Comintelli Welcomes Deb Kemp to the TeamMarch 20, 2023
EXPERT GUEST BLOG – GABRIEL ANDERBJÖRK -INDUSTRY POINT OF VIEWApril 19, 2023
Ambassador Series, Part 4 — Written by Petteri Verronen, Comintelli Ambassador and Competitive Intelligence Advisor, and Kari Syrjä, Comintelli Global Competitive Intelligence Ambassador Network Chairman
- When a crisis hits many companies go into a cost-cutting mindset, while that is the golden moment for market and competitive intelligence professionals to shine.
- By taking a holistic look at your entire ecosystem with current sources and tools, you can soon identify which ones to decrease in order to avoid paying double or triple for the same information.
How does your company adjust its market monitoring efforts when the world changes or crisis strikes?
In times of major disruption or global crisis, organizations often prioritize cost-cutting and streamlining as a means of surviving turbulent market conditions. While such measures are usually necessary for keeping the business afloat, they can also result in the organization losing sight of its market environment, which in turn can have detrimental effects on its long-term viability.
Business Disruptions Occur Unannounced
The impacts of major disruptions have been particularly evident in recent times when our previous experiences and assumptions have not prepared us for the coming changes. The COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine are just two examples of such disruptions. While these two are first and foremost humanitarian crises, they have had a profound effect on businesses around the world.
One real-life example of the above was when Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022. The very next day, on Feb 25 the CEO of one of the largest European car manufacturers stated that they have created a task force to assess the possible consequences of the Ukraine crisis on the company.
Their global supplier network comprises of more than 40,000 suppliers, including critical electrical cable equipment produced in Ukraine. These parts were planned to be produced for the company’s most awaited Electric Vehicle (EV) car model. As a consequence of Russian invasion, they had to temporarily halt production of these models and are still facing continued challenges today.
Could this have been avoided? What would you have done as the Market and Competitive Intelligence analyst responsible in the company?
Streamlining Market Monitoring Efforts
To ensure their survival during these challenging times, many companies have been forced to heavily streamline their operations by cutting costs. Even though this may indeed be necessary, it is also important for businesses to maintain a strong focus on monitoring their markets and the overall competitive landscape.
The leading companies recognize that enhancing efficiency is critical, but not at the expense of losing the ability to act on critical market developments or seize emerging opportunities. For them, the ability to act on time is crucial to survive during turbulent times and thrive afterward. These organizations try to remain agile and flexible, as well as adjust their strategies and tactics as needed to stay ahead of the competition.
Failure to act on market developments promptly can lead companies to miss those exact opportunities that would help them to pull themselves out of the challenging situation.
Without adjusted market monitoring, continuous disruptions in the business landscape will further deepen their crisis. Thus, during challenging times, it will be especially important to maintain a strong focus on market monitoring, which should be an essential part of the market and competitive intelligence program.
Don’t Turn Off the Lights!
In order to thrive, companies can stay ahead of the curve by focusing on signals that matter. Executing emerging insights helps management to steer their operations towards success and opportunities waiting around the corner.
While more “calm” long-term strategic planning and foresight are as essential as ever, surviving turbulent times requires faster-paced actions, responsiveness, and agility. When a major disruption hits, companies may lose financing overnight, experience sudden but decisive supply chain problems, or even lose some of their key resources with no warning.
Corporate cost-cutting measures tend to typically lead to a reduction in personnel or other resources dedicated to market and competitive intelligence. Subsequently, all market monitoring activity suffers.
Compare it to driving a car in the dark. Just as turning off the headlights while driving during the night can be dangerous, similarly shutting down important information channels will have detrimental effects on any business. The key is to strike the right balance between streamlining operations while maintaining a clear focus for the intelligence operations mission to keep lights on your journey ahead.
It’s not “Business as Usual”
Market monitoring is a critical activity in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. It is risky to continue with a “business as usual” mindset when it is context and the situation has dramatic changes. Many fall into the trap of investing in the same “old” sources, methods, and tools without evaluating their usability and effectiveness.
To avoid this pitfall, assessing your current market monitoring setup can usually pay back fast the effort that is put into it. Nevertheless, if the company lacks brilliant basics in terms of a defined overall intelligence process, it can be difficult to quickly identify precise pain points in the middle of the crisis.
How to Execute Monitoring When the Crisis is Here
A good way to start working on the immediate challenges, under the threat of losing resources, is to run a quick brief needs analysis on the current market monitoring activity. While there are no magic bullets, good advice for improving efficiency is to start with a few most tangible items and proceed one step at a time, rather than trying to eat the elephant all at once. From a practical point of view, you may want to consider tackling the following topics first;
Reassessing the boundaries of your organizational ecosystem allows a more holistic approach to evaluating your business. It is critical to monitor the broader shifts rather than solely focus on, for example, the immediate competition and direct customers.
A robust market monitoring program incorporates the entire business ecosystem, including market trends, technological advancements, and regulatory changes, as well as the different stages of production, from raw materials to finished products and distribution channels. Very quickly, it will emerge what matters and what not. Whatever will be defined as irrelevant, must be dropped.
When analyzing the information source portfolio with an aim of more efficient consumption of resources, organizations may many times find that they are paying for multiple subscriptions to similar, if not the same, services. By consolidating these overlapping subscriptions, you save money and still receive the same benefits.
This analysis usually enables you to find out that some sources are not providing any actionable intelligence and can thus be removed. By eliminating these inefficiencies, you can maximize the value of your budget and resources faster.
An organization should be using the best-in-breed tools that allow decreasing the time spent searching for relevant information. Generally speaking, intelligence tools should allow aggregating and organizing both internal and external content into an easy-to-use repository that adds context and meaning to large volumes of originally unstructured information.
Visualization and options for the automated delivery of intelligence are important. By improving in-house collaboration and activating the end-users, the company can speed up sharing of relevant insights.
While the specific needs and preferences are always company-specific, it is recommended to look at industry reviews and familiarize oneself with the options available to understand if more modern and up-to-date solutions might be available. Benchmarking the current solution may even result in lower license costs, not to mention better capabilities to satisfy the requirements of the internal audience.
Evaluating your market monitoring program can help you identify gaps in your intelligence capabilities and focus. As the exercise involves taking a step back and examining the organization’s actual requirements, you may realize a need to re-think the boundaries of your organizational ecosystem altogether and identify factors that truly affect the existence of your organization.
Companies must monitor and adapt to changes taking place in their whole business environment while making choices about where to focus.
A key outcome of the needs analysis should be more efficient consumption of resources, which is crucial during times of decreased budgets. Re-evaluating your existing information sources and how intelligence is disseminated can already mean significant savings while enabling the utilization of existing funds more efficiently.
In addition, it always pays to take a careful look at the methods and tools at your disposal. Are those still optimal for your purpose? Can you capture and analyze the required data, let alone deliver the needed actionable intelligence to your internal network?
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that the success or failure of an intelligence program often depends on senior management support. It is crucial to ensure that company management trusts the intelligence team and understands the benefits of the insights provided. You need to earn support from the people who are in charge of your budget. By providing actionable, timely intelligence from their perspective, you demonstrate the value of your intelligence program from their point of view.