How does Competitive Intelligence Early Warning reduce unpleasant surprises?
This article asks how does Competitive Intelligence Early Warning reduce unpleasant surprises? We find that traditional early warning and scenario analytical techniques tend to be too strategic. Created to identify a new competitor, technologies and relegation. Focussed on successfully isolating major long term shifts.
A difficultly emerges when they are applied tactically. Dealing with issues such as pricing, tackling new promotion campaigns and product launches.
You need to know about the positive and negative situations that can affect your company. So be in a position to do something about it to avoid damaging your ability to compete. Or being left behind when you could have been first to market. STEEP analysis and other similar models can deal with long term strategic issues. But the following will assist you in forming an excellent Early Warning Process.
Step 1 – Player identification
- Map out your competitive environment.
- Whom do you want to keep an eye on?
- Who are the likely future competitors?
- Prioritise the importance of these competitors.
- Which of your competitors use and interact with your suppliers?
Step 2 – Define and prioritise the situation.
Once you have isolated the players, set the actual situations you wish to monitor. As discussed, pricing, product launches, tackling aggressive new promotional campaigns are everyday situations. But budget depending, you have to determine which situations you can monitor. Take each competitor in turn. Assess their impact on your company and your current/future performance. The more significant the impact, the higher the priority to monitor.
Step 3 – Isolate major indicators.
After you have isolate whats happening you need to determine the indicators. The one’s that inform you of any changes to the situation. Each competitor or supplier will have similar or wildly different indicators for situations. Even if they are involved with the same product. For instance, a competitor may use a distributor. A one which is slower and more expensive than yours. Discussions with your competitor and supplier would be an indicator for you. One to keep an eye on and if required do something about it.
Step 4 – Monitor
Delegate throughout the organisation. To departments who are best placed to quickly find the information. Any requests for information about indicators must be specific and clearly defined. Think about subcontracting the collection efforts of a third party, such as ourselves. All sources to be regularly updated and revised in terms of quality of information. Enter the information into a single source using CI software or a simple spreadsheet.
Step 5 – Analysis
It is usual for observation to produce a limited amount of usable information. Analysis is the process that turns this information into usable Intelligence. Analytical techniques such as “Competing Hypothesis” (Heur 1999). Scenario Analysis or the introduction of a War Gaming exercise is recommended.
Step 6 – Decide and take action.
The early warning analysis of isolated Intelligence will produce valid indicators. Once these monitored indicators have you’ll be in a position to predict a rival’s next move. For each indicator, define several actions open to you. Like this. If competitor X purchases X product, let us know straight away. You will have predefined associated actions (no more than 4) to take place.
One of the actions is, of course, to do nothing. Your options for actions should be decided by considering the following process:
- A description of the situation.
- The likely impact of that situation could have on your company.
- Recommended actions by your management team.
- The strengths and weaknesses of your team recommended actions and the other alternatives.
- Most importantly, the possible response from your competitors
Step 7 – System review
Once you have completed the process and realise its all about:
- Avoiding surprises
- creating more certainty
- Taking effective decisions
- Taking action
- Determine what they did well and what they could have done better.
Finally –How does Competitive Intelligence Early Warning reduce unpleasant surprises?
This article asked how does Competitive Intelligence Early Warning reduce unpleasant surprises? We offered seven steps to help you strategically. And just as important tactically.
Art by Adrien Brunat