One of the changes we’ve observed since 2020 and the emergence of the COVID pandemic has been an increase in demand from business organizations for ways to systematically monitor and act on changes in their external environment (i.e. markets, competition and change drivers).
While the onslaught of the pandemic was, of course, an extreme disruptor, it seems that it has helped organizations realize that many aspects of their world are outside of their control. For example, customer and competitor behavior can be both un-knowable and un-controllable. Instead, successful organizations manage this risk category by systematically monitoring important changes, evaluating leading indicators, and adjusting their strategies as necessary.
Our ‘Strategic Intelligence Program’ solution has three primary elements: 1) monitoring of open sources such as industry press, websites, business filings, etc. 2) a shared, cloud-based repository where market and industry ‘observations’ are compiled, organized and analyzed, and 3) a variety of reporting options such as alerts and summaries to disseminate objective insight.
Conceptually, the business organizations we work with apply this capability in a similar way. Starting with how they want to define their market landscape, they watch for data points that represent indicators of potential change that would impact their business and then prioritize those for deeper investigation leading to potential strategic shifts. However, while the basic concept is the same, we see it applied in many different and creative ways to get the most out of their programs.
Here’s just a peek at some of that range of application:
- Competitor tracking. Some companies focus very narrowly on a small set of competitors with an interest in a deep understanding of their competing businesses. They might be interested in specific operations or product details, or sales and marketing capabilities, or key personnel and have a very specific plan for how they will act on the information.
- General competitor and industry tracking. This application involves watching broadly across the entire industry for competitive and change drivers that may impact the business. Because the scope is so broad, usually these companies prioritize the competition using different levels (e.g. A, B and C competitors) and identify other priorities as ‘key topics’ to best allocate time and resources.
- Defensive intelligence to maintain a leadership position. Some companies are already the market leader but face new competition from market entrants. They wish to maintain that leadership position and use the intelligence findings to develop advertising campaigns or new product enhancements that will disrupt the competition and erect mobility barriers to maintain their lead.
- Growth related intelligence to enable partnerships or M&A. These companies have chosen partnerships or mergers and acquisitions as their primary growth vehicles and apply their intelligence resources toward scouting for acquisition targets, keeping an eye on similar activity by their competitors and industry change opportunities that open new opportunities.
- Innovation. These businesses are in industries where growth is achieved through innovation related to products, customer experience, services and even business models. In the case of one of our clients, changes in information technology are enabling an entirely new set of competitors with different business and operating models to gain a foothold. We closely watch both the legacy space and the emerging competition to help the company identify and prioritize innovation opportunities that will maintain its market leading position. Another client is 3+ years out from product launch. We help them understand where the future industry, technologies and markets will be as they develop out the product.
- Growth though sales support. Some programs are focused on supporting their B-to-B sales teams. They can be focused on competitors, on customers and markets or on both.
- Competitive pricing intelligence. In this industry, consumer pricing and terms change constantly. We assist this company to systematically capture those changes in price so that they can arm their sales force and target channel intermediaries to gain new business.
- COVID intelligence. This company in the health services industry is highly impacted by the COVID pandemic. It uses our intelligence to understand the effects of the pandemic on its customer base, making marketing and operations decisions based on it.
- New market development. This U.S. based company was looking at international markets as its primary arena for growth. Looking broadly at selected Asian and European markets, our intelligence enabled them to identify underserved segments and market entry points.
- Account management intelligence. This company offers its services to large and mid-sized businesses in selected industries and maintains ongoing relationships with them. In this case, our intelligence is used by account managers to stay abreast of strategic changes in their clients to provide communication and outreach opportunities and to identify sales opportunities and deepen sales relationships.
- Ad Tracking. This large banking company wants to understand the positioning messages of its competition when advertising to business customers. We compile banner, video and other ad types from various sources, and then use AI and text analytics to tell the story for the client’s marketing and advertising teams.
- Advisory board intelligence. Another company maintains several advisory boards consisting of industry thought leaders and entrepreneurs. Our intelligence efforts here provide insight into the activities of these leaders to help our client prepare for board meetings and maintain communications.
- Alumni intelligence. This higher education company asks us to track a set of high-net worth individuals, and uses the insights to deepen relationships for fund raising purposes.
Over the 20 years that we’ve been doing it, market and competitive intelligence has evolved from a little-known and little-understood back-office secret into a nuts-and-bolts discipline that helps form the foundation of every agile and successful business from small to large. These examples illustrate how firms are becoming more mature in their application of market intelligence capabilities by focusing them in ways that directly impact their business model and provide maximum ROI.
Line of Sight Group can help you build an intelligence program unique to your business needs. Contact us for more information!