNAL,” I add. “Unable to adapt to changes in their EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT.”

In order to adapt to changes in your industry, you first have to understand what industry change is. Next you have to know what to look for. Then, when a change is recognized, you have to know whether or not it is important, and if so, only then should you make plans to act on it.  

Understanding Industry Change

Industry change is EXTERNAL. It originates from outside the organization rather than internally. Market demographics, technology, customers and competition are examples. These external factors, called ‘change drivers’, are less controllable, harder to forecast and can be more disruptive than changes that originate internally in an organization. Just think about the dramatic effects that the Coronavirus has had on our economy and entire way of life in 2020!  

Industry change is also RELATIVE. All organizations have several fundamental relationships. In fact, a business organization is defined by relationships with its customers, employees, suppliers, investors, lenders, government regulators, communities in which they operate and other stakeholders. And while firms may not have relationships with direct competitors, they are perceived relative to competitors and substitutes by customers and others.

As industry stakeholders respond to external changes, these relationships change, and it is the changes in these relationships, within the context of the external change drivers, that are important in understanding adaptive change.

  • The dinosaurs lived in an environment that allowed them to flourish until, of course, climate change would eventually wipe them out.

Monitoring Industry Changes

Start at the end. The first step is to know what to look for. It is well known that data volumes are exploding. In 2016, it was written that more data had been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race. [1] Luckily, only a small fraction of that data would ever be relevant to your organization.

By starting at the end, and determining what the data would be used for, it is possible to focus your efforts. For example, when considering how to not become extinct, the data that would represent a threat to our existence is most important. Best practice organizations start by defining a set of ‘key topics’ based on the assumptions in their current strategic plan or potential opportunities and threats, and are used to guide their change monitoring activity.

  • In 2000, when Reed Hastings, the founder of a fledgling company called Netflix, flew to Dallas to propose a partnership to Blockbuster CEO John Antioco and his team, Hastings got laughed out of the room. While Blockbuster had paid attention to its retail competitors, it did not recognize a business model that relied on sending DVDs through the mail as a threat. [2]

‘Movie’ versus ‘snapshot’. Change, of course, happens over time. Changes in the external forces and stakeholder relationships can only be recognized using a longitudinal approach, which compares data points in time. Most organizations today find themselves in a world where the pace of change is fast and accelerating. Best practice companies do constant surveillance and continuous updating by an individual, group or outside partner with this responsibility. The U.S. military may have the world’s best capabilities for this, as designated intelligence officers constantly gather intel from the front lines.  

  • The demise of pay phones was a predictable result of the adoption of cell phones. It was easy to see the adoption curve and predict when the large carriers would exit. Sprint left the business in 2006. AT&T exited two years later, and Verizon got out in 2011. [3]

So What? Just because change is occurring and relevant to an opportunity or threat, doesn’t mean it is important. To understand if the change is significant, it is necessary to apply relevancy filters such as: Is the data real or is it only an outlier? Is it outside of expectations? What is the size of the change? What market segments are being impacted? What are the possible consequences and implications of the change?  This is where human analysts with knowledge of your business, aided by text analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) tools, apply their experience and raise red flags where appropriate. These red flags are called out in the regular updates and summary reports routinely circulated to managers and executive teams.

  • In BlackBerry’s downfall, managers didn’t take seriously the idea that the market was changing. BlackBerry’s leadership was based on enterprise and government markets, and never took the consumer market, and Apple’s iPhone, as a serious threat to its business. At least not until it was too late.

“BlackBerry proves that Andrew Grove really did have it right when he said, ‘only the paranoid survive.’ That’s probably the best lesson CEOs can take away from BlackBerry’s fall.”

— Craig Hanson, General Partner, Next World Capital [4]

What Now? Once recognized as important and relevant, executives can begin making plans for appropriate response. The first step in the response planning is a ‘deep dive’ analysis that is focused on the specific opportunity or threat to check assumptions, manage risks and develop a set of strategic options. Those options can further be played out in scenarios or war gaming exercises.

Acting on Intelligence

Ultimately, adaptive change means that executives must make investments and allocate resources to address the opportunity or threat. These are the ‘bets’ that executives make and are at the core of business strategy. Developing and utilizing a systematic process for gathering industry, market and competitive intelligence enables executive teams to make those bets swiftly, efficiently and confidently.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2015/09/30/big-data-20-mind-boggling-facts-everyone-must-read/#32a007d817b1

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2014/09/05/a-look-back-at-why-blockbuster-really-failed-and-why-it-didnt-have-to/#222daa451d64

[3] https://money.cnn.com/2018/03/19/news/companies/pay-phones/index.html

[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomtaulli/2013/09/23/lessons-from-the-fall-of-blackberry/#3674057d544d