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Are you the doctor? (Or just doing the diagnoses)

As intelligence professionals we are great in doing research, collecting data and doing all sorts of analysis. From basic statistics all the way up to sophisticated multivariate analysis. Great! We are even capable to disseminate the findings in a decent format.

And then? Most of the time it stops.

Stakeholders see your findings, they may study it, but the question is: what will they do with it? Do they understand the implications and impact of the findings.

Sometimes they don’t understand at all what the analysis tells, sometimes they have a vague idea what this data can do for them. Seldom they completely know what to do.

I am surprised that so often I got stakeholders looking at me with big question-marks in their eyes, saying: “Great report, but what would you recommend I do now?”

The famous: “Now what?” question comes to the table. What would be your answer, Mr. Intelligence?

“Well, that is up to you, I did the analysis, here are the results, so, please use it in the way you want it.

Why are we saying that? Because we presume that the stakeholder, a person in strategy, business development, sales management, should know what to do with the report.

I am sorry to say that you, as an intelligence professional, should not take that for granted.

This is to a certain extent because of the way these reports are written.  They are not clear and crisp enough, sometimes acumen are used that the stakeholder is not familiar with (TAM, SOW, etc).  And so, difficult to understand. Bur also the analysis does not include (by default) what actions stakeholders should or could take. Although we are convinced that the stakeholder is a professional that knows how to run his own business well.

I am a professional of my own body. Yes, I am! I know what to do to stay healthy. I do sports, make sure I have a right work-life balance (try to), take care of my food, no smoking and so on.

However, suddenly I don’t feel well, I go to the doctor and she recommends to have my blood tested.

The doctor takes a sample of my blood, which goes to the laboratories. There, great professionals analyse my blood and even better, they make a big report with all their findings. On sugar, cholesterol, hemoglobin and so on.

What do you think my question, as patient, would be when I see the report on my blood condition?

HDL:                                  85 mg/dL

LDL:                                 140 mg/dL

Triglyderides:                    1,6 mmo/L

Total serum iron:              75 µg/dL

And so on.

My question is: “So what”?

But even when it is more or less translated into more normal language like: your cholesterol is too high, your iron is low and your sugar level is high, I still will ask the question: “Now what”?

Because, although I try to keep my body in the best possible shape. I don’t know how to interpret the results of this blood test.

Therefore I need a doctor to explain what the results mean and what I can do to improve the condition of my body: e.g. less fat, no sugar, more green vegetables, more sports, stop smoking, etc. (you name it)

This is exactly the same with our stakeholders. We, as intelligence professionals,  we do the diagnoses, great analysis, make big reports (in power point) and give that to the stakeholder. It comes across as if we say: “Here are the findings and good luck!”

The stakeholder will look at the report, look back to you and say: “Now what”?

So, I believe that an intelligence professional should be both the analyst and the doctor, explaining what the findings mean and what could be done to improve the situation. Recommendation, just like your generalist will do to you.

In my experience, as director market and business intelligence, I have seen the appreciation from many stakeholders if you play the doctor and add recommendations on top of the explanation of your findings.

But, in order to do that, I think intelligence people need to become a consultant, a trusted advisor, just like your doctor.

Would you agree? Or do you have a different opinion?

Please let me know.

Good luck with your intelligence

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Joost Drieman is owner of Marix International NV, a consultancy company specialized in Intelligence and Strategy. Joost had been director Market and Business Intelligence at Cisco. Before Cisco Joost had senior management positions at several high tech companies in Europe and the USA. He also did consultancy work for the EC, DG Infso.  In total over 25 years international experience in strategy, business development, intelligence and management.

He is visiting lecturer at some business schools in Europe and the USA to teach market intelligence. Joost regularly speaks at conferences (SCIP, GIA, ICI, etc). He is a dynamic, charismatic presenter, interacts with the audience and has the ability to explain difficult topics in an easy understandable way, with a touch of humor. Together with the GIA, Joost developed several training workshops for Intelligence professionals, including Internal Consultative Skills, Internal Marketing, Megatrends, Presentation Skills, and more.

www.marix.be

Joost.drieman@marix.be

 

Safeguarding your Online Reputation

The carefully crafted image that famous brands spend years developing is painstakingly maintained through a combination of PR, marketing and sleek advertising. But such are the vagaries of public opinion, it can all be undone in the time it takes to publish a tweet. The important lesson for businesses to learn is that reputation is not something that can be manufactured and set in stone. It has to be sustained over time through ongoing engagement and interaction with customers. As Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

 

Of course, learning to do things differently is a challenge for companies who are trying to grapple with the unprecedented growth of social media. A recent report from Forrester showed that 86% of online US adults and 79% of European online adults engage with social media. It’s further estimated that over a billion tweets were posted every 5 days on Twitter in 2011. The rules of engagement have shifted permanently and companies must adapt or die. It’s no longer enough to sit back and rely on traditional media to act as a filter for news announcements. Traditional media is no longer in control of setting the agenda for public discourse and it is being displaced by a growing chorus of informed and engaged consumers. This non-linear media landscape has many benefits for companies, in terms of facilitating direct access to consumers, but the advantages (if not managed correctly) also carry an associated risk of reputational damage. It’s important for companies to mitigate this risk by adopting a social media engagement strategy which incorporates a three-pronged approach: anticipate potential threats, diffuse negative sentiment and amplify positive sentiment. Reputation is the most important intangible asset that a business has, but it also has a real subsequent impact on share price and profits. No company can afford to turn a blind eye to its reputation.

 

It’s difficult to anticipate all potential reputational threats and sometimes a crisis emerges out of nowhere and unleashes severe damage. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks you will be aware of the internet furore which almost cost Papa John’s its reputation as one of America’s favourite pizza chains. Papa John’s is the third largest pizza restaurant in the United States and has a presence in at least 30 other countries. On its website the restaurant chain proudly boasts about its ‘legendary customer service’. However, in just a few short minutes its entire reputation was compromised by the actions of one single employee. On January 7th a Papa John’s employee identified a customer as ‘lady chinky eyes’ on a sales receipt. After examining her receipt, the customer, Minhee Cho, posted an image of it on Twitter with the following tweet ‘“Hey @ PapaJohns just FYI my name isn’t ‘lady chinky eyes.” The image quickly went viral. Three hours after posting the offensive receipt on Twitter, the Huffington post blogged about the incident in an article headlined: ‘Lady Chinky Eyes’: Papa John’s Store Calls Woman Racial Slur In Receipt’. It took a further three hours for Papa John’s to respond to the incident and offer an apology. The spokesperson eventually reassured the public that the employee in question was being fired.

 

This incident operates as a stark reminder to businesses that they need to be more reactive when their reputation is under threat. The considerable delay in responding to the issue meant that a storm of protest was allowed to develop. Once Papa John’s responded to the incident in a clear, unequivocal statement, the online backlash dissipated. It is vital that companies engage at the earliest stage to counter negative commentary and put forward a statement outlining what steps the company has taken to address the issue. By failing to act swiftly companies risk escalating the problem and inflicting long term reputational damage. .

For information about Digimind’s Social Media Engagement Solution go to www.digimind.com

The Market Intelligence “taxi driver syndrome”.

How often does the market and competitive intelligence team get requests without any further background information why the stakeholder needs that particular information?

For instance: How many PC’s are there in Austria?

If you than ask: “why do you want to know this?” the response might very well be: “Just give me the data. I need it. Rather today than tomorrow”. (He thinks: it is not your business)

You feel down to a low level data provider, not being able to add any extra value.

Is that OK or not?

This is what I call in Competitive Intelligence “the taxi driver syndrome”.

“Can you please take me to Parklane, sir”.

What if the taxi driver turns around to you and asks: “Why do you want to go there?”

You are very likely to answer: “Thank you for your question, but that is not relevant. (or: that is not your business) Please take me there. Thank you.

The difference is that the driver does a one-off job for you and you don’t need any extra help. You know why you are going there.

However it would be different in the following situation.

You are on a business trip in a major city and there is nothing planned for this evening. So, you are looking for some entertainment. You may ask the driver to take you to Mainstreet.

Again, he will ask you: Why do you wanna go there?

This time you are open for his consultancy service.

“Thank you for asking, I am looking for some entertainment”.

The taxi driver can play an advisory role. “Are you looking for a show, you would like a concert, do you want to go to a restaurant, a nightclub, a sports event?”

And even one level deeper. Say, you want to go to a restaurant.

The taxi driver may suggest a nice Italian restaurant, a special Greek restaurant, an outstanding Sushi bar, a spicy Indian, a gastronomic French restaurant or just a delicious hamburger.

If the driver knows his city he can do an excellent job on top of driving quickly and safely.

And that will lead to more business for him, most probably with the same customer.

Can you pick me up after dinner and take me to a nice launch bar? He will do and because of his expertise he will surprise you.

That is what we want as Intelligence Professionals and that is what we have to do.

The good news is that it is all possible. Market Intelligence professionals should play a consultancy role and being seen as the trusted advisor to the internal stakeholders of a company.

It is much easier for Intelligence Professionals to build up that relationship with the stakeholders. It is not an one-off deal like a taxi-ride.

It comes down to asking the right questions and making the right suggestions.

Back to the question: How many PC’s are there in Austria?

Just answering may give the wrong information to the stakeholder. Which leads to disappointments and turning you into a person that is seen as nonprofessional. 

It would be easier if the stakeholder would explain the reason for the question. But this will only happen if there is a trusted relationship between the stakeholder and the Intelligence professional.

If that is not the case, it needs to be developed and that is primarily the task of Intelligence professional. As a real consultant to your stakeholder, you must find the need behind the need.

How many PC’s are there in Austria?

Why do you want to know this?

Just give me the data. I need it.

How to cope with this? There are several ways. Here are some…

First of all: Don’t start arguing. You can show already that you are a professional. You most probably have a good idea what the business reason is and you can anticipate on this. On the other hand you also know that there are many different types of PC’s.

So, just giving an answer to his question is not the right response. (There are 20 million PC in Austria.)

Why not doing the following?

”sure I can help you on this. If it is only the grand total number of PC’s we have it available in our database. Depending on what you want to do with the data, we can split the number up in several different groups.

- is it both the stand alone PC’s and the networked PC’s?

- Do you want the PC’s for professional business usages only or also the home PC’s.

- Do you want the number including all game PC’s?

- Should tablets be included?

- Should it be sorted by region or by industry, maybe by size-band?

- is it important for you to have the number of PC’s in rural area’s or only in the bigger cities?

- Would it be important for you combine the number of PC’s with any other data in order to do further correlation analysis and look at where we can optimize the business?

And we can even do more in terms of data collection and analysis to help you being even more successful than you are today.”

Also these questions (and there many, many more you can ask) will show that you understand intelligence and that you are here to support and add value.

The chance that your stakeholder will repeat that the reason for his question is not your business, is exceptionally low.

There are two main reactions to this: Great give me all you suggest. What do you reply? The following: if you want it all, it will take me about 4 to 6 weeks. Most often the stakeholder can not wait, and guess what,,… the conversation about what and why is relevant starts.

Or, better, the questions you have asked the stakeholder will trigger him.

So, most probably he will give you more background information. But even if he says: thank you for these questions, please leave out all household and game PC’s, I am basically only interested in the networked business PC’s, you have made big progress. The information that you will provide is much more to the point and as a consequence the stakeholder will use it for his business. He will see that it is relevant and will come back to you next time. With more specific questions and most probably he will give you (a little bit) background information.

Try this and see how this works. If you are still not able to open the conversation to understand the need behind the need, than contact me. There are more ways to overcome this problem. I am also interested in learning what you do with this problem!

Good luck with your intelligence

 

 ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Joost Drieman is owner of Marix International NV, a consultancy company specialized in Intelligence and Strategy. Joost had been director Market and Business Intelligence at Cisco. Before Cisco Joost had senior management positions at several high tech companies in Europe and the USA. He also did consultancy work for the EC, DG Infso.  In total over 25 years international experience in strategy, business development, intelligence and management.

He is visiting lecturer at some the business schools in Europe and the USA to teach market intelligence. Joost regularly speaks at conferences (SCIP, GIA, ICI, etc). He is a dynamic, charismatic presenter, interacts with the audience and has the ability to explain difficult topics in an easy understandable way, with a touch of humor. Together with the GIA, Joost developed several training workshops for Intelligence professionals, including Internal Consultative Skills, Internal Marketing, Megatrends, Presentation Skills, and more.

www.marix.be

Joost.drieman@marix.be