This article discusses how to understand your competitors plans to compete with you in the future and offering basic survival tools.
How committed are your competitors in achieving their declared strategic objectives? How may they conflict with yours?
Understand your competitors plans
Do their financial performance and activities match their declared mission? If not, why not? How does this conflict, if at all, with your own company’s ambitions. How do you differentiate yourself? Our clients are always surprised by the answers we find for them but will you still be on the battlefield?
Long term viability of your industry
What is the long term viability of your industry? Also, what trends could change the rules of the game? What developments could allow a rival to change the rules of the game?
- Who are the current industry leaders?
- And what are they doing and why?
- What are the key success factors in your industry?
- What is the reward (and cost) of being a winner/loser within your industry
- And in five years from now, what will the industry winners look and act?
- Finally, will you still be on the battlefield?
Before Covid got in the way and shook a few things up the average time within S&P 500 tenure was decreasing, like this:
- 1964 – 33 years
- 2016 – 24 years
- 2027 – predicted to be closer to 12 years
Significant technological change
The speed of change is increasing. Driven by significant technological, social and economic and change. It’s estimated 50% of the current S&P 500 companies will be off the list over the next ten years. A key reason for this churn is the failure to adapt. A lack of understanding that future threats will not come from existing competitors. It is rare for one of your traditional competitors to take you down. And this situation is going to get even more infrequent. For the simple reason given the rapid change, brand new competitors will come along. Ready to take business away from you, or indeed remove the need for your market. So, where are these competitors now? The founders are just starting university, or they are working on it in their one bed flat in Singapore.
Beware of denial
Now, this future situation will not kill your company. But the inability to perceive change, the denial it could happen, and the lack of foresight could do. Without a will to perceive the change, you will fail to understand how to evolve and respond. It’s not inevitable, but how you react will define you. Define if you are going to succeed or fail.
The same can be said in our industry. Gone are the days that Competitive Intelligence consultants just sat in dusty libraries. Studying trade magazines, newspapers and scientific publications.
There is a drive towards Machine Learning and AI within our industry. And there are many excellent tools out there. But, they all still need human interaction, analysis and intuition. We know this will not be forever, and these platforms are getting better and better. And we are still a long way off from AI taking over everything. We are open-minded enough to realise this may not be the case forever.
They will not wholly replace humans. Especially if data platforms insist we should rely on big data as the answer to all our problems. Data lives in the past is an excellent tool to predict the future, but it’s not Intelligence or Insight.
IBM 5 years ago revealed that they believed full useful human intuition within AI was 250 years away. Fast forward to today, and it’s likely with the speed of progress it’s going to be much quicker than that.
Which future competitors are going to get involved?
Your industries boundaries are changing now. Your future competitors are planning how to take your industry apart. Can you work out what these companies need to do and how they are going to tackle you?
What innovations are they working on to gain a competitive advantage?
You need to be in a position to understand how you are going keep on the high ground. Increase sustained fire to protect your position. Offer a counter-attack to capture more ground. And maintain a superior position in your current and new future markets.
But what can we do now?
War gaming is an excellent tool to gain insight into how competitors could act in the future. The technique requires you to test out different strategic moves. These moves based on potential competitor actions. War gaming asks the “If then” questions. So enabling you to see and design preemptive strikes. Strikes to respond to the plausible threats and hidden opportunities you find.
Before the war gaming exercise, it’s important to conduct in-depth Competitive Intelligence exercises. This analysis is done to gain a good understanding of how the market could look and who could be involved. And not just Competitor Analysis on your current competitors. Because it’s likely, they will be in the same situation as you need to widen your net.
Look at the drivers of change. And how your industry’s boundaries may change by using Trend Analysis. Scenario planning analyses how drivers of change could interact with business uncertainty. Scenario planning answers the “What if” questions.
With the awareness of possible situations. The use of tools and techniques will allow you to practice what could happen to very fine detail. So you’ve got the capability and intent to develop early warning systems to these shifts.
Be aware, look and act
The signals, signs and patterns are out there at the moment. Visible to help you increase protection against future competitors, innovation and industry change. You need to be aware, look and act. It’s recommended that you use external insight, ensuring you aren’t blinded by experience and politics. This article discussed how to understand your competitors plans to compete with you in the future. And offered some basic tools to support your survival. More idea can be found in this article too Future Competitive Strategy identification.