A Global Intelligence Alliance survey of market intelligence professionals spread across 880 companies revealed that MI teams have seen budget cuts equivalent to 1 resource almost every year since 2011. MI teams are fighting an endless battle to keep MI reports ‘intelligent,’ to defend their ‘raison d’être’ within organizations in an increasingly cost sensitive environment.
If you are remotely related to market intelligence or competitive intelligence (MI/CI), I am sure you would have read plenty of literature around the social media, BI/visualization, and data analytics trends. In this blog, I want to talk about how each of these trends could make an incremental yet lasting impact on every aspect of MI/CI activities – social media -> information gathering, data analytics -> analysis, and BI/visualization -> delivery.
Network is Net worth
It’s not just about ‘social analytics’ or ‘social intelligence’. That is useful…no doubt! But that’s a discussion for another day…
I am talking about the oldest source of information – people!
Better insights at lower costs
Building and nurturing the human element in addition to traditional intelligence gives more fire power to the arsenal of a modern intelligence team.
Professionals are getting more connected through LinkedIn, Twitter, and inside the organization through social collaboration tools (IBM Connections, Jive, SAP Jam). The increasing connectivity provides virtually unlimited opportunities to network. More importantly, it provides quality insights, without the high investments in the traditional primary research channels. It strengthens the analysis process as you can reach out to broad range of experts to get varied views on a research hypothesis.
Professional network should be nurtured
Every MI/CI professional should invest in professional relationships with those who can support their research objectives.
LinkedIn and Twitter give opportunities to connect with contacts you normally would not have access to. Social media channels can also help you to find new contacts, like employees/alumni from competitors/business partners, subject matter experts in a particular industry, or potential customers. Following up on acquaintances developed in industry association meetings and trade shows is also an effective way that has helped me create broader online professional network.
Like all human relationships, professional network thrives on reciprocity. As a market intelligence professional, knowledge is your currency. Your wealth grows as you share more.
Insights to Foresight with Analytics
I guess data analytics as a general concept has been beaten to death in number of online forums! But being an MI/CI professional I can’t help but ask – ‘What’s in it for me?’. Here are a few ways I have seen analytics making inroads in the MI/CI practice over the years…
Research + Analytics – The winning chemistry
The real power of MI/CI can be unleashed when a market intelligence organization blends qualitative analysis with analytics’ rigor.
The chemistry is what will make an MI organization truly ‘Intelligent’ – it will prevent MI/CI analysts hitting a wall due to lack of insights beyond the traditional secondary and primary sources. Here’s an example of how use of a forecasting analytics on secondary market data can add significant value to an exploratory research exercise:
The forecasting tool uses an optimization model that leverages multiple market drivers impacting the adjacent market. The model identifies weightage/importance of each of the driver in context of the adjacent market and uses the weights to forecast market size.
Use of one or more such analytical techniques within a broader MI/CI exercise could significantly increase the impact of the analysis.
Long live MI!…with dashboards
Use of visualization tools and dashboards is not new to MI/CI. However, most MI/CI organizations have traditionally seen dashboards as merely a cost-saving and efficiency tool to automate MI/CI efforts. Dashboards cannot replace deep business insights derived through a rigorous research engagement. However, if used effectively, they can increase the reach of MI/CI reports and make them more agile.
Dashboards extend the life of an MI/CI report
Dashboards can be updated periodically, thus preventing the MI/CI report dying a natural death as the analysis becomes outdated.
Here’s a simplified example:
A market insights research identifies the market size and potential customer segments. The research aids the sales team to create a robust sales forecast and planning. Dashboards facilitate periodic review of the actual sales performance and resource utilization. Quarterly review of performance data also helps validating the trends and opportunity forecast from the MI/CI research and make adjustments to the forecast model if required.
‘My dashboard….my insights!’
Combining an MI/CI report with visualization enables MI analysts to provide targeted analysis and insights to a broad range of audience.
Users will increasingly have preferences to receive only a specific view of the information or analysis they consider to be most relevant for their job role. This ‘Only What I Want’ mentality will continue to challenge to MI professionals.
MI/CI research is typically created for a specific audience. Well-structured dashboards can help different executives within an organizations create views at the desired granularity. Thus, dashboards help the analysis become relevant for a broader range of executives. For instance, in the example above, the sales forecast and sales plan can be viewed at different granularity – at an overall global level by the CEO, by country/states by a regional sales head, at a product segment level by a country head/sales executives. Thus, dashboard can help maintain ‘one truth’ across the organization.
Every market intelligence team has its own purpose and modus operandi. However, one rule applies to all – “Evolve or perish”. It is time MI/CI practitioners embrace newer techniques of research and analysis to make their deliverables more insightful, or face the peril of becoming a ‘non-essential commodity’ for organizations. This blog is just a glimpse of what is possible with social media, analytics, and visualization. I will explore each of these areas in more detail in my next few blogs.
Please share your experiences about other such ‘non-traditional’ approaches that have made MI/CI deliverables more impactful!
This blog is written by Shulin Todkar, Project Manager at BRIDGEi2i
About BRIDGEi2i: BRIDGEi2i provides Business Analytics Solutions to enterprises globally, enabling them to achieve accelerated business impact harnessing the power of data. Our analytics services and technology solutions enable business managers to consume more meaningful information from big data, generate actionable insights from complex business problems and make data driven decisions across pan-enterprise processes to create sustainable business impact. To know more visit www.bridgei2i.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of BRIDGEi2i.