Market Intelligence for theStrategy & Planning Process
Developing a Market Intelligence capability that provides valuable input to organizational strategy and planning processes is of major importance in today’s turbulent business environments.
Three different sub-processes are presented that should interact in order to provide this capability: the Future Watch process, the Planning Process and the Early Warning and Opportunity system, all of which can be supported through systematic Market Intelligence.
A number of Market Intelligence products are presented as an output of the Market Intelligence process. These products represent a combination of a historic, present and future oriented outlook to an organizations’ business environment. A comprehensive approach is therefore necessary in order to establish a true Strategic Intelligence capability.
Future orientated methods like PESTEL analysis, Trend Analysis and Scenario Analysis may be combined with more focused business landscape reviews such as War Games and Profiles in order to compose an effective strategy. The most advanced companies have a process for this that has been institutionalized.
What even many of the most advanced corporations’ lack however, is a process for continuous tracking of strategic issues. This White Paper advocates that a strategic Early Warning / Opportunity system should be integrated with the above mentioned strategic analysis methods in order to monitor, anticipate and affect strategic issues.
Is it necessary to conduct all of the described Future Watch related activities? This depends on the type of industry in which a corporation is operating i.e. what level of uncertainty there exists in the industry. If it is stable and rather easy to predict, perhaps all of the above methods aren’t required. But even stable industries will change sooner or later and by utilizing these methods, an organization stands a better chance of capitalizing on this change by being able to act proactively instead of just passively reacting to the change.
The results of this comprehensive analysis provide a detailed description and knowledge about important issues in the business environment. It is important to recognize that the full range of analysis methods will take a relatively long time to develop. Normally, the material is updated continuously throughout the year.
The Early Warning/Opportunity approach provides a systematic tracking of all strategic issues that are regarded as vitally important. Without this, many of the scenario analysis output will be left as shelf warmers or buried in databases already forgotten by the people who listened to them 8 months ago. Without EWOS, the risk is obvious that something bad must happen before someone orders the issue to be further looked at. Without EWOS, organizations lose time, foresight and the possibility to act proactively. The Issue Resolution component in turn is an important addition to the EWOS since it covers emerging issues that perhaps no one has thought of before.
With the output from the Future Watch, the Planning Process and the Early Warning/Opportunity system, organizations should have the proper ammunition to make intelligent decisions based on an updated and comprehensive picture of their business environment. All three parts are necessary in order to build properly grounded foresight. There are no short-cuts possible here. This foresight should then be utilized wisely for decision making and strategic communication purposes.
- Combine strategic analysis methods with a high degree of forward orientation for an insightful strategic planning process.
- Use the brain of the organization – involve people internally through the use of War Games and scenario and trend workshops. Also utilize the analysis of objective, unbiased 3rd parties in the strategic planning process at regular intervals in order to avoid corporate blindspots.
- Focus on the essential issues. Consider outsourcing parts of the information collection/analysis process and focus instead on high level analysis and on drawing conclusions. International companies need to ensure that they have a systematic and global business research and information collection capability.
- Organize a current awareness process in the organization to serve as a basis for all Market Intelligence activities. A centralized intelligence software tool for the entire organization with resourced content input will serve this purpose. The centralized tool should also be used to capture and share tacit market knowledge possessed by the organization.
- Ensure a process for continuous strategic reviews. The Market Intelligence process should challenge the existing strategy at all times, especially if events have occurred that are changing the uncertainty level in the industry or in the general business environment either on micro or macro level.
- It is also advisable to benchmark the company’s Strategic Intelligence capacity against other organizations on a regular basis to learn from global best practices.
The Global Intelligence Alliance (GIA) is a global network of business research and Competitive Intelligence (CI) consulting companies. The series of GIA White Papers is a means for the GIA and its clients and partner companies to share knowledge on key topics within the field of Competitive Intelligence. Please feel free to give us feedback on the White Papers by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org.