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Masters in Business Administration
COLLEGE OF MANAGEMENT AND ECONOMIC STUDIES (CMES)
Course Code: MBAV 404 Course Name: Competitive Intelligence © UNIVERSITY OF PETROLEUM & ENERGY STUDIES (For this print run only)
Table of Contents
Preface PART I Unit 1 Unit 2 Unit 3 PART II Unit 4 Unit 5 Unit 6 Unit 7 PART III Unit 8 Unit 9 Unit 10 Unit 11 Unit 12 Unit 13 Unit 14 Unit 15 Unit 16 PART IV Appendix A Appendix B Appendix C Appendix D Appendix E INTRODUCTION TO COMPETIVE INTELLIGENCE Introduction – The Secret Language How Companies Compete? Key Intelligence Topics SOURCES OF COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE Overview of the Sources of Intelligence Secondary Sources of Intelligences Intelligence on the Internet Primary Sources of Intelligences PRACTICE OF COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE Verifying Intelligence Art of Analysis Dissemination Counter Intelligence Deception and Misinformation Ethical and Legal Aspects of CI Competitive Intelligence across the Globe Building Strategic Intelligence Capabilities through Scenario Planning The New Age Competitive Intelligence CASES IN COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE Cases in CI Strategy Case Studies Case Study – Benchmarking through ETW Case Study – Daimler–Benz Aerospace Small Cases in CI 218 221 223 233 244 207 92 103 119 131 157 162 175 190 38 52 65 74 6 27 34 4
The World Trade Centre crash or the infamous `9/11’ atrocities taught us a stern lesson. The attack on Indian parliament, the London underground blast in July 2005, the massacre of 20th October 2005 in New Delhi and the devastation in the local trains in Mumbai in July 2006 did also teach us a lesson indeed. The agencies and the government departments assigned with the duties of security of the respective nations failed to detect and foil these atrocities. These acts of terror led us to a stunning realization. The key and the basic principles of intelligence were disregarded. Failing to piece together the apparently trivial bits of information and assembling an interpretable forecast resulted in loss of life and property hurt the national pride while exposing breaches in the seemingly infallible systems. Intelligence failure in the business environment do not bring about death or destruction, but heralds disaster in the shape of reputation, loss of market share and jobs, and psychological pains, or even worse at times, the death of a corporation. Collecting, analyzing and disseminating relevant information for staying ahead in business and competition is competitive intelligence (CI). In the modern world of data driven business environment, there are organizations banking on their information collection and processing capabilities and the ability to innovate and create to great effect. They analyse and interpret relevant information to catch the competition by surprise and keep them guessing. But these organizations, operating in an intensely competitive market environment, always run the risk of being overtaken by competitors, harnessing or possessing or developing intelligence that can be used to great advantage. This is competitive intelligence and many corporations in the western countries have been practicing this with telling effect and have set examples for others to follow. Competitive technical intelligence helps organizations to identify threats as well as opportunities emerging from technological change. If a company is blindsided by movements of its competitor the consequences in business could be quite disastrous. Therefore, competition monitoring in disguise is an important function of corporate competitive intelligence. The ability to
While CI in western corporate world is well documented. we will look at concepts. Two new case studies have been included. Indian industry is still in its infancy as far as CI practice is concerned. Subir Ranjan Das Professor University of Petroleum and Energy Studies 5 . which talk about the practice and convergence of competitive intelligence and knowledge management in the petroleum and the aviation industry sector. In this book.collect. The 2nd edition has been revised to incorporate the recent development in competitive intelligence practice in the industry. tools and techniques to understand CI operations and then analyze a few case studies from Indian industry segments to test the CI tools in this perspective. it is still in its nascent stage in most of the countries of Asia. analyze and foresee information on market and competition enables forecasting a competitor’s future plans. Competitive Intelligence is here to stay and will enable the corporations to harness its power to march ahead and stay ahead. This is now time for the Indian organizations to imbibe CI and step ahead of future.
The intelligence terminology has always been somewhat blurred. industry structure. intelligence is a completely legal ongoing process of developing a holistic picture of the operating environment including competitors. Market Intelligence. and new terms emerge as the intelligence discipline matures within the corporate setting. and Corporate Intelligence Strategic Intelligence. while ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 6 . While market research often focuses on fulfilling a specific information need or set of needs. Managing the future does not only mean being able to anticipate what will happen outside the company but also being able to shape the happenings through own actions.e. Competitive intelligence can be defined as knowledge and foreknowledge about the external operating environment. to proactively create one’s future. Competitive Intelligence is not market research or industrial espionage. competitors. interpretation and synthesis and utilizing it in the future-oriented decisionmaking. Competitor Intelligence and Technology Intelligence are often used interchangeably or as synonyms.PART I INTRODUCTION TO COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE Unit 1 The Secret Language of Competitive Intelligence Executive Summary Competitive intelligence can be defined as knowledge and foreknowledge about the external operating environment. Successful business strategy requires awareness about the company’s external environment. The intelligence process enables turning information into intelligence by processing it via analysis. ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ Competitive Intelligence. Information about these issues is the key target of competitive intelligence. An effective intelligence process continuously contributes to an organization’s knowledge base and leads to cumulative organizational learning. i. The ultimate goal of each intelligence process is to facilitate decision-making that leads to action. Customer Intelligence. The ultimate goal of each intelligence process is to facilitate decision-making that leads to action. customers and markets. Business Intelligence. including its customers. competitive forces etc.
tactical and operative. Using information efficiently is practicing intelligence. At the same time. It is the art that Leo Fuld calls the SWAG. with the race course as the backdrop. Eventually. knowledge with a degree of risk. but reasonable. but few act on that insight in a timely manner or with the gumption to place their own wallets on the table in a highstakes business poker game. and acting on this less than perfectly formed picture with adequate accuracy and speed. Stand back ten feet and you see a field of flowers or people strolling in The Strand. Step back a few feet away from the image and you feel as if you had actually sat by The Strand in the nineteenth century Kolkata on that windy and languid winter afternoon. it should be emphasized that the key goal of CI is to facilitate more effective strategic planning and. With this insight you've just gained competitive advantage. Competitive Intelligence (CI) is regarded as the broadest scope of intelligence activities covering the whole external operating environment of the company and targeting all levels of decision-making. Lots of people have insight. it’s one of the most important strategic tools that management possesses. The Art of Smart Intelligent Insight: Win or Loose the Game Business perspective is all about competitive perspective. the Scientific Wild-Ass Guess. It's all about seeing and analysing your competition and their plans clinically.whether or not it's insight about current competitive conditions or foresight about new market opportunities in the offing -. and acting in time on that knowledge. analyze and disseminate information that supports decision-making. This is like making decisions on an average (less than perfect) assessment of the scenario. strategic. Developing intelligence on competitors is like gaining the right perspective on a painting or even a work of art. as soon as possible. bathed in sunshine in its old glory. Intelligence means having some insight but also knowing that risk accompanies the resulting decision. Intelligence is about making critical decisions while balancing imperfect.e. Visit the headquarters of the ITC Ltd. The objective is not to create the exact scenario but to develop a perspective of an image bearing the closest resemblance to the reality. According to one of the views.is a product of a perceptive mind tuned to see the right perspective. actually. understanding its strategy. Intelligence is the art of applying imperfect knowledge. The perspective of a work of art like a painting changes every time one sees it. Intelligence -. The artists have created the Victorian ambience of what Kolkata was with thousands of dabs of coloured dots and brushstrokes. No matter how much information you gather. If you are the first to see the image clearly. As you step inside through the heavy teak doors.Add a dimension of specificity to the subject. at Virginia House. It is about seeing as much of the painting as possible. all intelligence terms refer to using systematic methods to collect. i. you have insight that is ahead of the market and of your competitors. 7 . Look at any of these paintings up close and you see only dots – numerous dots. British ladies taking a leisurely stroll in front of the river bank with parasols unfurled. the walls come alive with a series of paintings that take you to the late nineteenth century Kolkata. as such.
Kodak's boxes of film with their famous red and gold logo brand colours were nearly synonymous with photographic film. Agfa-Gaevart. while another acted on that same imperfect picture and gained competitive advantage. Fuji acted early on its imperfect knowledge. Fuji claimed that Kodak stated Fuji Photo Film is a member of the Mitsui keiretsu. Even into the 1980s. or Japanese trading circles. then 35 mm. Kodak. Effectively. This is the game of digital risk played and corporate warfare fought between Kodak and Fuji. Kodak had its strong and wide distribution. then colour film products. It is an example of how one company denied the changing reality and delayed taking action. supported by its own market arrogance and entrenched chemical culture. such as 3M. Fuji acknowledged that fact. When Fuji Photo Film first entered the U. From Kodak's viewpoint of the chess board of the competitive game. The amateur and professional chemical based photographic market had not changed in any substantial way for nearly one hundred years. that Kodak claimed left it out in the cold. In addition. then cartridge easy-to-load films. constantly tinkering and improving film quality and convenience of use. shelved any digital innovations for many years. it controlled most of the pieces. Both had the insight blended with capability. during the decade of the 1970s and then the decade of the '80s. The Game of Risk2 Both Kodak and Fuji knew that the other was approaching the digital photography battleground. This invariably hurt Kodak’s ability to compete fairly in Japan. not recognising as well as denying it was a threat. Kodak accused Fuji of having an unfair competitive advantage in the Japanese market because of Fuji's participation in the tightly bound “keiretsu”. managing and fighting over distribution channels. a vast bank-led financial group fused and bonded together by cross shareholdings and complex lending relationships. market (mostly at the expense of Kodak's other competitors. Likewise. such as the bestselling Instamatic cameras and film. It took the lead in roll film. Kodak owned that market. Fuji claimed that Kodak blocked (in an unfair manner) Fuji's ability to distribute using the lucrative mass-merchandise outlets in the United States. Nearly every retailer that dealt with photographic material sold Kodak. Kodak and Fuji spent many years. It kept refining first black and white. Kodak was a well positioned competitor with clear leadership status.uncertainty will always exist. The battle for digital photography is a perfect example of risk versus certainty. fed and supported its denial. the market leader. Fuji and Kodak had reached a stalemate.S. As proof. you need to make decisions. not over the product itself. market analysts did not comprehend Fuji to gain more than 15 percent of the U. Kodak's delay. and General Aniline and Film [GAF]). In one document filed by Fuji. still. market in the early 1960s.S. 8 .
the crisis evaporated as the market for silver collapsed. Kodak's management believed that its empire got the protection. as we know it. This time Kodak's and Fuji's painting would be changed forever. and life would go on as it had been for many decades to come. Nelson Bunker Hunt and William Herbert Hunt. As soon as Minoru Ohnishi. In 1984 Sony introduced its first digital camera. With other investors. the price skyrocketed to over $50 an ounce. Kodak included. experienced these two early warning shocks. In part.or so thought the management at Kodak. "That's when I realized film-less technology was possible. Only the Kodak folks seemed to have missed seeing the canvas -.or denied its existence altogether. The year 1979 was a soul-searching time for film manufacturers. he made his first move very quickly. It was time and the image began to appear. He kept wondering about the whatifs: What if silver disappeared? What if someone found a less expensive medium other than a silver-based chemical to produce photographic images? Frightening thought for those whose bread and butter was photographic films. as silver is an integral ingredient of the coating on the film roll. Kodak. an ounce of silver was just under $2. thanks in part to the steps by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and thus driving down inflation. The competitive landscape had returned to normal -. Kodak and Fuji management experienced both of these competitive shocks: The potential silver shortage and Consumer digital photography substituting for traditional film. How long could they sustain these high prices? What about their once fat margins? What if silver. who assumed his role as president of Fuji Photo Film in 1980. and others curtailed photographic film production. approximately half the world's supply. as well as a buffer against any further erosion in their oil holdings.A splotch of new paint In 1979 the canvas changed for the first time in a long time. Film prices escalated to an uncomfortable level. The Hunt brothers' attempt to corner the silver market and the resulting meteoric rise in the price of silver sent a shiver up the spines of all film producers. Agfa. the Hunts formed a silver pool that by 1979 had amassed more than two hundred million ounces of silver. the brothers saw silver as a hedge against inflation. would be so locked up that we may not have enough to meet demand? Fortunately for Kodak and its competition." Ohnishi stated at that time. Nothing was hidden. another drop or two of a new coloured paint fell onto the competitive canvas. 9 . When the Hunts began their investment scheme in 1973. Fuji. The data were there for everyone to see. members of one of America's wealthiest families at the time whose fortune began with their grandfather's stake in the oil business. Around the same time. By the time their plans became public in late 1979. decided that they wanted to corner the silver market. silver nitrate. by coincidence though. known as the Magical. Fuji's president at the time thought otherwise.
Kodak slowly began to wake up. and wake up they did. By the late 1980s Kodak. These are trivial though uncommon incidents which point and border on the unusual at times." -Frederick the Great Mark the incidents narrated below. Kodak's management saw the same painting emerge. In response. but never to be surprised. Other companies -.4 mega pixel CCD chip. history with nearly twenty thousand patents on file had already amassed more than a thousand patents in digital imaging alone.not traditional players in the century old photographic market – saw the pasture and began to muscle in on Kodak's lucrative turf. Kodak announced a 1. A Japanese automaker sends several employees to live in Cairo with their family. A beer company analyzes wastewater flowing out from the outlet discharge pipe of a competitor's brewery. a breakthrough years ahead of its competition and nearly fifteen years before anyone could buy a consumer digital camera with such resolution. They're not eavesdropping on phone conversations. and they're not doing anything illegal or unethical. and visit government 10 . its management had already allocated lots of resources to understanding and perfecting film-less photography. Their ultimate goal is to save millions of dollars on promotional and advertising campaigns by analysing the discharge and comparing with theirs to create a more customer friendly communication. What Is Competitive Intelligence? The Rise of Competitive Intelligence "It is pardonable to be defeated. the eighth-largest patent holder in U. They learn the local language. Two men in an unmarked minivan drive leisurely through the streets around Philadelphia tuning in cellular phone transmissions. Kodak still failed to act. Using advanced communications equipment similar to that used by the defence establishment they are measuring the strength and range of the communication signals of their competitor. having failed to execute his digital strategy. probably more than any other company on earth. but not before more of the painting formed and not before Fuji had taken even greater control of the digital market. Fisher left in 1999.S. he believed that Kodak needed to enter the digital age but instead found himself facing the managers of the chemical based film business who considered digital technology a threat to traditional film. (In 1986. Digital technology just languished in Kodak's labs. particularly into photo processing. By the time George Fisher arrived at Kodak as CEO from Motorola (a company that epitomized everything digital).Ohnishi has invested as much as $2 billion in R&D in digital technology since the early 1980s. study the Egyptian culture. Despite all these patents.
entering the stealthy darker realm of the world also known as industrial espionage. although some companies have been known to commit fouls by crossing the line -. He is assessing the number of prospective students at the competitor’s centre. filing Right to Information Act requests. Moreover. tapping phone lines. virtually everything they need to know is available in some accessible form or other. a manager swaggers in playing the part of a competitor's CEO. It's a rough and tough well 11 . Companies often deploy superspeed computers designed specifically for efficient high speed data analysis from a plethora of information.and business leaders even though no one there has ever driven a Japanese car. dresses. industrial sleuths and astute businesspeople looking for any angle to strike and beat the competition. including satellite photoreconnaissance. reverse engineering. These people are involved in the mysterious and often hazy secluded world of corporate or business competitive intelligence. space-age metals and alloys left as scrap on the walkway and probably on the shop floor as well.S electronics firm. Most companies don't enter this dangerous arena. In fact. It's not required. and even talks like the other person. He makes certain to wear soft. rubber-soled shoes. He acts. or destroy a competitor. It's a world inhabited by corporate spies. bordering on the illegal. A business consultant and metallurgist study the thickness of rust on railroad tracks coming out from a paper mill.3 When practiced responsibly it's legal and ethical. It will tell them how many container carriages roll out every day and derive whether or not to open a competing facility. combing government databases. and even hiring consultants psychologists to analyze a competitor's decision makers. These experts gather information by employing the latest technology and innovative methods. and burgling offices -. they have no plans to open a showroom for at least another ten years. launch new products. The gummy material easily picks up shavings of exotic. to be precise. These skilled corporate analysts fork out information from the most unlikely of places and transform it into deployable intelligence that can turn their company around. During the summer vacation time in India an innocuous looking young man stands outside the gate of a computer training centre and counts the people going in and coming out. What is competitive intelligence? Competitive intelligence is a systematic program for gathering and analyzing information about your competitors' activities and general business trends to further your own company’s goals. albeit sometimes purposely camouflaged or hard to find. increase market share.stealing information. During a strategy meeting of a U. A visitor takes a conducted tour of an aerospace company's plant as a tourist.
As a result there are many foreign business groups who could manage to dupe the German government. the government works with companies more covertly often illegally by international standards to collect information about foreign competitors. In Europe. Japanese companies. Only eighteen universities in the world have regular programmes with competitive intelligence course or module. has more than fifteen thousand employees in more than two hundred and fifty offices worldwide including India. they are moving toward economic 12 . includes trading companies (sago shosha) and government agencies that place operations units around the world to collect information and funnel it to huge depositories in Japan for use by company decision makers. said: "It would not be normal that we spy on the United States in political matters or in 'military matters’. companies." 3 Competitive intelligence has become the latest weapon of the corporate arsenal in the world war of economics. Less than 7 percent of large American companies have their own fullblown competitive intelligence divisions and most of these are relatively new. At times the data protection and its dissemination are so tight that it took time to distribute sensitive information even among the intelligentsia. a twenty-person branch of the Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure (DGSE). in the technological competition. Pierre Marion. They collect more than forty thousand pieces of business and competitive information daily. although their economic intelligence-gathering history goes back many centuries. France's equivalent of the CIA. at present. If done poorly.S. we are competitors. and still managed to slip out of their country. their own company might succumb to competition and disappear as a result of some miscalculations. the state-run banks play a large role in running businesses and therefore want to protect their investments. Between 1987 and 1989. which pits nation against nation. spied on companies like IBM and Texas Instruments and turned information over to their French competitors. In France. We are allied. but in the economic competition. We are not allied. Competitive intelligence is relatively new and as yet undeveloped among the majority of U. and disseminated to companies within the Mitsubishi family. In Germany. the situation is somewhat similar in that government agencies also have taken an active interest in competitive intelligence. Their competitive intelligence infrastructure. This data is filtered. The former head. But. Indian companies are yawning as they amble across the rings of competitive intelligence to enter the fiercely combative global business scenario. The banks have traditionally used their power and influence to collect confidential information about foreign companies and quietly disseminate it to German companies. These analysed data is then used as ammunition in the ongoing business w war against competitors across the globe. analysed.planned game that turns raw data into millions of dollars if done well. Mitsubishi. While the major powers are moving away from traditional weapons of destruction. for example. they have an in built weakness also. have had well-established competitive intelligence systems in place since World War II. by contrast. the industry giants and the banks for huge sums. Eighty percent are less than five years old.
This has not escaped notice by the CIA. post-liberalisation India is the growth of high-tech industries such as telecommunications. which has since grown to more than three and a half thousand members with affiliates all over the world. You will learn how companies around the world employ competitive intelligence and how Indian companies in particular are beginning to understand its value in an age of fierce global competition. Vietnam. Many of the emerging economies such as China. the CIA has quietly helped some U. What makes competitive intelligence even more critical in the new. Forget about living in the age of information. This book will attempt to guide you to be the best and brightest in the burgeoning world of competitive intelligence. They established the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP). to ensure their national sovereignty and survival. Competitive intelligence. Korea. and are operating in the global market. Although the number of Indian companies using competitive intelligence is unbelievably low. in various forms. and computers. it has started growing as a corporate discipline. 13 . These cutting-edge technology driven companies require large research and development expenditure. By using their wits instead of weapons. more industrialized countries.S. firms win large overseas contracts using pilot competitive intelligence programs. Unlike manufactured products of the past. a handful of people met in a hotel in Washington to discuss forming a group that would foster professional practice among those involved with competitive intelligence. the fulcrum of these exponentially growing industry segments is pure and simple knowledge . fibre optics. and Thailand see competitive intelligence as a way to win economic wars against larger. fast development cycles.not raw material. Turning information into effective actionable intelligence is what will ultimately separate the men (successful companies) from the greenhorn (those that fall by the wayside) not only in the hightechnology sector but every other business sector as well. It is now an organised corporate discipline in the United States and many industrial nations in the west. these countries are able to turn raw information into actionable intelligence to further their economic status in the world market and enhance their share of the world trade. Applauded by some and jeered by others. Only ten years ago. which has already taken the first steps toward becoming an economic intelligence provider for American businesses. long a part of Japan's industrial policy. have thinnest possible margins. chemicals.weapons like competitive intelligence. Former successful executives from the CIA had later helped big US corporations to start and practice competitive intelligence for gaining leadership positions in the market. is becoming an official part of the industrial policy of many European countries. This book will change the way you make decisions and show you why information is not critical anymore. pharmaceuticals. biotechnology. We are living in the age of intelligence and the two are very different.
The difference is explained below: Information is fact based. Indeed. When computers and telecommunications merged in the mid-1980s (Koji Kobayashi. they're actually confronted with lack of knowledge for differentiating information from intelligence. on the contrary. and worshipped it. and analysed. Information comprises of numbers. Information often apparently points at something which is actually not reality. between information and intelligence. and flowing through our computers and networks than anywhere else in the world. The result was the 9/11 disaster which was masterminded with meticulous planning and intelligence that Al Qaeda possessed and acted upon. When executives are confronted with the situation of too many reports to scan carrying too much information to go through before making a decision. had the vision to realize that communications and computers were intertwined and so set his company on that course). Managers need Intelligence to make decisions is. The ocean of information was not actually intelligent information and down went the WTC towers. stored." -Most company managers Effective deployment of competitive intelligence lies in knowing the difference between data and intelligent information. information has become a commodity rather a fast moving commodity. However. 14 . The difference between information and intelligence will guide them to stay on track to efficient and powerful decision making. Intelligence inculcates knowledge. is a collection of information bits that have been filtered. The United States appears to be the most information rich nation in the world. but we couldn't be more wrong. moved it. and then has been turned into structured form that can be acted upon. information became so important that we traded it. it is no longer the case. Intelligence. While that was true several years ago. distilled. not information. When US military intelligence had information about movements of suspected Al Qaeda members inside their country. or that is what the country claims to be.Competitive Intelligence for Your Company: Information versus Intelligence 'I’ve got too much to read. former chairman of NEC. Their concern actually is that they have too much information and not enough intelligence. we think we live in the information age. It is difficult to take good and effective decisions only based on information irrespective of the accuracy or comprehensive nature of the information. . they rested on their laurels and thought that they could act upon this set of information as and when necessary. This is not mere human intelligence – it is competitive intelligence. since that time. scattered bits of data about people and organisations and their actions that apparently seems to be of interest. This massive amount of facts makes United States think that data is important. They seem to have enormous amount of data and information produced. statistics. which is their primary confusion. They lacked intelligent information and the intelligence derived out of the information they had.
If everyone has the same information. Competitive Intelligence. while we continue to establish new sources of data. it definitely does. and other factors. When there was a sudden demand created out of the need of the US Air Force. Aerogel inventions were tucked away as just conference papers and routine patents not realising the potential of this discovery. information has become cheap and accessible at the same time. Industry was not ready to experiment at the cost of profits. Take the example of mobile phones that allow us to receive relevant information about our interest areas almost instantly anywhere we roam. their movements. Kogan Page. 1997) Yes.somebody wins when somebody loses . it has become less important with the utility time span reducing every hour. If everyone who wants that capability can have it -. What gives a trader the competitive advantage over someone else is his analysis of the prices.and the tariffs have come to the point where even the amateur trader can afford the service -. Aerogel products were fruits of years of research work and culmination of this work into various patents that initially appeared futile exercise.With the advent of massive commercial as well as government databases.pure information is no longer an edge. who has the edge over his competitors? Because the commodities market usually is a zero sum game . companies pulled out the old patents and research work to examine a commercial option which initially underplayed 15 . So. How he turns raw information into usable intelligence is what separates the successful trader from the one who fails.does that make the information less valuable? Modern Business Eras Machinery Capital And Labour 1950s – 1960s Information Intelligence (Knowledge) 1940s 1980s 1990s Mechanical Technology Investment Computers Information Competitive and aka Intelligence Systems Analysis BUSINESS DRIVERS Figure 1-1 (Source: Larry Kahaner.
both have the same capabilities. In other words.the potential of the product or the companies who possessed the patent. Would your first thought be that the lower-cost consultant could not be as good as the more expensive one? Of course. but one was much less expensive than the other. homogeneous process spread across every section or unit and as a continuous activity. the fact that one consultant's services are priced lower would bring up questions about their competency. companies have a full-scale. do only 7 percent of large U.S. What Competitive Intelligence Can Do for Organisations Thinking of hiring a consulting firm? Two of them come highly recommended. competitive intelligence is more a process than a function. why doesn't every company do it? Why. This is true of all businesses and will remain so for times to come. Although the prime objective of competitive intelligence is to support management decision making. Okay. But you'll find that instituting a full-blown competitive intelligence system is neither costly nor disruptive and pays off in ways you can't yet imagine. formalized competitive intelligence system? For small companies the number is lower. the start-up costs are low and the rewards extremely high. Organisations that direct their intelligence efforts at tracking changes in the marketplace are rarely surprised by events that affect their businesses. suppose that instituting a competitive intelligence system would require only minimal resources and a minute change in organizational structure. Now. First. and above all make or break organisations. Before answering that question. A formal competitive intelligence program in an organisation would help to bring following direct benefits: Develop ability to anticipate the dynamics and the changes in the marketplace. The knowledge and ability of turning information into intelligence will chart the success stories. Therefore it should ideally integrate into an organisation’s business as one seamless. about 5 percent. having a formal competitive intelligence system in place would help any organisation address many different issues. It's only human nature. On the other hand. 16 . so if it's so good. because it is human nature to think so. according to the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals. Would that change how you felt about it? Would the low cost make it seem unworthy? I'm sure it would. Even though there might be other factors involved. let us have a look at what a competitive intelligence system can do for an organisation. Companies drew information out of their knowledge pool and knowledge database to create a product which when commercially viable could convert the concept into a reality. companies with competitive blind spots would go for the less expensive consultant.
Airtel would have to respond by activating its spare channels or lose customers to Hutch. Let us take the case of automobile giants of US. So. They made a successful entry in to the American auto market. (AIRTEL) regularly monitors its cellular phone coverage area and can pick up radio signals (not phone conversations!) from the towers of its competitor Hutch. The price of the motor fuel (petrol and diesel) was increasing. For example. known as "Access to AT&T Analysts. The “Big Three” of the US automobile market did not have the feel of the market behaviour in the 1970s. Listeners may try to determine if Hutch has turned on spare channels that are held in reserve for expansion.On the other hand. AT&T has one of the corporate world's most advanced competitive intelligence systems. commuting was becoming a necessity and small cars the need of the small families. These extra channels would not only give customers better service . 17 . not paying attention and neglected market signals can exact a high price. the latent need of the market was small cars with high fuel efficiency and high quality performance. This is a classic case of misreading of the changing market place. If they have indeed activated these channels. If Hutch is "heard" field-testing its extra channels.but better coverage in outlying areas." is a database of in-company experts. Along with these the consumer became conscious about the quality. they are the competitors you would expect such as Sprint or MCI but. But. it could mean that Airtel better respond with its own plans to activate its bank of spare channels. One facet. An inquiry might produce someone at the company who has lived in Russia. more than one thousand people. One part of the service is a flagging system that tracks the ten companies in which employees have expressed the most interest or about which have asked the most questions. Usually. not always. who make themselves available to other employees in their area of expertise. The demographic change was like a slow organic transformation or metamorphosis happening in the automobile customer segments. Scanning the external business environment Anticipating competitors’ actions Bharti Cellular Ltd. Japanese auto makers did as they had the competitive intelligence on this growing market. Discover new or potential competitors. it might not learn that its rival could be using its spare channels until it was too late stop customer churns which is the phenomenon of customers migrating to the company with better service and larger coverage. Therefore. The US auto makers did not wake up to respond to this latent demand. American families were breaking into small nucleus families and staying outside the cities where they could afford the cost. an employee might be researching segments of the Russian market. Let us now look at an example of using competitive intelligence to identify potential competitors. If Airtel doesn't have this early-warning system.fewer busy signals for instance .
Walton saw how poorly retail salespeople were treated by Wal-Mart management. In addition. Sears' poor distribution system was the root of the problem. The long time line allows continual tracking of competitors' similar projects and allows you to make strategic decisions along the way about your own projects. Marion Merrell Dow's manager of global scientific competitive intelligence. Meurisse concluded. He set out to build a program to motivate and train employees. which gave his customers the service they desired. A study was commissioned to find out about the company and why AT&T employees were interested in it. Sam Walton. it turned out he was making very little profit . His products actually were coming from rock-bottom-priced factories in the Far East and not from his European facilities. In another instance. he was a threat. was brilliant at learning from competitors' mistakes and successes.he was growing through low pricing. it was discovered that the company was entering one of AT&T's lines of business. who would now be called "associates." He instituted stock options and bonuses. founder of Wal-Mart stores. So Walton decided to build a state-of-the-art distribution system. The pharmaceutical industry has unique challenges. Further sleuthing led Meurisse to believe that the owner had lied about his production capabilities." Learn about new technologies. "The bottom line is that he really wasn't making any low-priced European make products despite the fact that originally we thought he was. including very long lead times-sometimes ten to fifteen years for certain drugs-coupled with high research and development costs. He had several factories in Europe. Competitive intelligence saved us from buying the wrong company. It was growing and gaining market share. Penney pioneered in 1913 the practice of calling salespeople associates and giving them a financial stake in the company's performance. including his own fleet. Walton copied many of these positive aspects from a very successful retailer. although he was increasing market share. but that threat would be short-lived.But. According to Pat Bryant. He learned that customers were unhappy with retail giant Sears because they were often out of stock on items. It was a private company. products. and processes that affect your business. to built esprit de corps among his salespeople. Increase the range and quality of acquisition targets. J C Penney. but there was very little information available about the company or its operations. The competitive intelligence system warned AT&T about the company's potential activity months before there was a story about it in the Wall Street Journal. a company they had never heard of suddenly appeared on the list. After some research. Mike Meurisse of 3M United Kingdom PLC was looking at a company for possible acquisition because it was nibbling away at one of 3M's product lines. Learn from the successes and failures of others. the company continually monitors competitors' progress through public records at the Food and Drug Administration and through research journals and 18 . It was not a threat after all. In that regard. run by a tyrannical owner who played his cards close to the vest.
legislative. or regulatory changes that can affect your business A Samsung employee in Los Angeles read in the newspaper that one of America's last guitar factories was going to close mainly due to less expensive Korean imports. Look at your own business practices with an open mind. In some cases. Samsung shipped all the guitars they could to U. "Competitive intelligence helps us determine if we want to continue our own development.elsewhere. warehouses and stockpiled them. After dinner they would count how many people were in the bar. the Crystal Harmony. which engaged in the following analysis: Guitars are symbols of America's independence and free spirit. especially large corporations. As they expected.S. they would take photos of the dining arrangements in luxury liner restaurants. he went to Japan where he found an eager audience. nobody in the United States was interested in implementing what he was advocating' until decades later. the Crystal Harmony. Even though his concepts were responsible in part for Japan becoming a world leader in the manufacturing of high-quality products. how many were dancing. Enter new businesses.000 ton version of the Queen Elizabeth II was on the high seas. Many companies. After several years of competitive intelligence cruising. Total Quality 19 . Intelligence analysts thought that there would be a backlash against imported guitars and that Congress might set higher tariffs to protect a genuinely American industry and all that it stood for. we have done just that and saved the company a lot of money which would have been wasted. They checked out people at the pool and in lounge chairs. and how many were strolling along the deck. Not only can competitive intelligence help you decide if you should enter a new business. He sent that information to company headquarters in Seoul. Methods become stale and outmoded. For example. Competitive intelligence exposes you to new ideas and concepts. They worked every day until the early morning hours. Just before dinner. A good example of that is W. think internally. put in additional resources. When Deming's ideas were rejected by American firms after World War II. a Japanese naval architect who designed huge oil tankers was assigned to design Japan's first tourist ship. He and two other designers took cruises all over the world. Edwards Deming. at which time they went back to their rooms and put the numbers into a database for later analysis. a 49. it can give you a running start. It causes you to become externally focused. . Japan's entry into the cruise ship business was successful. They took notes about everything they could visually inspect. Now. It might be likened to the disappearance of the cowboy. or shut our program down because the problems are not worth the extra expense. the father of quality control manufacturing." Learn about political. It was business as usual for American firms even though old methods didn't work anymore. Congress raised tariffs on imported guitars but Samsung had a huge supply on hand and was able to profit handsomely even after the tariffs took effect.
For companies that made half hearted or no attempts at establishing a formal competitive intelligence program. 20 . Efforts there have also failed due to lack of information and an intelligence infrastructure. Help implement the latest management tools. Or when they finally located what they needed. the information' wasn't timely. they would have seen the usefulness of his theories. most American companies now are starting to understand that the 1980s were a cakewalk compared to the 1990s and the coming decades. One of the reasons is the lack of information. The pace of our daily business (and personal) lives is increasing dramatically. some companies have reported trouble implementing and sustaining valuable tools like TQM. Their complaints mainly concerned what survey authors Fuld & Company called "internal information bottlenecks.Management (TQM) concepts are being implemented at many manufacturing facilities in the United States with excellent results. Why Companies Need Competitive Intelligence Now More Than Ever Efforts at getting competitive intelligence up and running in the 1980s were often scattershot although the best programs have endured. companies on the 1979 Fortune 500 list are still on the list. The same could be said of tools like customer satisfaction.S. For example: The pace of business is increasing rapidly. most stated that a lack of information caused them to fail in their attempts to bring TQM to their companies. However. and customer satisfaction. Think how much more quickly you're expected to respond to queries from suppliers and customers. Remember the days when you could mail someone papers for delivery in a few days and that was good enough? Then remember how overnight delivery services changed that and next-day delivery became standard for some projects? Now think about how fax machines and e-mail have changed the game again. Suddenly. projects that took weeks must be accomplished in days. perhaps it still wasn't deemed important enough. Consider this: Today. less than 40 percent of the U. or for that matter paid attention to Deming back in the 1940s. Competitive intelligence is an absolute imperative because of events and changes that occurred in the 1980s and show no sign of abating." Respondents said they couldn't get internal company information that they needed because they didn't know where to find it. reengineering. Had U. In short. companies been looking at Japanese business practices with an open mind. According to a 1993 survey of managers who were trying to implement TQM.S. their companies tried to implement TQM without an intelligence infrastructurewithout a competitive intelligence system and failed. which is crucial to a company's success. Lately.
why should we complain about having too much power? Because information alone is not enough.and perhaps with fewer resources. learning what's useful and what's not-and then using it to our benefit. your hometown money card can get you local currency almost anywhere in the world. China. For your business. we are experiencing a global economy.Think about how your own company expects you to handle more projects with more speed than ever before . even in other industrialized countries-so it's not just a matter of finding cheap labour as in the past. Now. Competitive intelligence can help identify new and emerging competitors. we all complain about how much information we must wade through to learn what we need to know to conduct our business. Competitive intelligence is not just about collecting information. financial firms can be located anywhere and global banking is commonplace. Increased global competition from new competitors For the first time in history. filtering it. Companies no longer think in terms of political borders when it comes to running their businesses or selling their products.it's because there's too much of it. It's about analyzing this information. We pride ourselves on how much information we have. or read an important industry journal in a timely fashion? It's not because these sources of information aren’t important . and Brazil that were never world economic players in the past are now part of the global economy. it means that competition can come from any country. 21 . Indonesia. If information is power. Because of better telecommunications. Information overload Too much information is always worse than having too little information. Industrialized countries are building facilities all over the world. Don't we believe that information in itself is power? On the other hand. Japanese and German automakers now have plants in North America. Your personal portfolio of mutual funds is not considered well rounded unless you have international funds containing shares of overseas companies. This trend is growing as world and regional trade agreements such as GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and the European Union. How many managers can say that they return all phone calls. The key to keeping pace with the new speed of business is through the efficient management and use of competitive intelligence.who knows if that one phone call or one article will improve your performance . Countries such as Korea. Chances are you're also making more decisions and making them faster than ever before. and NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) become institutionalized. A few years ago you had to carry paper money or traveller’s checks when you travelled overseas. handle their mail.
change now comes in leaps and bounds. businesses that never existed before are operating. a coup in a Caribbean nation. gene-produced compounds? Keeping track of technological changes in your own industry and other industries is vital for survival. Now. Political changes affect us quickly and forcefully. marketing. look at the deregulation of businesses such as telecommunications. In any business it's more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to keep current ones. or the signing of a peace accord in the Middle East can change the face of business overnight. No one has to tell you that competitors will find and capitalize on any weakness in your organization. If ever an industry changes fast. so can technological change. this is it. This means that companies will increase market share at the expense of their competitors. Competitive intelligence can help you forecast competitors' actions and allow you to be proactive. Who knows where the next breakthrough will occur? Who knows when a disease will be cured or a new organic compound manufactured using gene technology? What would happen to certain industry sectors if chemical pesticides could be replaced by non-polluting. with many companies willing to sacrifice profits for market share. The fight for customers is fierce. There are positive opportunities for some and losses for others. and electric utilities. Rapid technological change and need for innovation Just the way political change can alter markets. advertising. almost daily. They no longer are. something happens in the computer: industry-some new technological breakthrough-that can mean new opportunities. or distribution. and fast-moving technology alters the rules of the game continually. Along with the growing global marketplace comes a maturing market in industrialized countries such as the United States.Existing competition is becoming more aggressive. Think about the end of the Cold War and what it did to the defence industry. 22 . there are new players and new markets. airlines. whether it's in production. Within a few years. Competitive intelligence can keep you informed of political changes that affect your business. Never before in history has political change been so massive or so quick to affect our lives. What about the highly trained labour force that it left in its wake and the products it left behind? What possibilities does it give us? Within our own borders. The crumbling of the Berlin Wall. Look at biotechnology. Do you remember when there was no business called "the computer business"? Although it took years to become established. Suddenly. Electric utilities used to be government-sanctioned monopolies.
their annual reports. It's not the whole picture. How many years did it take for American carmakers to believe that the Japanese were making better cars than Detroit? How long did it take before American steel companies realized that Japan and other countries could make better steel? Was it because American businesspeople were stupid? No.Why Companies Don't Use Competitive Intelligence Despite the fact that everything a company does -.involves the flow of information and intelligence. upper management show that they get much of their information from their peers. There's a tendency for executives and managers to read the Wall Street Journal. The "everything is better in the United States" attitude does exist and this belief spills over into business." We laugh. only a handful of companies have a fully developed. but many company managers believe this one. character often is one of misplaced superiority compared to the rest of the world. technical publications. Worse yet. For anyone who has visited Japanese companies. While this is a good source of information. "Nothing goes on outside this company or outside this country that’s worth watching. it's skewed." Humbleness isn't a characteristic that we see in many American managers. hobnobbing with other CEOs. everything they can to understand the competition. 23 . and think they know everything that's going on in their own particular industry. Surveys of U. it's because they had blinders on to the world outside the United States.S.S. systematic way for dealing with these two drivers. the local newspaper.from managers making decisions to using management tools like TQM and customer satisfaction -. simply one view from the rarefied world of upper management. in comparison to his Japanese counterparts. The U. Have you heard the following statements? Have you thought or said them yourself? These are the business paradigms that do not tend to shift or even if they do resistance hinders the shifting pace. That's strange. one of the biggest eye-openers is how much Japanese managers . the way managers think about intelligence. manager read outside his company's own reports? Very little.read. why do so few companies embrace it? The most important reason is attitude. skim a few trade journals. managers think they know what's going on in the general marketplace by reading a few magazines. Business Paradigms “Nothing goes on in this industry that I don't already know about. isn't it? If competitive intelligence is such a strong process and the basis for everything a company does.even at the highest levels .S. How much does the average U. They peruse their competitors' publications.
Awareness among academics is spreading. and a greater knowledge of markets. they rarely look outside their immediate area for information that could be useful. 24 . how much money did your company lose by not doing something? For example. though. don't embrace change.two separate and different pursuits. as you'll see in later chapters. The only answer is education.D." says Bernard Jaworski. Looking at it another way. they equate competitive intelligence with industrial espionage . "Competitive intelligence is a cost centre. But a person can obtain a master of business administration degree in the United States without ever taking a class in competitive intelligence. The cost of competitive intelligence is considered the cost of doing business. a professor at the University of Arizona who tried to quantify the effects of competitive intelligence programs. this superiority complex is fading and American industry is beginning to learn from those in other countries. in competitive intelligence. However. "No simple correlation exists. Everything works through an intermediary. you can now obtain a Ph.S. competitive intelligence is considered part of how companies are run every day. competitive intelligence leads to increased quality. but companies that are not in the global arena-who are very local or regionally focused -can also learn from what's happening in other countries. not a profit centre. In Japan and France there are government affiliated schools and courses of study dedicated to competitive intelligence. In Japan. However. "It's not taught in business school." Many high-level managers don't understand that 85 to 90 percent of the information your company needs can be found legally and ethically. According to Jaworski and others. for instance. In fact. They don't have to count beans to know that competitive intelligence pays off in the long run. On the other hand. It's unethical. It's too expensive to implement a program. Schools." What CEOs are really saying is: "I can't quantify the benefits of competitive intelligence. some U. albeit slowly. putting a dollar figure on those facets is difficult if not impossible in many cases. better strategic planning. several professors have said that they have tried to institute these courses and ran into resistance. therefore it's not vital. like other institutions. schools are making a start. "Competitive intelligence is spying." Schools in other countries teach competitive intelligence. Most multinational companies understand this.Fortunately. This is to be expected with something new." The effects of competitive intelligence are indirect. Unfortunately. Its cost effectiveness is riot questioned. how much market share did you lose by not knowing your competitors' activities? How much did you lose by not getting that contract? Was it because you didn't have enough information about your competitor? Japanese companies don't ask these questions. In Sweden.
CEOs want to know about a competitor's financial situation.” If you look at the Fortune 500 companies.people and money. and came up with a competing product first. they don't give users the full benefits that they could get by employing a formalized system. This emphasis on financials is important.S. its market share for instance. Of course it fails. Someone is pulled out of marketing to work on competitive intelligence in their spare time. Kodak was slow in getting "it to market. Even though Kodak had patented the camera for use by tourists who forgot to bring their own. It's been said lately that industry firms look to numbers to keep profitable while foreign firms look to technology for their future profit. I didn't see results. about 7 percent have a highly developed competitive intelligence system. they may not appreciate their competitor's technical prowess. Everyone is disappointed. The importance of learning about the latest technology through competitive intelligence methods' -is often overlooked by American CEOs. Faye Brill." Many companies jump on the competitive intelligence bandwagon because of something they read or heard about the subject. with sales reaching 29 million by 1993. not to mention the sales? Single-use cameras are no j small market. including patents. now at Ryder Truck. Fuji introduced a single-use camera in Japan. 25 . "We tried doing some competitive intelligence. . As a result. In 1988. while many U. says it best: "What I've seen in company after company is that they don't put the. resources behind competitive intelligence. formerly of NutraSweet. “CEOs are financial in nature and not technical in nature. When you poll these 'companies and ask if they have a competitive intelligence system they'll say yes. about 80 percent of firms have some informal system or ad hoc methods that they use.In the late 1980s. while these informal systems are better than nothing. The CEO decides to get a clipping service and at times asks the librarian to subscribe to an on-line data-bank service or two. American CEOs often come from financial backgrounds and not from technical or engineering backgrounds. of courser companies must make a profit to survive . Kodak learned through competitive intelligence methods that Fuji was planning to market the camera in the United States and introduced their model just one day before Fuji came out with theirs.but it also leads to a bias . It's the fastest growing photography segment. Kodak got the bulk of news coverage while Fuji had to settle for being an also-ran in consumers' and retailers' eyes." As opposed to CEOs in other countries. Fuji used public-domain sources. For example. Surprise! It doesn't work. Competitive intelligence is doomed without full-time resources . and the thought of doing competitive intelligence disappears.against information sources that are technical in nature. Unfortunately. Could Kodak quantify the price of competitive intelligence that allowed them to steal Fuji's thunder. It can be anything from subscribing to a clipping service that looks for key words' in articles to using on-line databases. six million units were sold. However. and it was a failure.
Because competitive intelligence is such a powerful process. 1.Larry Kahaner. Competitive Intelligence 26 . The Secret Language of Competitive Intelligence 3. This leads them to believe that they're doing all they can in that area. companies see large returns with even a small. there are darkening clouds looming from the horizon.Adopted from Leonard M Fuld. informal effort. This can lull managers into a false sense of security about their competitors. when they wake up. Then.Leonard M Fuld in The Secret Language of Competitive Intelligence 2.
• • • Competition in economic theory The theory of competition in economics is heavily focused on price competition. Customers will migrate to it from its dearer competitors and the enterprise will make more profit so long as the total additional sales bring in more revenue than is lost through selling at a lower price per item.. it was also applied to predict what 27 . There is no ambiguity in the data as the prices charged are known and a chain of deductive logic yields a lengthy series of results which can be pleasingly displayed in chart form. This chapter reviews how competition theory has progressed: • • beginning with the neo-classical economics view of it taking place in perfectly competitive markets and based on price its subsequent amendment to include situations where elements of monopoly were present and firms sought to compete by differentiating themselves from their rivals the later refinement of 'contestable markets' where the influence of potential new players as well as existing competitors was taken into account Michael Porter's three axes of competition price differentiation customer focus His subsequent 'five forces' model of the competitive environment. Recognizing that there were times when the buyer did not have a choice. Readers already familiar with this topic can go on to later chapters. just as Euclid's six axioms and six postulates generate a whole corpus of geometry extending over 13 books of theorems. those coming fresh to it will find an account of the historical evolution of competition theory a suitable starting place and knowledge of it indispensable for the study of CI. Analysts need this theoretical framework in order to structure their work.UNIT 2 How do Companies Compete? That a discipline such as CI exists implies that a general theory (that is applicable to all industries and companies) as to how businesses compete underpins it. From this simple premise a very sophisticated body of analysis has been constructed.. Competition theory in economics began with the supposition of a perfect market where price is the only factor a would-be customer needs to know when choosing which supplier to buy from. A company can gain a competitive advantage through charging lower prices than its rivals. as there was just one supplier in the market. as understanding the basis on which firms compete is essential in explaining their behaviour. However.
. and better after-sales service and so on. More attractive markets would tempt outsiders to join the contest for a share of them. Chamberlain's analysis was grounded in the fact that most markets were neither perfect. If there were high sunk costs (expenses of entry that could not be recovered) such as heavy spending on advertising to build and develop a brand or incurred in creating a distribution network then market contestability would be low. However. Porter's model of how companies compete had three dimensions: Price Differentiation of the product or service from its competitors Customer focus . This might be largely true for commodities like cotton . This covered not only the actual players in a market. it was absurd where most business activities were concerned. Nevertheless. Not enjoying a monopoly position because of the existence of their competitors they strove to create a quasi-monopoly. It could also be subjective .bales of the same grade would be of the same quality. A later refinement of competition theory was Baumol. while competing in the same line of business.concentrating upon meeting the needs of specific groups of customers.would happen under such monopoly conditions. Some examples of at least near-perfect markets and some of pure monopolies could be found in the real world. with the happy buyer skipping from supplier to supplier as their prices altered. were trying to build a penumbra of monopoly around their brands. These companies.Firms sought to persuade customers that what they offered was different /Tom what their rivals were selling. Competitive Strategy Porter's three axes of competition A decisive advance in understanding competition took place in 1980 with the publication of Michael Porter's Competitive Strategy. but also potential entrants. 28 . Willig and Panzer's concept of contestable markets. This differentiation could be substantive: one supplier offering extra features. longer product life.hence the heavy use of branding. supported by advertising. In monopolistic competition a few rival companies struggled for business within a market. The extent of contestability was determined by the ease or difficulty of entering a market. nor monopolistic with sullen customers having to accept grudgingly a price laid down by the seller. Where sunk costs were low (for example where a factory and its machines could be cheaply converted to other uses if the owner decided to withdrawn from this particular market) then contestability would be high. to establish' the difference between products even if this was objectively hard to identify or actually minimal. Traditional economic theory had assumed that the only distinction between what the various market players offered was in terms of price. dissatisfaction with the theory's lack of realism led Edward Chamberlain to publish his Monopolistic Competition in 1933.
even if the latter is better value. The economist Giffen noted that sales of bread. Tesco began to lose market share to supermarkets that were dearer. A more modem example of this was the Tesco supermarket chain. Later on. Of course a price advantage can be a powerful mean!. PRICE As noted earlier. traditional economic theory had largely explained competition in terms of price. of winning business success people like a bargain or use a low-cost supplier simply because their budget does not stretch t a more expensive offering. The failure of the price of bread to increase became known as 'Giffen's paradox'. moving away 29 . His motto was 'pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap'. but had a wider range of products (particularly of higher quality foods) and a less Spartan shopping environment. If the price fell. even in the nineteenth century it was realized that price was more complicated than assumed when drawing charts of demand and supply. this never received the same degree of attention or achieved the intellectually pleasing elegance of price theory. They may mix a couple or even all three of them and firms with a wide range of products often use a different competitive mode for various parts of their portfolio. This also accounts for its popularity with CI analysts.A firm can compete on Price Differentiation Customer focus Figure 2-1: Porter's three axes of competition Companies are naturally not restricted to employing only one of these modes of competing. Tesco had to go through a lengthy period of reinvention. as people grew more affluent. consumers did not buy more loaves. did not rise when the price fell. However. His framework organized the complex numerous elements of competing into an easily grasped summary that nonetheless had considerable explanatory power of how the real world worked. contrary to theory. This is undoubtedly true. shown in diagrammatic form in Figure 2-1. meat. However. Bread was the 'staff of life' and the first item 'to be bought. It did doff its hat at 'non-price' ways of competing in imperfect markets. Sir John Cohen successfully built up a huge business where low prices were the key selling point. but the Porter model won favour from the business community exactly because it made sense to them in terms how their firms competed. Their money went instead on more desirable foods such as vegetables. fish and fruit. Porter's scheme met with initial resistance (and still does to a slighter extent) tram some sections of academia on the grounds that it was too simplistic and failed to cover the full range of ways of competing.
from the original 'cheap and cheerful' model to recover its market position. so that customers felt that not only were they benefiting from buying its products. Instead of the effort and inconvenience involved in going to an insurance company office. Freeserve prospered at first and was given a separate stock market listing from its parent. All of these entrepreneurs established an enduring franchise. Ted Turner carved a strong market niche with his CNN. a fake or stolen. despite the fact that others could imitate their concepts. financed by interest-free credit. DIFFERENTIATION The second way for enterprises to compete (recognized in the economic theory of monopolistic competition) is by differentiating their goods and services from those offered by other suppliers. Others are unable to sustain their early lead in the competitive race. Being able to pay them is a sign of wealth and confers a degree of social cachet. Their opening hours were also inconvenient for those wishing to browse and purchase books. Actual prices are also more difficult to determine than in economic theory. A new way of buying insurance was delivered by Peter Wood in his Direct Line telephone insurer service. The Body Shop laid a heavy emphasis on showing social and environmental concern. Viewers could catch up with world events without having to wait for the slots dedicated to news bulletins interspersing the other TV programming. with their Freeserve ISP. Higher prices often indicate superior quality and hence better value for money for those able to afford them. but that they were helping the world as well. Dixon. carrying an extensive stock and open till late in the evenings. A few examples will show how common this is. For many businesses charging more than their rivals can actually be the path to success. Internet service providers (ISPs) used to insist customers paid a subscription to join. which proved very successful. broke the mould by offering internet access without an up front subscription. A straightforward comparison of them is often impossible because varying prices will be charged under different circumstances. a television channel devoted to news and continually updated. regular sums or on an 'as you use' basis and so on. Even when the difference in quality is marginal or wholly illusory there will still often be a perception of higher quality attached to more expensive goods or services. For luxury items a high price is essential for the product to carry conviction. Discounts on unit prices will often be given for larger purchases and the terms and conditions of the offer made more appealing by allowing the payment to be made in instalments. working as a manager in WH Smith. Most bookshops were too small and did not offer a wide range of stock. Hence consumers will usually shun very cheap perfume on the grounds that it must be rubbish. realized there was a mismatch between what customers wanted from a bookshop and what they were being offered. there may be the choice of paying an annual subscription. Anita Roddick created a global personal care product retailing empire by giving her stores a 'green' image. customers merely had to pick up the phone. High prices also convey a sense of exclusivity. but could not maintain the large market share it had rapidly seized 30 . Waterstone's developed a chain of large shops. Tim Waterstone.
'Five forces' model Professor Porter further enriched the literature of competition by devising his 'five forces' approach to analyzing an industry and the players operating in it. on the other. CUSTOMER FOCUS The third mode of competing. He looks at the balance of bargaining power between a company and. sex and sangria holidays for younger people.2) is the intensity of competition within the industry itself. does not detract from the inspired nature of its original business model and the adroitness with which it was implemented. A fine example of skilful market segmentation was the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). but focusing a company's offering on a specific market. owing to management dishonesty. well known to those in marketing. there are many other ways of segmenting markets. its suppliers and. Many companies dream of establishing a global business or brand. providing less hedonistic vacations for the older generation. who often perceived them as intimidating places and who forced them to discuss complex financial matters in English when their command of the language was limited. Apart from focusing on specific locations. as exemplified by the success of Club 1830. BCCI literally 'spoke their language’.as other ISPs followed suit and abandoned subscriptions. The fifth force (shown as the central box in Figure 2. takes a long time to do and is extremely difficult to achieve. on the one side. Gujarati and the other languages of the subcontinent and had a better understanding of the culture and financial needs of their clients. This focused on customers in Britain who had been brought up in the Indian sub-continent. Supplier power New entrants Intensity of Composition Substitutions Customer power Figure 2-2: Porter's five forces model 31 . its staff could speak Hindi. Building a worldwide presence is very costly. Porter also examines the competitive threat posed by new entrants to the market and by substitute products which its customers can use to replace the company's offering. Existing retail banks were failing to meet the needs of these people. is not trying to sell to the world in general. and Saga. its customers. The later collapse of the bank. offering sun. Punjabi. Age group is one of them. In a lot of cases a higher percentage return on investment may be realized much more quickly and easily if a particular geographical area (which can range down to a small locality) is targeted.
In fragmented industries where numerous players hold tiny market shares. so then the supplier has to partly finance them. 2) Bargaining strength of customers The other side of the coin. Many factors can trigger this migration such as a technological breakthrough that creates a new substitute.1) Bargaining strength of suppliers A powerful customer can compel discounts or preferential service. his framework matched with how businesspeople actually viewed the competitive landscape and quickly became an indispensable tool for CI practitioners. despite its simplicity. The trend towards outsourcing more functions traditionally performed in-house has enhanced the power of many suppliers. In contrast. It is very difficult for a new pharmaceutical firm or electricity generating company to break into these sectors because the obstacles to entry are so formidable. while ex-customers likewise often do this via backward integration (by invading their suppliers' market territory). controlling essential raw materials or proprietary technology. enjoy a very strong bargaining position in relation to their suppliers. where there is only one supplier). 5) Strength of competitive rivalry between market players The intensity of competition will depend on the structure of the industry. The threat will become serious if customers are able and willing to switch to other products or services. 32 . or delay payment. Once again. which holds the whip hand over the firms dependent on them. Some sectors are dominated by a handful of giant producers with large individual multinational market shares and rivalry is fierce. 4) Competitive threat posed by substitutes Industry players may be largely insulated from this danger if there are no acceptable substitutes for what they are offering. with their huge. steep price increases. inter-firm competition will usually be mild and localized. concentrated buying power. 3) Competitive threat posed by new entrants The extent of this depends on the height of barriers to entering the market. Supermarket chains. ranging from poorly placed customers who have to accept the terms offered through the spectrum to monopsony situations (where there is only one customer. In other sectors there may be a handful of suppliers. Former suppliers frequently decide to extend their operations through forward integration (moving into their customers' business spheres). as opposed to monopoly. for peoplebased service sector lines of business there may be no significant barriers to deter new players. especially where they enjoy elements of exclusivity under the partnering agreement. Porter's model reduces the myriad of factors influencing a competitive environment into a group of key determining forces. which undermine customer preference for the existing product or changes in consup1er tastes is exemplified by young female drinkers turning to alcopops in place of wine.
33 . Such models are heavily used to direct the course of CI research and are frequently included in Competitive Intelligence reporting.Conclusions Porter's three axes of competition provide a good place to begin analyzing the basis on which an individual company competes. Porter’s five forces model offers a starting point for understanding and describing the competitive situation within an industry.
although competitive intelligence staff can provide guidance to line managers on their requirements. These normally identify the priority topics for future intelligence programmes and set them in priority order. There are many topics on which intelligence may be nice to have but far from essential. Given the cost of intelligence collection it is imperative that resources are concentrated on the essential rather than the peripheral. Once a range of topics have been identified the next task is priority setting. One of their most valuable contributions is to steer managers away from topics on which it will be impossible to provide meaningful intelligence. 34 . The intelligence sights are set too low even more frequently than they are set high. not a task.Competitive Intelligence Checklist). It: Collects requirements from the various intelligence users within the company Eliminates the duplications Assigns the collection tasks to internal and external resources Assesses the results and calls for clarification and extension where needed Feeds results back to the users Meets with users to discuss the results and collect further needs. Oddly enough there is also a need to educate managers on what it is possible to obtain. they cannot make the final decisions.UNIT 3 Key Intelligence Topics Most organisations have neither the physical resources nor the budget to study every aspect of their competitors' performance. At this stage a checklist of topics that could potentially be covered is helpful as a starting point for decision-making (see Appendix . An active and effective competitive intelligence department sits at the centre of a network of internal and external contacts. One of the main tasks of the staff responsible for competitive intelligence is to ensure that only those questions that will make a contribution to the performance of their company are asked. Initiating an intelligence programme is the most difficult part of the process since management and the competitive intelligence staff can be equally ignorant on what is required. Regular meetings need to be held between intelligence collectors and intelligence users at which intelligence is discussed and evaluated. The most valuable topics are those that managers will actually use in their planning and marketing programmes and. As managers become regular users of intelligence and intelligence becomes embedded in their decision-making process the task of defining what is required becomes considerably easier. what is likely to be used and what can make a contribution to performance. that which is useful and that which should be obtained only if it proves possible within the constraints imposed on the competitive intelligence programme. either because it could not be collected using legal methods or because whatever is collected will have so many caveats that it will be virtually impossible to use. which involves categorizing intelligence into that which is regarded as essential. Defining key intelligence topics is a process. Nor do they often have the need to study everything.
the time and budget available and the applications for which the data are required. Routine work involves the collection of: Company brochures. their future positioning and the market segments they are likely to be targeting. This covers a wide range of enquiries of varying levels of sophistication. their intended growth rates. A profile can be comprehensive or relatively superficial. The analysis will commonly cover their commitment to the business.Format for Collecting and Presenting Intelligence There are three formats within which intelligence can be collected and presented for use: Profiles of competitors Tactical intelligence Tracking Strategic intelligence The choice of format depends on the stage in the analytical process. depending on the application for which it is intended. The ultimate objective of a profile is not simply to describe the activities of competitors but to draw deductions about their future objectives the means by which they intend to achieve them and the intensity with which they will pursue growth or defend an existing position. Product samples Price lists Credit agreements More demanding tactical intelligence exercises can provide information on any aspect of a competitor's operations such as: Orders gained Key customers Equipment purchases Sales force size and quality 35 . Direct intelligence on these subjects is rarely obtained using the methods available to competitive intelligence analysts but a full profile can support reasonably detailed deductions. Profiles of competitors Competitor profiles are a core component of most competitive analysis. Full competitor profiles provide a holistic view of competitors by bringing together the intelligence topics discussed above. Tactical intelligence A high proportion of competitive intelligence exercises are devoted to obtaining tactical intelligence.
Product splits Terms and conditions Sources of raw materials Marketing and promotional activities Distribution channels Export markets Factual intelligence is commonly required quickly to meet an immediate need and there is invariably only a short period of time to carry out the research. enter new segments of a market or defend their position against predators. Monthly tracking surveys are common but to make them worthwhile there must be sufficient change each month to justify the cost and effort of collecting the data. Tracking studies are particularly beneficial when competitive activity is in a state of rapid evolution. Tracking Competitors can be studied either on a one-off basis or by tracking their activities at regular intervals. there invariably comes a stage at which even the most unwary respondents begin to get suspicious. and the decision whether to elevate this to a formal tracking study depends on the amount of change which is occurring or is anticipated. Changes in competitive activity can be triggered not only by the ambitions of the competitors themselves but also by external factors such as the introduction of new technologies and structural changes in the market. and the intensity of competitive activity. In practice most companies monitor the activities of their competitors. Whilst these can be induced to cooperate for a while. at least on an informal basis. The frequency at which the activities of competitors are re-examined in a tracking survey depends on the pace of change and the ability of the company to use the output. This can take the form of new entrants into a market or an increase in competitive aggression by established suppliers because they wish to launch new products. The process normally demands a network of contacts within and outside the target companies. There is little point in collecting information only for it to sit on a database. It is also imperative that systems exist within the company to use the data on a continuous basis. continuous interest is much more difficult to explain. 36 . The main problem with tracking surveys is contact fatigue. Tracking studies not only keep the information current but also permit a continuous realignment of the competitors that are covered and the intelligence that is sought. increase their market share. In such situations one-off analyses are soon out of date. Both of these can create opportunities for significant realignments in the relationships between suppliers and the customer base. Occasional interest in a company can be given some plausible explanation.
The analysis must also take account of major changes in ownership. With strategic intelligence it is also possible to anticipate competitors' actions and provide an opportunity for pre-emptive action. structure and management that may result in changes in objectives and changes in the way in which competitors respond to the market environment. the present and the future. The time dimension in which a high proportion of competitive intelligence activity is focused is the present. The three time dimensions within which intelligence operates are (not surprisingly) the past. Forward looking. It can however be inferred from in-depth analysis of competitors. Intelligence on strategic objectives and how competitors plan to achieve them provides valuable clues to competitors' reactions to situations as they arise. The fundamental objectives of competitive intelligence are to avoid surprises and gain competitive advantage. However. this type of analysis is good only for as long as the past is a guide to what competitors will do in the future. strategic intelligence is easier to discuss than it is to obtain. what they are doing and what they are capable of doing has an immediate value but for most companies it is infinitely more useful to identify their competitors' strategies. Here the intelligence is tactical in nature and is used in the day-today struggle with competitors. The Time Dimension Time is a dimension that is critical to competitive analysis and defines. the difference between the intelligence that can be obtained and the intelligence that is required. 37 . by long-term tracking of the actions they take and by studying the personalities and objectives of the management that run them. These can be achieved only if future actions by competitors can be predicted accurately.Strategic intelligence Knowing who competitors are. The past is straightforward since a high proportion of what happened there is visible. Much of it is visible but may also involve short-term projections to make it more useful. amongst other things. Its importance is that it shows the evolution of competitors' activities and provides source material for making projections. Direct evidence of overall future strategy may exist in management statements but intelligence on the methods by which the strategy will be implemented is invariably fragmentary.
others are extremely difficult or uncooperative. At it is most complex it could involve direct interrogation of competitors' staff. the time and physical resources that are available and the budget. The key skills in all competitive intelligence are the ability to identify the sources that are likely to have the data that are required and the ability to extract them. Seemingly simple intelligence objectives can sometimes prove unusually difficult to fulfil. At its simplest competitive intelligence can involve scanning the national and trade press for news items on competitors and maintaining a watch on their websites. Some are easy to use or access.PART II SOURCES OF COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE UNIT 4 Overview of the Sources of Intelligence Competitive intelligence can be obtained from a wide variety of sources. The basic building blocks 38 . Needless to say. Primary and Secondary Sources The basic division of intelligence sources. complex intelligence-gathering exercises tend to use more resources than those that have more straightforward objectives. Some of the sources are obvious but many are obscure.1. though there is always scope for surprises. The route that is chosen will depend largely on the data that are required. HIGH EXTERNAL SEONDARY SOURCES EXTERNAL PRIMARY SOURCES DETAIL INTERNAL SEONDARY SOURCES INTERNAL PRIMARY SOURCES LOW DEGREE of DIFFICULTY HIGH Figure 4-1. is: Secondary sources containing information in the public domain Primary sources As shown in Figure 4. both secondary and primary sources can exist within and outside the company. the importance attached to having access to the intelligence. as in many other types of research.
records or libraries but they are just as likely to be held by individuals in their own personal filing systems. consultants. The Internet and its powerful search engines have short circuited the entire search and collection process. distributors. Traditionally external secondary sources were found in locations such as public reference libraries or trade associations. Sources that are less direct but also potentially valuable include the staff of organizations whose role provides them with opportunities to observe the activities of competitors. providing they can be identified and contacted within an acceptable timeframe.Secondary sources of intelligence are defined as those that are publicly available. Primary sources are mainly people who are in a position to impart intelligence about companies when questioned. The main requirement is time. as will be shown. the Internet has revolutionized the access to secondary intelligence. With the notable exception of published reports. However. As with secondary sources. secondary sources are generally inexpensive to access and consult. many of which are easy to identify and some that take considerable time and ingenuity to locate. Secondary sources exist within and outside the company. though far from all. This obviously limits the depth to which they can probe but still leaves them with rich veins of intelligence to mine. All competitor analysts rely heavily on secondary sources. relevant intelligence is no more than a few taps on a keyboard away. No longer does the intelligence seeker need to rely on the buying policy of the local or national reference libraries or on the willingness of companies to send brochures and annual reports. and the staff of Chambers of Commerce and other observers of businesses at a national or local level. from the air or even by satellite. journalists. advisers and customers. whilst at the same time making available intelligence from increasingly esoteric and previously unknown sources. trade association staff. These include the staff of competitor companies and the staff of companies that work with them or have some form of business relationship. Within companies secondary sources may be held in databases. A high proportion of. For some they are the only permitted sources of information. There are a wide variety of secondary sources. They include all types of written publications and on-line or disk databases which either report or store information on companies and the business sectors in which they operate. These include analysts. Secondary sources are published or held in databases. the people that have intelligence on competitors include those employed by the company seeking the intelligence as well as those working externally. The most valuable sources are those that have direct experience of competitors' operations. only that they are deemed to be in the 'public domain' and can be accessed by anyone who can make the effort to do so. Determinants of Methods Used The key determinants of the mix of intelligence-gathering techniques that arc deployed are: The characteristics of the intelligence required The depth and detail of intelligence being' sought 39 . This does not mean that they are readily available. They also include direct observations of competitors' activities on the ground. and it is normally preferable to exhaust the internal sources before embarking on any external search. The latter include suppliers. There is no limit to the people from which intelligence can be obtained. Companies that have an above-average sensitivity to antitrust or other legislation on competition regard the use of any information that cannot be collected from publicly available sources as being risky if not outright dangerous.
there is no clear opportunity to obtain intelligence that is proprietary or unique. It is frequently possible to fulfil straightforward intelligence briefs by doing little more than scanning the daily press and trade literature. Lists of contracts and clients are usually partial rather than complete. Reports on the reasons for actions taken arc couched in generalities rather than specifics. considerable amounts of intelligence are available from secondary sources. Financial statements from companies rarely report sales at less than a divisional or product category level leaving the details to be guessed at. The frequency at which intelligence will be collected Tracking competitors' activities poses particular problems for primary research approaches that are not shared by secondary sources. there is ample opportunity to insert contradictions and biases that can mislead those studying their activities. data from published sources will commonly be lacking detail and open to a number of different interpretations. any sustained programme of calling will ultimately draw attention to the fact that the company is being studied. the companies themselves. Secondary data also suffer from the fact that they are normally published after a time delay and lack immediacy. Furthermore. 40 . supply much of the flow of data that can be obtained from secondary sources. secondary sources tend to suffer from a number of deficiencies that are often severe enough to propel intelligence users towards primary sources. secondary source analysis needs to be supplemented by primary research. brochures and websites. reviewing brochures. Normally this results in attempts to eliminate the outflow of information by means of instructions to staff to refuse to answer questions from outsiders. when it is important to know details. Sophisticated intelligence users arc rarely satisfied by data derived from such sources. downloading data off competitors' websites and analysing published financial statements.The frequency at which intelligence will be collected The manpower available The time that is available The budget available The characteristics of the intelligence required As will be shown in subsequent chapters. plans arc described in outline terms leaving out any details of how they could be achieved. analysts' briefings. Although control of the data is far from perfect. Similarly. All competitive intelligence gatherers have experienced a shutdown. If an overview is all that is required a profile based on secondary sources may be adequate. however. The examination of secondary sources is invisible to the staff of the target company itself. the point at which it becomes evident that respondents are suspicious and will no longer answer questions. and it normally happens when they have been pushing their luck and calling too frequently. through press releases. The depth and detail of intelligence being sought For wholly understandable reasons. Nevertheless. Primary contacts are not and whilst it is normally possible to make successful direct contacts for a limited amount of time. but it is wrong to assume that all requirements require more than a rigorous secondary search. The main weakness is that secondary data are available to all who choose to collect them and although there is room for approaches and interpretations that arc more creative than others.
For more extensive programmes they rely on a budget being made available to employ external intelligence gatherers. Apart from planning and set-up time they depend on the availability of people to speak to. especially when available on the Internet. a high proportion of intelligence users rely on a single staff member to carry out all parts of the intelligence process. time is as important a resource as manpower and budget. Data found in the earlier stages guides the direction of subsequent research activity. interpret them and disseminate the results to those who will use them. They may extend the range of their intelligence gathering by briefing and debriefing the company's sales and marketing staff. there are severe limits on what they can be expected to achieve. even when carried out by internal resources. Manpower available The choice of techniques is critically dependent on the resources that can be committed to intelligence gathering. Key information sources cannot be accessed at will and it can take several days. The premium on timeliness can restrict the intelligence-gathering approach to those research activities that can be carried out quickly or to a monitoring process that ensures that all useful items are collected immediately they are reported. In the relatively rare cases in which competitive intelligence is a major activity. primary intelligence-gathering approaches require more time to set up and complete. to track them down. Primary intelligence gathering is rarely cheap. Budget availability Intelligence costs money but some approaches cost more than others. The time that is available In all research. Companies that place. Although they may be able to co-opt other staff members into the intelligence programme for specific assignments.Although there are multiple sources of information within and outside companies. especially when an industry exhibition or conference brings them into contact with the staff of competitors. Although secondary sources can be consulted quickly. This chapter begins with some reflections on how iteration should be conducted in the light of criticism of the traditional intelligence cycle. penetrate voicemail systems and overcome defensive secretaries and personal assistants. longterm intelligence programmes need to use primary research techniques sparingly or innovatively in order to remain below the threshold of activity that will set alarm bells ringing. teams of analysts are available to collect raw data. if not weeks. Refining the Search Research is an iterative process. Small internal intelligence teams tend to rely on a limited range of secondary sources which over time have been shown to be the most fruitful and the most cost-effective to access. Then it goes on to consider some of the options available to analysts once an initial search has yielded some results. including making comparisons between competing hypotheses and testing the validity of conclusions by dropping or reversing the assumptions underlying 41 .a high value on accurate and timely competitive intelligence are usually prepared to allocate sufficient budget to ensure that the most productive approaches can be used. This is particularly true in competitive intelligence where information on competitors' activities that have already happened has already lost a high proportion of its usefulness. largely because they take longer to complete and require higher levels of skill. However.
but is less satisfactory when applied to solving complex. A network-centric architecture for handling intelligence issues clearly offers many advantages over one in which analysts work in secluded isolation. Instead they treat it as an organizing concept and are aware that research is not only an iterative process. believing a rather jagged version captures better the interactive nature of the process. The chapter ends by offering some guidelines (drawing upon analogies in the field of medical research) for deciding to abandon inconclusive research. The traditional intelligence cycle begins by determining intelligence needs. Constantly badgering busy colleagues will erode their goodwill. then acquiring. organizing and analyzing the information needed to derive conclusions. Thus Robert Clarke argues that developments in information technology have made this model increasingly inappropriate. Clark gives a number of examples of companies that have adopted a network-centric framework for solving problems (a development supported and accelerated by the availability of web technology for participants to communicate and manage information). encompassing the insights and guidance of their colleagues and users and changing direction in response to their feedback.them. I have already emphasized the value of networking. Thus groups within Royal Dutch Shell. He rightly states their contribution is actually more one of synthesizing a diversity of information than analyzing it in the sense of breaking it down. whose networks also include allies from outside the company. have been practicing this approach for many years. This augments the range of expertise being brought to bear on intelligence problems and eases the information overload confronting analysts by doing some of the initial sifting to extract the significant elements from data and screen out the unimportant. It also excludes the users of CI from involvement in the process apart from the first stage (defining intelligence needs) until the very end (presentation of analyst's conclusions). In Clark's approach the role of the analyst becomes more of a facilitator and process manager for a network drawn from many different disciplines and functional areas. In reality I believe that CI analysts (certainly good ones) do not slavishly follow the traditional model in practice. but also an interactive one. I once observed an analyst at a client's who kept up what was virtually a running commentary on his work. The goal is to create a body of intelligence that they both contribute to and draw from. with the dissemination of these to users as the final link in the chain. with more participation by users throughout the CI process. This works well for simple problems. He instead favours a new. Some CI authorities have questioned its validity under contemporary conditions. non-linear ones. For this reason I have not used the usual neatly circular representation of the intelligence cycle in this book. 'target-centric' model. Being interrupted by the colleague's excited announcements every time he 42 . Instead of all the analysis being carried out by CI staff the users supply analytical insights (as well as raw data) based on their specialist knowledge and resources. It follows a linear path from posing the problem through to finding the solution. It is also worth noting that the CI practitioner has to exercise common sense when seeking this.
For example. Information obtained in the first phase of research may support a theory. may be convincingly refuted very quickly. More commonly a lengthy process of gathering and examining evidence must be followed before a premise is disproved (or proved).Data gathering Initial evaluation Plan Analysis Conclusions Checking. This suggested that the firm should become a lower priority target for the client's sales efforts. Further testing is needed before the hypothesis can be accepted as validated. had to tell him to cease his broadcasts to the rest of the office and that she wanted updates only once a day unless he found something of genuinely immediate import. who described him as 'like a frisky puppy that's constantly snapping at your heels'. Subsequent research revealed that the division's premises had recently been redecorated (only two years after they were last 43 . as noted earlier. In the end his manager. if on initial supposition that a particular technology was unique and a patent for it held by another party is found. the original belief was clearly incorrect. In his answers to questions from the floor this divisional chief placed heavy emphasis on its far greater future importance to the firm. as illustrated by the following case study. Handling initial research results A hypothesis. gap filling. The first indication of this potential shift came from the appearance as a speaker at an industry conference (attended by a representative of our client) by the fairly recently appointed head of the (until now) secondary division within the prospective customer. CASE OF AN ERRONEOUS HYPOTHESIS A client's major potential customer was believed to be planning a significant shift in emphasis away from its traditional core business in favour of a hitherto relatively secondary line of business (one where our client's products and services were irrelevant). challenging Communicate Figure 6-2 Interactive model of the intelligence production process found a new piece of information soon became highly annoying. but still not prove it.
In fact the company's directors had decided to try and sell the division. but also downright misleading. . However. one of its customers stated that. Further research activity was consequently directed at gathering material that would confirm or undermine the new theory that the parent company intended I to dispose of it.the original hypothesis now looked decidedly shaky. nevertheless served as the ladder for climbing to the truth. having been somewhat lax in terms of chasing the payment of invoices. One of the division's competitors stated that there were rumours that it was up for sale. An analyst can become so intellectually (and even emotionally) committed to a cherished hypothesis that they fail to consider alternative explanations of their evidence and simply ignore new data ('we'll forget about that silly "up for sale" thing . he was an internal appointee who took over the post when the former head left at the normal retirement age. they all supported it. The address presumably represented the 'party line' agreed by senior management. Either of these would be much more likely to indicate a new strategic direction for the division than the routine replacement of its boss. If the analysts conducting it had not been willing to explore alternative theories to account for the original evidence before them. while not only wrong. None of these pieces of evidence refuted the hypothesis of a larger role for the division: indeed. what about the remarks of the divisional chief at the conference? Consulting the actual text of his address revealed no statements that a much greater role for the division was planned.it's only a rumour after all'). In the light of new data . If the latter had quit before retiring or had been replaced by a high-flying outsider these might have been indications that the ex-chief had been ousted or that a 'new broom' had been brought in. Sprucing up the premises. while the much stronger remarks made in response to questions were merely the expression of the divisional chief’s personal views. rather than less attractive sales target for our client. The original hypothesis. This example is cautionary as well as encouraging. Its new chief was opposed to this and his comments reflected his defensive feelings regarding its (and his own) future and a desire to quash rumours that it was to be sold. Then a new piece of information was uncovered. it had started pressing for prompt payment and there had been an unusual flurry of I activity in filing patents relating to its products. The division was eventually disposed of. their conclusion ('this potential client is going to be less attractive.and the re-examination of existing evidence . Furthermore. 44 . thus providing the parent company with extra funds to invest in its mainstream businesses and making it a more. give it lower priority as a sales target than before') would have been positively damaging if acted upon. trying to speed cash flow and ensuring that its intellectual property was fully protected would also be sensible steps if that were true.painted).
Perhaps the subsidiary was a good business to start with. However. We viewed their later attribution of its troubles to the IT setback as just an excuse to mask more general weakness in the division. This discipline involves the simultaneous evaluation of several theories rather than their sequential development. This has the merit of avoiding becoming over-committed to the 'correct' hypothesis and ignoring other possibilities. leaving orders unfulfilled and leading to a loss of customers. it was replaced by the premise 'they plan to sell this division'. Given our lack of data at that stage this could well be a plausible explanation of what had happened. Again the flurry of patent filings might extend across the whole group and might have been actually provoked by the loss of intellectual property through another division being slow to file. When this was undermined. there might have been other explanations of the data. One way of doing this is to construct a matrix setting out the various hypotheses and seeing which pieces of evidence support or refute them. so its original owners wanted to be rid of it and were delighted when the acquirers took it off their hands. culminating in it being proved when the disposal was publicly announced. This subsidiary had been bought from another global firm some four years before. Another approach is to use competing hypothesis analysis 3. However. Another possibility was that the division was well managed on the whole and was brought low simply because of the computer problems. the initial reasoning centred on 'they plan to give a hitherto secondary line of business a much larger role'. we also tabled some alternative scenarios. The next stage was to match the evidence to each hypothesis and marshal these in a matrix. In this case the belief that the division would be offered for sale received growing support as additional evidence was uncovered. although it was only a couple of years since the last redecoration. In this example. 45 . This provides a quick visual check on the degree of support each theory receives from the data (although it is a simplification in that it does not assign weights to the different kinds of evidence depending on their significance and reliability). but went awry due to general mismanagement in the same year as the IT disaster. Perhaps the new divisional chief and his colleagues hated the decor chosen by his predecessor so much that they decided to replace it. An example of applying the technique concerns a division of a multinational company which caused serious damage to its parent when its new IT system crashed. The more robust approach to chasing invoices may be the company-wide initiative undertaking following a review of the accounting function by external consultants and not just confined to this particular division.Competing hypothesis analysis Analysts normally consider hypotheses in sequence. Our initial working hypothesis was that the unit was a poor business. even allowing for the divisional head's comments being a personal view rather than company policy.
Nothing else went significantly wrong. Once again 46 . Good business in general . and expanding in scale when sold: Refutes theory that business was no good when sold Supports hypotheses concerned with post-sale performance. Although no weights are assigned to the categories of evidence it is pretty clear that the initial hypothesis was wrong and the IT debacle seriously damaged an otherwise well-run company. irrelevant to hypothesis' EVIDENCE 1: PRE-ACQUISITION FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE Division trading profitably. profits. apart from its IT.Hypothesis Evidence Evidence Evidence 2 I 3 1. albeit unexcitingly so. Good business to start with – but later mismanaged + + - 3.IT disaster specifically to blame + means 'refutes hypothesis' 'supports hypothesis' + + + NA 'not applicable. during the crisis year: Refutes the idea that it was suddenly afflicted by more widespread problems Supports the hypothesis that the IT failure was the crucial factor in its fall-off in performance. This is obviously a greatly simplified version of our matrix. Bad business from start - - NA 2. EVIDENCE 3: PERFORMANCE OF NON-IT ASPECTS OF BUSINESS DURING CRISIS YEAR This is irrelevant to the pre-sale state of the subsidiary. EVIDENCE 2: POST-ACQUISITION FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE Division continued to expand sales. but had fundamental weaknesses Supports hypotheses that it only went wrong later. profit margins and return on assets after being acquired: Refutes theory that business may have looked good when sold. yet it shows the value of matching hypotheses against the different types of evidence.
but this failure only goes to illustrate the great value of the linchpin approach to testing the reliability of intelligence. is inferior to our encyclopaedia Therefore their entry into this sector will increase the total size of the market. Linchpin analysis is an attempt to counter such dangerous complacency by removing or reversing one of the key assumptions 'lynchpins' underlying the existing analysis. whether military or business. but have little impact on our part of it.a hypothesis even though incorrect.' 'It flourished subsequently because new management actually turned it around. Lynchpin analysis The conclusions reached by analysts rest upon a set of beliefs. Developed by Douglas MacEachin. Hence: 'The business looked good when sold. It has particular value in weighing up future outcomes (which is the main thrust of CI) where confirmation is only possible after the event.' 'They suddenly lost focus. these can become so prevalent and long-held that they eventually become accepted as 'what is known' and thus unchallenged. a senior CIA officer in the 1990s. This makes it more difficult to remain wedded to an erroneous initial idea. The company would have recognized that the new entrant threatened to seize a worryingly large tranche of its customer base and had more time to take the initiative with countermeasures. but also takes other possibilities into account and shows why they are less plausible. instead of having to react very late in the day under the pressure of having already lost half of its customers between 1990 and] 9965 47 . has served as the engine of enquiry that leads to the truth being uncovered.'a significant proportion of our market is at risk because customers will be prepared to buy a product that is good enough for their needs.would have radically changed the analytical logic. is the finest in quality Our customers are willing to pay for quality and are firmly loyal Microsoft's Encarta. It was clearly not employed vigorously enough by those sections of the CIA involved in assessing Iraqi weapons capability. To reverse the assumption of customer loyalty . As has been noted earlier. So competing hypothesis analysis provides more compelling analytical judgments as it not only sets out the evidence and logic underpinning them. if offered it at a much lower price' . even if it is not the best on the market. lots of things went wrong and the IT debacle the best excuse on offer. In the case of Encyclopaedia Britannica referred to in Chapter I. In this case the process has been more rigorous because rival theories have been matched in competition. although much cheaper. One can well imagine an analyst considering just one hypothesis dismissing contrary evidence. applying this technique should help the user avoid 'intelligence myopia'. the lynchpins of the producer's market view were: Our product.' Such warping of the evidence is more likely when there is only a single explanation on offer. while expensive. but that was due to creative accounting.
Knowing when to stop Medical research offers a number of useful lessons for CL First, theories are crucially important in providing platforms to support the superstructure of research, with even erroneous hypotheses serving as tools for discovering the truth. Second, medical research efforts are concentrated on what are viewed as the most promising lines of enquiry and not dissipated in scattered 'let's see what happens' research initiatives. Third, a ruthless preparedness to drop research projects which are not making headway. This is an attitude researchers in other fields find hard to adopt. They become emotionally and intellectually committed to their pet project and hate having to write off the effort and expense that have been invested in it. This phenomenon occurs so often that the term analysis paralysis has been coined to describe it. Economic rationality, however, demands the objective approach of refusing to throw good money after bad. Persistence, as I have stated earlier, is one of the qualities of a good researcher, so knowing when to stop goes against the grain for such dedicated people. However, resources for research are always rationed and should not be diverted to the pursuit of lost causes, while the research process is as subject to the law of diminishing returns as any other. Considerations to be taken into account before abandoning a line of research would include: How important is finding the information? We should obviously be less willing to give up on an issue that may be vital to our firm or client than one which would be merely 'nice to know'. Would getting the answer prove or disprove our hypotheses? How confident are we of obtaining the information eventually? In the case of market sizing and analysis, what percentage of the market do our results not cover? If it is, say over 80 per cent, they should be good enough to base management action on, with the extra costs in extending coverage probably not worth incurring.
CASE OF IT BEING SENSIBLE TO STOP SEARCHING
The dogged pursuit of an untenable project is stupidity father than a virtue. Some years ago I was commissioned to write an article on tax havens for a leading accountancy journal. My thesis was that companies locate in these jurisdictions because they want to: Reduce their tax liability Preserve confidentiality.
The first reason was obvious, but the second had not been written up. I started interviewing executives of companies with parents based in havens such as the British Virgin Islands or Netherlands Antilles. After a few of these encounters not a single interviewee had been prepared to admit, even off the record, that the secrecy aspect might have influenced their decision to incorporate their parent company) in a minimal disclosure jurisdiction. It was, of course, possible that if I had conducted a lot more interviews I might have found someone who was \\illing to accept this suggestion. On the basis of my experience so far this looked extreme) unlikely. So I outlined the results I had been getting and the prognosis to the editor, who kindly allowed me to rewrite the article from another angle. I was hardly overjoyed to have spent a fair amount of time on fruitless interviews, but would have been much more dismayed if I had not called a halt to a futile enquiry - even if the editor had refused to accept anything other than the original commission.
Types of Intelligence Financial intelligence Most profiles include an assessment of the financial performance of subject companies. This can be relatively straightforward in the case of all public companies, subsidiaries and privately held companies in Europe that have to place copies of their reports and accounts with the relevant authorities. It is also feasible when a regulatory authority publishes key performance data for the companies still active in the business it is regulating, as is commonly the case for utilities and telecommunications. However, it is far more difficult in the case of private companies in the USA, for divisions of companies or for specific locations as well as for both the private and public sector organizations in India. One of the most challenging tasks for a competitive intelligence analyst is to construct a profit-and-loss account for a business unit, for which no published financial data exist, relying exclusively on an analysis of sales and estimates of costs. Hard data on competitors' detailed cost structures are rarely obtained as they are rightly regarded as highly confidential. The peripheral data that might be expected to provide important clues to a cost structure can usually be interpreted in a number of different ways. Accountancy is far more of an art than a science and even the competitors themselves will employ different conventions when accounting for their performance, depending on what they are trying to prove. There are of course some facts that cannot be easily distorted and that are worth having. Legitimate targets can include the prices paid by competitors for their raw materials or their energy, wage levels, other (non-wage) costs of employment, manning levels, production efficiencies, selling and marketing costs and outsourcing costs, all of which can provide important insight into subsidiary or divisional profitability, but no amount of analysis will provide some of the key items, such as depreciation charges, that would permit the construction of an accurate Profit & Loss Statement.
Technical intelligence In manufacturing companies technical intelligence includes the study of competitors' products, technology, manufacturing processes, research and development and technical support, all of which make major contributions to the ability of a company to compete effectively now and in the future. In service businesses it is the basis of the service offer and the methods by which the service is to be delivered that need to be studied. Sales and marketing intelligence The study of a competitor's sales record including an analysis or segments serviced, customers won and lost, market share and sales volumes provides a clear indication of performance. An analysis of marketing resources, processes, procedures and routes to market coupled with a measurement of the volume (and cost) of marketing activity, provides a highly visible barometer of where a company is directing its effort and the intensity with which it is pursuing its sales objectives. Analysis of the language used in advertisements and promotional literature can also indicate how the competitor sees itself and tells something of the culture that is prevailing within the organization. The study of marketing activities can be extended to cover the results of the process in terms of the customer base the company has succeeded in acquiring and its key accounts. The analysis can be taken further to consider the awareness of competitors, the relationship between competitors and their client bases, satisfaction with competitors' performance, the levels of client loyalty and the image of competitors in the marketplace. Pricing and discount intelligence Price is one of the key elements in the competitive battle and although competing on price is widely regarded as an admission of failure, it may nevertheless be the final arbiter of who wins the business. Prices are either extremely easy or extremely difficult to collect. Those that are displayed or published can be easily observed but where prices are tendered more sophisticated methods are required in order to obtain them. Discounts to retail and wholesale channels, for volume purchases or to encourage particular target customer groups may also be largely invisible but still a significant factor in the supplier selection process. . People intelligence The methods by which companies compete, the intensity of competitive action and the use that is made of the range of physical and financial assets owned by companies are dependent entirely on people, especially key decision-makers such as owners, management and advisers. To understand competitors it is therefore imperative to know as much as possible about the history and motivation of the management that drive decisions and the calibre and experience of the staff that have to implement them. It is also necessary to know the pressures that are being placed on the company from external sources. Owners, be they individuals or parent companies, bankers, auditors, management consultants and partner companies can all exert pressure or provide advice that influences the objectives of competitors and the actions they take to achieve them.
Operational intelligence Operational intelligence covers the way in which competitors are organised, staffing levels, staff efficiency, and the ways in which the company makes decisions, partnerships and the prevailing culture within the company. Much of this intelligence can be used for benchmarking and providing an explanation for variances in financial performance. Customer intelligence The methods by which companies target the existing and the potential customers, the intensity of competitive action are dependent entirely on customer behaviour, especially in the consumer driven retail market segments. To understand competitors it is imperative, therefore, to know as much as possible about the profile and behaviour of the customer that drive buying decisions. It is also necessary to know the pressures of the latent demand that are being generated from consumer segments.
UNIT 5 Secondary Sources of Intelligence
As explained in the previous chapter, secondary sources are normally the first to be consulted in intelligence-gathering programmes. They vary in usefulness, timeliness and accuracy but they represent a relatively low-cost and sometimes a reasonably comprehensive method of acquiring intelligence. This chapter is not intended to provide a detailed listing of sources. Such guides do exist and are referred to in the text where applicable. The intention is to provide a reasonably complete description of generic groups of sources, thereby showing the directions in which researchers should be aiming their efforts. Even this limited objective will be difficult to achieve given the variety of sources that exist. Many sources are specific to industry sectors and using the guidelines set out in this chapter it will be the reader's task to locate them for themselves.
Internal Intelligence Sources
The first sources to be consulted should be those that are available within the company. Even organizations that have not invested in a corporate library will have amassed a wealth of information about their competitors. The problem is finding it. The intelligence audit The intelligence audit is a process for discovering the intelligence that is available from internal sources. It regards intelligence as a key corporate asset that needs to be identified and put to work just like any other physical asset the company has invested in. The main difference between intelligence and physical assets is that the company has not always made a conscious decision to acquire intelligence. Much of what is valuable has been obtained as a by-product of other activities, such as selling, and resides in various parts of the organisation, not in some central repository where it can be easily accessed. The objectives of an audit are to: Identify all sources and potential sources of intelligence within the company Categorise the intelligence by type, relevance and quality Collect and examine the intelligence that they can provide Establish the sources from which the intelligence was obtained Check the credentials of the sources (are they qualified to provide the intelligence?) Check the veracity of the intelligence Establish whether the intelligence can be updated or extended The audit should cover fixed and renewable sources of intelligence. Fixed sources include one-off documents, books, files and reports that have been compiled or commissioned. They provide intelligence covering a finite period of time. Their usefulness decays from the moment they are completed until such time as they become
R&D could keep files of patents registered by competitors and articles describing competitors' technologies. They include data feeds. Trade association reports and statistics Membership of an industry or trade association offers a significant benefit for competitive intelligence in the form of reports and statistics. either gleaned directly from discussions with fellow production staff or from sales representatives promoting their products on the basis that they are used by competitors. It also provides a forum in 53 . on-line databases and competitor websites. press clippings. Library files Not all companies have them but where a corporate information officer or a company librarian exists they are likely to be a significant source of intelligence. The following types of internal sources should be included in the intelligence audit. subscriptions to journals and the trade press. A good company library should carry out all official statistics covering the business in which the company operates. over time. copies of annual reports and other official filings. It is impossible to run an effective information centre without being highly organized and the information that is collected therefore is easily accessible in files and databases. Renewable sources of intelligence are those which are automatically updated. company annual reports. As. trade statistics. new fixed sources become available. promotional pieces. market research reports can contain useful data. These files commonly cover the market and the competitors active within it and are likely to include competitors' brochures and catalogues. notices of appointments. they need to be added to the available resource. Typically they can include: Market share analysis Distribution channels used by competitors Key accounts of competitors Customer satisfaction with competitors An analysis of customers’ perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of competitors’ products and service levels Staff files Staff members with an outward-facing role often keep files of information which they have collected for their personal or general use. information officers invariably collect a wealth of information about the companies that are active in the company's business sector. newsletters. brokers' reports and other privately compiled reports on competitors. In the course of providing an information service covering all types of information required to operate the company. They offer the ability to update the intelligence on competitors' activities on a regular basis or when a special analysis is required.completely out of date and worth retaining for historical reasons only. other official filings made by the competitor companies and brokers’ reports on those of the competitors whose shares are publicly traded. Market research reports Although commissioned for purposes other than competitive intelligence. Production staff may collect information about the production equipment and processes used by competitors. Other functions that could carry information on competitors are research and development and production staff.
Reports show the general state of the business. leavers and joiners. new product developments. though. this can be an intensely frustrating exercise. 'if I cannot find the exact data I am seeking. “If I cannot find the exact data I am seeking. Sales representatives' reports Sales representatives have direct and indirect contact with the staff of competitors. what is the closest I can get. as most researchers will admit. Sifting through articles in endless issues of trade magazines may yield no useful intelligence but is carried on in the hope that a nugget of information is eventually located. Sifting through articles in endless issues of trade magazines may yield no useful intelligence but is carried on in the hope that a nugget of information is eventually located. what will act as a surrogate or are there some overall data that will enable me to make an informed guess?' 54 . this can be an intensely frustrating exercise. This does not invalidate their usefulness but means that they must be supplemented by reference to external sources. The sales reporting process can therefore provide trade gossip about competitors. As hinted several times. The intelligence mind must be trained to think along the lines.which competitors can be met officially (about which more later). what is the closest I can get. the reasons why competitors are winning or losing business. there are vast arrays of sources that can be consulted. External Secondary Sources Internal secondary sources are likely to have their limits. what will act as a surrogate or are there some overall data that will enable me to make an informed guess?” Internal secondary sources are likely to have their limits. Unless carefully orchestrated by an efficient intelligence officer who has been working to a plan of intelligence requirements. The frustration is heightened by the fact that the task cannot be delegated to junior staff since they may not recognise useful intelligence. they are likely to be patchy in their coverage and biased towards the specific interests of those collecting the data. It is essential that the coverage of potential sources of intelligence is comprehensive but at the same time the amount of intelligence that is extracted from each source may be little or none. They often know their opposite numbers in competitor companies and also hear about competitors' activities from customers. as most researchers will admit. intelligence on competitors' sales and technical staff. The intelligence mind must be trained to think along the lines. This does not invalidate their usefulness but means that they must be supplemented by reference to external sources. there are vast arrays of sources that can be consulted. Trade association statistics show the total sales of members and may provide evidence of the sales of individual suppliers. though. product and service problems and the culture within competitive organisations. analyze trends and provide news of members. they are likely to be patchy in their coverage and biased towards the specific interests of those collecting the data. It is essential that the coverage of potential sources of intelligence is comprehensive but at the same time the amount of intelligence that is extracted from each source may be little or none. Unless carefully orchestrated by an efficient intelligence officer who has been working to a plan of intelligence requirements. The frustration is heightened by the fact that the task cannot be delegated to junior staff since they may not recognise useful intelligence. As hinted several times.
These data are particularly useful for tracing relationships between companies. the reporting requirements may be extended to include a list of directors showing their dates of appointment. they include: 55 . The annual reports are in part sales documents designed to maintain the company's share price but. Indian companies must also file annual statutory reports with the Registrar of Companies containing considerably more information than that contained in the average Indian annual report. No company can be silent about its activities and although most are fully aware that their documents will fall into the hands of their competitors there is nothing they can do to conceal their activities without jeopardizing their chances of winning business or falling foul of the authorities. Obtaining copies of private company reports and accounts may require a visit to the location at which the accounts are held. There is a significant difference regarding the information that is available between public and private companies. an auditor's report. The key sources to be collected and examined are the following. Their usefulness varies from country to country but the extent to which they can distort the facts is minimal even though the amount they reveal can be controlled. they can provide a good amount of insight into its activities across its product ranges and its divisions. The reporting requirements for privately owned companies are less onerous and although in Europe private companies must file accounts with various national and local agencies. These comprise a minimum of a directors' report. The published glossy reports on European companies tend to be fairly full in their coverage whereas in the United States they are little more than a chairman's statement. home address. in addition to detailed financial information. However. basic accounts and a number of colour photographs. Copies of reports and accounts can be obtained from the companies themselves or from the relevant authority with which they are tiled. nationality and other directorships held. The former have to conform to regulations on disclosure. Stock exchange and SEC filings Listed joint stock companies must furnish an annual report to shareholders that includes statements about the company's business. Depending on the country. in the USA they do not. which force them to reveal considerable amounts of information about their activities to their various stakeholders particularly in the USA. The company also provides a full set of accounts for the scrutiny of the shareholders. its operational performance and its future plans. Annual reports and accounts All limited liability companies must produce an annual set of audited accounts for tax purposes and to comply with legal reporting requirements. and notes to the accounts. a profit and loss account. In the UK this is Companies House but in other European countries the reports may be filed either with a national authority or with a local body in the region in which the company is registered.Official company filings The most direct intelligence on competitors is gained from sources prepared and published by themselves for statutory reporting or for promotional purposes. depending on the company. The official filings are generally well-known and are invariably on the shopping lists of competitor analysts. the allotment of shares and the ultimate holding company. Typically. a balance sheet.
The most common event is an acquisition. much or which finds its way into the financial press for easy access. companies must issue a prospectus. pollution. The extent to which detailed planning applications are published varies from country to country but where obtainable they provide direct evidence of competitors' production plans and capacities. Major defence operations yield considerably more information than uncontested bids. the processes to be used and the equipment to be installed. Planning applications Planning applications must be made for all new premises and extensions to existing premises. Company documents Promotional documents. Additional information must be made available to shareholders when major changes to the company's business are proposed. Since their primary audience is customers their accuracy is virtually guaranteed though it is often necessary to cut 56 . This is a legal document drawn up by the company and its advisers and provides a statement of the company's business in sufficient depth to inform potential or current shareholders about the nature and value of the investment and the risks to which investors are exposed. They may therefore seek to minimise the damage by being as vague as the regulations will permit and disperse information so that it is difficult to pull together a complete picture. A prospectus is also a sales document but it cannot contain misleading statements. Prospectuses Prior to a new public issue of shares or a private placement. Companies are of course aware that the most avid readers of their annual reports and other filings are their competitors. They are normally available at the office at which the company is registered and can be obtained from the company itself or its financial adviser. refuse. technical data sheets and directory entries provide detailed intelligence on competitors' products and services. which places an obligation on the acquirer to state why the acquisition is proposed and on the target company to state why a bid should be accepted or rejected. This must be done with care since the readers for which reports are really intended are the shareholders and their advisers and by being over-zealous in trying to protect information they may also create an unfavourable impression of the company and have an adverse effect on their share price. waste water. Critical subjects for planning authorities are the effects of an application on the local environment.Company history Profiles or the key executives The markets in which the company is operating A statement on competition A review of trading conditions Product developments Properties Acquisitions Sales of assets Remuneration and pension schemes The companies also provide quarterly financial data and an abbreviated version of the data contained in the statutory filings.
Directories. The entries are nevertheless useful since they tend to describe the new products or technologies currently of interest to the supplier and therefore on display. new products being launched. Whilst these reviews are normally designed to highlight the role (and success) of the regulatory agency itself. The main documents that can be obtained are the following. the reports can contain data on the level of activity in the sector and the performance of the regulated coq1panies. They may also contain reference data on past clients in the form of lists or endorsements. Company house journals and newsletters House journals and newsletters are intended for customers and employees and are a means of disseminating information about the company. They can obtain detailed technical information and performance data plus a description of the support services and service levels that are provided. buyers' guides and exhibition catalogues Directories and buyers' guides are useful as sources on products available from all or most of those suppliers who are active in a market. House journals can also carry articles that prove managers' perspectives on the development of their business and the issues that they consider are important now and in the future. new appointments (from within and from outside). are subject to frequent reviews. changes in the organisational structure. The sectors that are most frequently subject to regulation are: 57 . The personnel related items can provide intelligence about the culture prevailing within the company. Catalogues Catalogues are useful for obtaining information on the product ranges that are available from competitors and the key parameters of each product type. Directories must always be treated with caution. Regulatory authority reports Industries that are regulated. office moves and new manufacturing and warehousing locations. Brochures Brochures provide the standard descriptions of products and product families that are available from suppliers. The catalogues from exhibitions will also contain omissions to the extent that companies choose not to exhibit. new processes being used. Whilst these may be billed as personal views rather than official company policy they nevertheless provide insight into the thinking within the organization. notably those that were formerly in government ownership or are deemed to be in need of regulation in the public interest. profiles of key managers. which may ultimately influence company actions. Entries based on forms completed by companies themselves commonly exaggerate the range of products they offer whereas those for which payment is required to enter will rarely be comprehensive. Success stories commonly feature in these publications thereby providing intelligence on the identity of and relationship with key customers. Their accuracy depends on the care with which they are compiled and the frequency at which they are revised.through a level of hyperbole in order to access the facts.
Telecommunications Transport Power utilities Water Brokers' reports The analysts working in stockbrokers' research departments and competitive intelligence analysts are kindred spirits. Although the reasons for their research are different much of the output is similar. Stockbrokers' analysts cover only quoted companies and are biased towards a financial evaluation. However, they have to take into account product ranges and new product development, new production technologies, the market and competition in order to draw conclusions about future earnings levels. Their main usefulness to competitive intelligence analysts is that their reports are based on briefings they receive from companies. They are also able to question the corporate staff. The reports they issue to investors and the recommendations they make regarding the future of share prices and whether they should be purchased, sold or held, are of vital interest to the companies themselves. Investor relations departments and company secretaries are therefore highly motivated to provide them with information and it is rare for them to issue statements that are misleading. Brokers' reports are easy to obtain and since it is common for a number of analysts to follow the same company there is usually a selection to draw from. Credit reporting agencies The reports issued by credit reporting agencies, such as Dun & Bradstreet in the United States, ICRA in India, are of greatest value when dealing with private companies. Credit reports are designed to reassure suppliers and clients that the company is safe to deal with. They analyse companies' payment records by questioning a sample of suppliers. The data can often provide advanced warnings of cash or trading problems when payments become stretched. Whereas they may add little to the information that is publicly available on public companies, for private companies they are frequently able to provide sales information not contained in other sources, ownership details and management comments on performance. Financial databases Examples of these are the financial databases held by Dun & Bradstreet and its various worldwide subsidiaries, Indian financial institutions like www.indiainfoline.com, www.hdfcsec.com, and national sources such as ICC and Jordans in the UK. Financial databases are of most use in screening companies. The depth of information they provide is limited but their coverage can be massive. Company histories Company histories appear as one-off books commissioned by the companies themselves, in pamphlets issued by public relations departments and in compendiums, such as the International Directory of Company Histories which covers over 2500 companies. The origins and development of a company can have a defining influence on current strategy if only through the culture that has been instilled as a result.
Published media Published media of all types are key sources for competitive intelligence. Their main value is that they carry a large amount of information and that it is relatively timely. The disadvantage is that news coverage is rarely comprehensive, can be heavily influenced by companies themselves and when it appears in the press it is available to everybody. The national and local press Newspapers and journals provide coverage of a broad spectrum of company and business news including: All types of news events relating to individual companies Commentaries on companies' performance Industry-wide information and reviews Technical developments Information on, and profiles of, management Joiners and leavers Job opportunities Legal notices published to comply with local laws and regulations The articles are drawn from news items released by companies themselves, interviews, investigations, technical and conference papers and commentaries prepared by journalists and others with an interest in the business. Large quoted companies receive a disproportional amount of coverage in the national press, but smaller companies can be of equal interest to the local press servicing the communities in which they operate. The financial press, such as the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, is of particular interest for competitive intelligence since it focuses on the activities of companies. Business journals Key business journals, such as The Economist, Fortune, Forbes and Business Week, and to a lesser extent the news journals, such as Time, are all likely to contain items covering the affairs of specific companies. They are most likely to appear in such journals when they have done something extraordinary or have suffered some grave misfortune, events which are also likely to have picked up by the national and trade press. Nevertheless, there is a chance that their more investigative approach to journalism will uncover facts not reported in the daily press. . The trade press There are trade press magazines covering almost every business. Some are relatively general and others are highly specific. The only criteria that determine whether there is a viable opportunity for a trade magazine are the number of potential readers and the number of potential advertisers wishing to reach them. If the advertising revenues that can be obtained cover the costs and yield an adequate profit, then a magazine is likely to be produced. Once launched, trade magazines need a .c6ntinuous flow of news, feature articles and editorial matter and act as a magnet to the news stories emanating from companies. They can therefore be counted upon to record most of the significant events in the sectors they cover.
Trade magazines fall into three categories, all of which need to be covered in competitive intelligence exercises. The first arc those devoted to a particular- business sector. These are the most specialized but are likely to record all that happens in the sector in the way of product launches, company events, sector events (such as trade shows and exhibitions) and the movement of people. The second are manufacturing technique-related, such as welding or process control, and cover developments in the technique in all industry sectors that use it. The third are subject-related, such as marketing, advertising or human relations, and cover the subject as it applies to all manufacturing and service sectors. Articles containing competitive intelligence can appear in all three types of magazine. Professional journals Professional journals are the official publications of professional societies. The articles they publish tend to be more 'worthy' than those in the trade press and are accepted on the basis that they advance professional knowledge and practice. However, many of the members of professional societies are working in companies and the articles they write often expose internal company practices. Academic and semi-academic publications The academic press, such as the Harvard Business Review, and semi academic journals such as the McKinsey Quarterly, published by the consultancy company, frequently contain case studies relating to the use of management techniques by companies and interviews with management about how their companies are run. The insights these can provide into the strategic directions being pursued by the subject companies are sometimes substantially more enlightening than those providing the information intended. Industry newsletters Industry newsletters are commonly a compendium of information on a business sector derived from secondary sources. Although they may contain original information, their main use is as a short-cut to what is generally available in other sources. Conference papers Most of the papers delivered at conferences organised for industry sectors and on business topics are by people working in companies. The papers are normally based on their working experience and, when studied carefully, can often yield company intelligence. Contract listings In some industries contracts to be placed and contracts won are listed in specialist journals. The Official Journal published daily by the European Community provides insight into where government contracts are being placed and a number of privately published sources cover the construction, civil engineering and mechanical engineering sectors. Government statistics and reports Governments worldwide are not only major users of information; they also collect it on a vast scale. They do so for a variety of reasons, which include the needs of government departments to perform their functions, the need to prove that government is doing a good job and the need to provide a service to their various constituents. The fact that some information collection is politically motivated does not necessarily detract from its usefulness, though it may suggest that it should be examined carefully before it is accepted as being completely accurate.
Information collected by governments ranges from statistical enquiries, mainly covering production, distribution and trade, to in-depth investigations of industry sectors, business practices and corporate activity, Governments also collect information and report on the economic performance of their countries as a basis for deciding on economic policy and the measures to be taken to control economic growth and inflation. For competitive intelligence the main interest arises from the fact that all governments assume responsibility for regulating the activities of companies and are keenly interested in any activities that threaten competition. The two instances in which a government enquiry can be of most assistance to competitive intelligence analysts is when a company or an industry sector is investigated for monopolistic practices or price fixing and when a proposed merger is investigated for fear that it will create a monopoly. References to competition authorities, either national or international, are feared by the companies involved not only because of the delays and the large amounts of staff time such investigations can absorb but also because of the amounts of information that are disclosed when the final reports are published. Venture capital reports Venture capitalists provide finance for start-ups, young developing companies and management buy-outs. The detailed financial arrangements between a venture capitalist and its investments are normally secret but the industry is subject to constant scrutiny and reports are published on the activities of companies in which investments have been made and contain an outline of deals that have been concluded. Analysis of these reports can provide advance warning of interesting new technologies and potential acquisition candidates when the venture capitalist is seeking to exit from its investment. Trade association reports Trade associations are commonly formed as a meeting point and as a vehicle for lobbying government on industry matters. They also provide a service to their members by collecting statistics and commissioning reports. Trade association statistics normally cover: Aggregate sales by members broken down by key product types and market sectors Growth in sales, month on month and year on year Average wage and salary levels by types of employee The statistics provide measurements of activity from which members can derive their overall market shares, their success in the various segments of the market, the extent to which their own growth has matched that of the business as a whole and their competitiveness in the job market. The published statistics may need to be adjusted to allow for companies that are not members or have chosen not to report, but they are usually more accurate than sample surveys. Associations may also provide more qualitative assessments of trading conditions and news on developments by member companies. Published market research reports The market research business offers a wide range of products of use to the competitive intelligence analyst. These can be categorised as follows: Panel surveys, which track the sales of products through retail channels and purchases by various categories of households or customers; unlike the trade association statistics these normally show the estimated market shares of each supplier
To track the patent situation fully required the use of specialist investigators. such as Derwent's World Patent Index and a host of specialist patent monitors. Once entered. Before the advent of patent databases. Patent databases Patent applications provide a leading indication of new technologies and the directions in which companies are channelling their research and development investment. Locating External Secondary Intelligence Secondary intelligence is physically located in three types of sources: Libraries Databases The Internet Libraries Despite the rapid rise in electronic communications the old-fashioned library is still a useful repository of intelligence. The patent databases have simplified the process considerably as has the Europe-wide patent agency established in the early 1990s. Satellite observation Satellite images are being actively sold for competitive intelligence by a number of vendors. these usually contain intelligence on the structure of the business. Companies do not always seek patent protection for their developments particularly if they feel there is a risk the patent wil1 not be granted. Current satellite technology can show objects down to the size of a large lawnmower. High-resolution digital satellite images can show: Plant layout External processes Transport facilities External stocks New plant construction Images can also be used to track changes month by month or year by year. Patents show a number of items of value to those tracking product development including: The inventor The identity of any company licensed to use the patent The characteristics of the invention How the invention works! Citations Patents place developments in the public domain but provide the inventor with legal protection against any infringements. keeping track on competitors' patent applications and patents granted was a laborious process made complex by the fact that patent filings arc required in each country or region in which patent protection is to be sought. scanning library shelves can be quicker 62 .Published reports on products or industry sectors. market share analysis and the activities of the major suppliers active within it.
may prove to be a problem but the library community tends to be one in which there is considerable sharing of resources. Host organizations running on-line services have a strong financial incentive to expand the range of information they carry and owners of information are equally interested in expanding their customer. Databases Since the 1980s there has been a growing trend to collect data into proprietary databases. national and international news items Trade press items Business and professional journals Company financial information Information on mergers and acquisitions Government information Economic data Patents Citations 63 . such as the East European library Government department libraries University libraries. such as the British Library. such as that of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers Trade association libraries Research association libraries Company libraries The main disadvantage of libraries is that they have to be accessed physically which can entail a long and expensive journey. they are more difficult to update than the on-line versions and their main application is for intelligence that has a lasting value. Access to libraries.than searching the Internet and depending on the skills of the librarian and the budget they have access to the human search engine can still locate rich veins of intelligence. particularly those with business schools Institute libraries. staff or students. the Library of Congress and the Export Marketing Intelligence Centre at the Department of Trade and Industry Specialist libraries. particularly those set up for the use of an organization’s members. Although many databases are still available on CD-ROMs. base by adding on-line channels to their conventional methods of distribution. Special visitor permits to use a library that is normally closed to outsiders may also be available on request or for the payment of a small fee. It is therefore possible that a source not held in a local reference library can be obtained on loan from another library that stocks it. which are available either on-line or on CD-ROMs for efficient and rapid searching. The key types of competitive intelligence that can be collected more efficiently by database searches are: Local. The libraries that are most valuable are: National reference libraries. Their advantage is that they often contain obscure sources that will never find their way on to the Internet.
00. Other routes can source much of the more general intelligence contained in the databases and their main justification is the time that using a database will save. 5. and trade association member directories. industry directories. The fact that its coverage is global. The Internet The Internet is rapidly becoming the 'method of choice' for secondary intelligence searches.00. The use of the Internet as a competitive intelligence tool is covered fully in the next Chapter but it is important to remember that it still has limits both in content and in terms of the efficiency at which searches can be carried out. 64 .000 to Rs. Proprietary databases are available only to subscribers or those who pay as they go for their use. Similar published databases are also available in India in form of trade directories. 25.000.Trademarks Scientific and technical information Medical and healthcare literature Legal information Tax information Information on currency Share prices Biographies of businessmen and businesswomen There are an increasing number of guides in the United Kingdom to the sources listed above such as Findex. Annual subscriptions can be quite high. and it is worth subscribing only if the use that will he made of them will he sufficient to justify the cost. even if the documents themselves have to be obtained in hard copy. and magazine indexes are available Ion-line that offer the potential to identify useful studies and articles efficiently. commonly in the range of Rs. that the data that can be accessed through it are extraordinarily diverse and expanding at a phenomenal rate and that it is thought to be largely free tempts analysts to seek the entirety of their secondary intelligence requirements through the Internet.
its facilities. the Internet is not without its problems. The second problem is that volume rarely equates to quality. Many of the more useful sources charge for their intelligence and buying it on the web is simply quicker and more convenient than placing an order and waiting for hard copy. Data that once took weeks to acquire can now be available at a few clicks of a mouse. Sometimes the simplest item of information proves incredibly difficult to locate whilst on other occasions a highly esoteric topic may be covered in great depth.UNIT 6 Intelligence on the Internet The Internet has revolutionised the search for information. at least in areas where local telephone calls are free and if the measure is volume rather than value. a high proportion of the data available from the web is free of charge. This is partly due to the fact that because of its diversity and scale it is impossible to classify easily. The wealth of information available on even the most basic sites is far in excess of that which could be obtained from hard-copy brochures and catalogues and directory entries. Research on the market for peanut butter will identify hundreds of sites providing recipes for peanut butter cookies. some telling the history of the peanut. The purpose of this chapter is not to list all that can be found on the Internet but to describe that which is unique to the web and its use as a means of accessing secondary intelligence. However. as stated above. Although. press releases. Those who promote the web as a vast store of free information are not far from the truth. the most valuable information is not. The web has become the primary route to all of the intelligence sources. It is rare to find a company of any significance that does not have a website on which it posts a description of its activities. 65 . very few giving any statistics on peanut butter consumption. The only rule of the game on the Internet is to be prepared to be surprised .both ways. Although some sites are mentioned the reader will have to look elsewhere for specific listings of all that is available on the web. The web has to be seen not only as a means of accessing intelligence but also as a method by which those who sell intelligence can deliver it to their clients. Making sense of what is available on the Internet is far from easy and many of the guides that have been written are more confusing than enlightening. its partners. some recording the size of the peanut crop worldwide. The main problem is that a high proportion of the free information on the Internet is useless for business purposes and it takes considerable amounts of time and ingenuity to sift through it to get to items that are relevant. technical papers. This applies to all types of information but those seeking intelligence on competitors have been particular beneficiaries of the Internet revolution. The number of websites put up by companies and devoted to news about the activities of companies is disproportionately large. its product range. a large number of sites outlining the services of peanut wholesalers and very. job opportunities and contact points.
permit sequential searches within searches that make it possible to zero in on specific topics but the results are still relatively broadly based. but it can mean that some interesting sites lie unrecorded for a period of time. conference proceedings and exhibition guides. Excite. since the introduction of sites which can make a major contribution to competitive intelligence is nowhere near as rapid as the growth in the web as a whole. natural language query systems can also be used to interrogate databases as a replacement for the more complex SQL and are likely to be encountered more frequently as database providers seek to make their offers more user friendly. Go (formerly Infoseek) and Alta Vista. journals. such as Yahoo. Useful web crawlers are Google. market reports. This adds to the time taken to search and can be avoided by using 'web crawlers'. Less well known but more tailored to searches for business intelligence are Elfsoft. Lycos. The web shines as a method of accessing any intelligence that is published in the press.Search Engines and Web Crawlers The most common way of identifying information on the web is to use the powerful search engines that have been developed specifically for this purpose. Most researchers start with the tried and tested engines. However. that have an area of coverage defined by their search algorithms. company documents. all of which make use of the standard search engines listed above and extend the coverage of a search considerably. English Query and English Wizard. This is not quite as damning as it may seem. none of these search engines can offer complete coverage of the web and to broaden the scope of the search it is necessary to use several engines. It also contains facilities to locate and communicate with highly specialised communities by tapping into discussions on topics that have specific intelligence applications and by reaching targeted groups of individuals to ask for intelligence. such as Go. The latest generation of search engines uses a 'natural language query system' that accepts direct questions rather than strings of words. nQuire. Hard copy web 'yellow pages' are available to supplement the search engines. which is heavily promoted for personal users of the web. One of the main problems with conventional search engines is their inability to search effectively using complex search criteria. These make use of a number of search engines to complete their task. The most useful and most used published content of the web includes: Press articles Newswires On-line databases Market reports Company news 66 . Their main disadvantage is that they are not published frequently enough to keep pace with the growth of the web. The best known is Ask Jeeves. Some of them have added value features such as comments on sites. government reports. In addition to the web. Metacrawler and Webcrawler. Some. Intelligence Content of the Web Despite its size the web is particularly good for some types of intelligence and next to useless for others.
thus eliminating the need to search each site manually. such as company public relations departments. Northern Lights. namely: Company websites on which press releases are posted Newspapers.Financial data Company websites Recruitment Research reports Industry statistics Economic and demographic data Other government data Conference and trade shows Press articles The web can be used to access vast databases of press articles thereby eliminating the time-consuming searches that used to be the case when hard copy was all that was available. have broadened their business base to include major on-line databases that can be searched by subscribers. trade press. The major newswire services have been around since the main method or distributing news was by telegraph. Access to local newspapers and the trade press is more limited but where it exists no less useful. most notably the Financial Times. as have some of the more specialised broadcast channels such as CNN and Bloomberg. Companysleuth. Agence France Press and the Press Association as well as government press agencies. The newswires no longer rely entirely on the media for income and have opened up their services to anyone willing to pay for access to their comprehensive databases of news stories. United Press. Some newspapers. Newswires Newswires are services to the media that distribute news items filed with them by originators. This makes backtracking for information relatively easy. 67 . These databases exist in a number of different forms. or developed by their own correspondents or stringers. is a favourite with analysts as a rapid route to news stories on companies. They include names familiar to any newspaper reader such as Reuters Associated Press.com can provide a daily feed of stories referring to selected companies. magazines and journals that are published (and sometimes indexed) on the web as well as in hard copy Indexing and abstracting services covering specialist topics Articles published on the web and accessible by the search engines Most of the major national newspapers now have a website that hosts the current and back issues of their publications. Using services that filter stories according to criteria set by the analyst can facilitate searching the news media.
Online versions of reports can often be accessed by the page or table at a price set for each data set.sales by retail channels Datamonitor Economist Intelligence Unit Espicom (healthcare) Euromonitor (consumer products) Find/SVP Freedonia Frost & Sullivan Gartner Group (IT businesses) Goulden Reports (electrical markets) 68 .financial databases Indiainfoline Indiabulls Investext Dialog (Profound) Lexis (legal) Derwent (patents) Market reports An increasing number of research companies and report publishers are distributing their product on the Internet. regardless of the amount of the data within them that are relevant to the user. Others may prefer them because they do not incur communication costs. Direct dialling provides much faster access to data but requires knowledge of the protocols and language used by each database. the subscription charges to on-line databases can be substantial and justified only if the use to be made of them is heavy. However accessed. by direct dial-up and via the Internet.on CD-ROMs. The key publishers to be aware of for competitive intelligence are shown below though the list is far from comprehensive: A.C. As far as most users are concerned the convenience of on-line databases has enabled them to supersede CD-ROMs and direct dialling as means of gaining access to databases though the older methods still have a role to fulfil. Nielsen . The key on-line databases that can be considered for competitive intelligence are: Dun & Bradstreet . Those that have access to major public and university libraries may still find CD-ROMs the lowest-cost method of accessing data. Hard-copy reports are available only as complete works. Not only does this make reports more accessible but it can also lower the cost of data.On-line databases Databases can be accessed in three ways . are free from the delay problems still inherent in using the Internet and are often a less expensive source of data even when purchased outright.
official company registers can be accessed through the web. that make their data available through the web. recognising that it is an important new community for them to service. Most are long-established news providers that have successfully moved into the age of the Internet. such as Dun & Bradstreet. These may be complemented by sites aimed at investors such as MoneyExtra that operate a portal to other sites offering company reports and appraisals. though far from all. The more interesting sites to commence with are: Companies House EDGAR Online Investext Dun & Bradstreet – financial data In addition most of the world's major stock exchanges have their own websites that include news and share data for companies quoted on them. local and trade press but is also covered in specialist databases accessible on the web. The main names to look out for are: Associated Press Reuters Dow Jones Hoover's Online Moody's Investors Services Northern Lights Standard & Poor Kompass Thomas Register Financial data The web has facilitated the process of obtaining financial data on companies.IAL Consultants (chemicals) IDC (IT businesses) Keynote (consumer products) Mintel (consumer products) Roskill (minerals) Taylor Nelson Sofres (consumer products) Company news Company news is provided in the national. 69 . A number of them have packaged their data specifically for competitive intelligence. A number. In addition there are specialists in the collection of company financial information.
The information contained on them is often truly revealing. retailing. Nevertheless. 70 .2 The data such sites contain have to be treated with caution since their objective is to cause damage as much as to enlighten and they have a tendency to maximise the amount of bad news and exaggerate. The main novelty of the web is that considerable amount of data can be presented without incurring heavy printing costs. airlines. The prominence of the website as a promotional tool is a boon to competitive intelligence analysts who are spared the drudgery of calling for literature and scouring exhibition stands and distributors for printed material. There are an estimated 5000 corporate attack sites including most of the big names in banking. they should be consulted. News releases Head office and manufacturing locations Staff requirements Some companies appear to have lost all of their inhibitions when building their websites. They can contain substantial amounts of information about companies including: A company history Divisional structure Current activities Product ranges and product descriptions Partners Frequently asked questions Staff 'White papers' on topics related to the business. It has not yet replaced traditional forms of communication completely but is becoming a primary method of reaching target audiences to the extent that most companies now expect to find one for a potential supplier and see it as a sign of obscurity if it does not exist. Attack sites A sub-set of the company Internet sites is the set of 'attack' sites on companies that have been established by ex-employees. dissatisfied customers and various pressure groups. It can also be updated quickly and is therefore never out of date for very long. mainly customers and potential customers. An 'attack' site on Intel is said to be consulted regularly by staff in order to find out what is really going on inside the company.com provides links to sites that have the word 'sucks' in the URL. Others have maintained a minimalist approach and reveal just enough to satisfy the needs of the audiences they are pitching their sites at.Company websites Company websites are the first port of call for all analysts undertaking competitive intelligence. Many are very specific in the topics they cover and relate to complaints originated by single consumers while others arc fed with a variety of information from diverse sources. telecommunications and automobiles. food and other consumer products. Yahoo lists 300 attack sites and CompanyEthics.
Second. Other Government data International. but the rest of the world is poorly served. The UK government statistical service sells data on the web but anyone viewing the web as an alternative to a visit to the local reference library for statistical data will be disappointed. It can also be used to access conference papers that have been presented. who publish a high proportion of the industrial data they collect on the web. Some samples that illustrate the diversity of intelligence that can be collected are as follows: Research collaborations between European companies are covered in detail on European Community sites Intelligence on environmental compliance by companies is published on a number of state sites in the USA and national government sites in Europe Wage rates specific to industry sectors are published by government labour departments Listings of companies that have been awarded government contracts are published in Europe and the USA together with details of the contracts Conferences and trade shows The web simplifies procedures for identifying forthcoming conferences and trade shows that might be useful for intelligence gathering. relatively little has gravitated to the web other than as descriptions or reports that can he purchased. Industry statistics The web is surprising short of useful industry statistics.Recruitment The growth of the web as a recruitment medium has two beneficial side effects for competitive intelligence analysts. This has resulted in the publication of considerable amounts of intelligence on aspects of companies' activities that previously might not have been identified. Eventsource and Trade Show Directory provide industry-wide listings but in addition there are numerous listings of 71 . This reflects a trend to make statistical services pay for themselves by charging for data. identifying former employees of competitors. Some are compiled in useful single sources such as the widely respected CIA Yearbook. it provides an additional mechanism for that most difficult of tasks. There are exceptions. demographic and international trade data for all countries are widely available on the Internet from national and international agency sources. such as the US and Canadian governments. Economic and demographic data Economic. First. Despite the massive amounts of statistical data that are collected and published by national governments. it provides an additional method of searching for the recruitment activities of competitors. national and local governments have taken to the Internet on a major scale as a means of publicizing their activities and reporting progress. international agencies and industry associations. Sites such as Eventseeker.
thereby providing them with the intelligence that an investigation is in progress. by the University of Strathclyde Internet Business Library The Michigan State University Centre for Business Education Dow Jones Interactive Web Centre These sites provide lists of business topics and links to Internet sites that cover them. 72 . as the number of Internet connections expands. Some of the more useful are: Business Information Sources on the Internet. Since these can be individuals with an interest in the topic. out to cause mischief. A further danger is that enquiries made on discussion forums may also be monitored by the companies being investigated. Conference papers can be accessed through databases such as Lexis but may also be published on the web by the individuals that wrote them or the companies or universities that employ them. Discussion Forums Discussion forums are meeting places in which those interested in the topic covered by the forum can exchange messages and information and access files. Short Cuts There are several sites that provide useful short cuts to business intelligence on the Internet. forums provide an interesting alternative to a telephone search for expertise. Message sections .can be used for obtaining answers to questions on any topic from others entering the forum. message sections and conference rooms. However. obtain information and ask questions. Discussion forms have two components. there is a chance of obtaining an informed response. Joining a forum provides analysts with the facility to observe what is going on within it. They provide a similar service to the message section but without the wait The usefulness of discussion forums varies depending on whether one exists for the topic of interest and who can be accessed and their level of knowledge.as the name suggests. It therefore represents a convenient method of obtaining primary intelligence. Each forum tends to cover a single topic and can include a message section. file libraries and a conference room. even worse.conferences within specific industry sectors. conference rooms provide a facility for on-line conversations with others in the forum. the cautionary words above apply Conference rooms . The Internet has provided an opportunity for 'vanity publishing' that was previously an option only for those with enough money to pay the printing costs. Whilst they may be perfectly legitimate they may also be self-proclaimed experts or. The main danger is that it is difficult to establish the credentials of the people who inhabit discussion forums. However.
Unlike manual searches they can also identify new items that have been added since the previous search. the usefulness of a newsgroup depends on the calibre of the contributors to it. Northern Lights. Second. The news databases. Reuters. Automated web monitoring services use proprietary software to search and filter items on the totality of the visible web and make regular deliveries of intelligence gathered according to complex search definitions. As with forums. The responses are 'threaded' in that they contain the original question plus all the responses and comments that have been made together with the signatures of each person providing a contribution. 73 . a task which is virtually impossible for the average analyst. such as CyberAlert and ewatch. Questions can attract a high proportion of uninformed and facile comments and need to be filtered carefully. Relying on manual searches and search engines alone is unlikely to produce comprehensive coverage and can be extremely time consuming. of which there are hundreds of thousands already on the net and new ones being added by the minute.com. archive news items as they are published and offer searchable databases to their clients. Relevant newsgroups can be identified by using a keyword search in the newsreader programme offered by the Internet service provider. Their main limitation is the restricted number of sources they can cover. Lower cost and more comprehensive alternatives that can also be customised to individual users are the automated web monitoring services. forums and message boards. academic and government sites. typically 200 to 1200 news sources. First. They filter company press releases and other news items according to criteria set by clients and deliver them electronically in batches.Newsgroups (or Bulletin Boards) Newsgroups provide another' method of communicating with special interest groups. This can mean comparing thousands of items. Some groups are edited by an individual who chooses to receive all the responses and decide what is added to the file. Search engines have two further and more serious problems. This tends to make the files extremely large but enables the reader to follow the various threads of the discussion that has taken place. News feed services (or electronic news aggregation services) are based on the output of the newswires and other publishers whose output can be captured on the web. user groups. they cannot identify new additions to the web so sequential searches have to be compared with each other manually in order to isolate new items. normally daily. Their search area includes not only publications but also commercial. such as Dialog. Most require an up-front subscription plus a pay-as-you-go fee for each item extracted. This is because they index articles only after a six to twelve week delay and cannot pick up those articles that the newspapers remove from their sites within that period. Messages or questions can be posted into a relevant newsgroup in the expectation that they will be read by thousands of people worldwide and that potentially valuable responses will be obtained. search engines are weak when it comes to monitoring the daily news media on a timely basis. The main methods of avoiding these problems are to use news databases or news feed services. Monitoring the Internet Keeping pace with intelligence on the Internet can be just as difficult as keeping pace in printed media. and FT.
Obviously all of the intelligence that is required can in theory be obtained from external sources. Internal primary sources include all staff that have acquired intelligence on competitors or have access to sources from which it can be obtained. at least in the early months following their defection. and that it can cover aspects of competitors that are more anecdotal than the facts and figures available from published sources. to collect intelligence. Who can contribute? Almost anyone that has contact with the outside world is in a position. Most of those who have studied the availability of competitive intelligence have concluded that internal sources can be extremely productive but are rarely exploited fully. Its value derives from the fact that it has been gained by experience.UNIT 7 Primary Intelligence Sources Primary Intelligence Collection Techniques Primary sources of intelligence represent a means of filling the intelligence gaps left when secondary sources have been exhausted. they are far from being the only sources that can contribute to the collection of competitive intelligence. Information is still considered as conferring power on its holder and there is often a reluctance to part with anything that might be used to advantage. The staff members most widely referred to as sources of competitive intelligence are those who have previously worked for the competition. Though valuable sources. As with secondary sources. there are internal primary sources and external primary sources. As employees of the organisation that will use the intelligence they stand to gain by providing it. both of which should be covered. The information can be categorised as facts. They should be the easiest sources to work with but it has to be admitted that this is not always the case. The most obvious sources are: Staff joining from competitors Sales staff Members of professional associations Delegates to trade and industry associations Staff attending conferences and seminars 74 . Internal Primary Sources The most valuable information can reside in the heads of the company's own staff. particularly those sources that work within the companies being studied. rumours and guesswork and the greatest danger in the use of human intelligence is that the rumours and guesswork are treated as facts. They can provide the most relevant intelligence but are also the most difficult to access. either with the current or previous employers. The dit1icully lies in the fact that they are rarely easy to identify and there are invariably limits to the depth of information they will disclose.
In most cases the leakage of information via departing employees has but a transitory effect and is treated as a risk of being in business. Debriefing recruits about their previous companies is a regular process in many companies but needs to be handled carefully to ensure that no ethical boundaries are crossed. In 2000 Lopez was accused of industrial espionage in the United States. the client base and the qualities of their former colleagues. They asserted that General Motors had been subject to unfair competition practices when former executives illegally took boxes of trade secrets with them when they left the company and used the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organisation (RICO) Act to protect GM's intellectual property rights. they took enough information with them for General Motors to initiate a legal case against Volkswagen. The General Motors legal team claimed that General Motors had been 'victimised by international piracy of their intellectual property rights'.even those they have compiled themselves. it is unrealistic to expect staff to remain completely silent. Absorbing the experience and intellectual property that a staff member has acquired from previous employers is a legitimate activity and may be a key reason why a particular individual was recruited.Staff attending exhibitions and trade shows Staff joining from competitor New recruits who have previously worked for competitors can often provide a particularly interesting perspective on the market. However. A more subtle form of retribution was exacted by Virgin Atlantic when a former British Airways senior employee joined them but left within weeks claiming that the job was not what he had been promised. All employers recognise that past employees will use the knowledge and experience they have gained whilst working with them to further their career prospects with a new employer. They do not expect. Just occasionally it becomes a major issue and this is usually when the amount of damage is judged to be severe and the methods of passing on information can be shown to be illegal. In 1997 the move succeeded when General Motors obtained a $1. it can go too far in that the individual may be expected to provide information which is seriously detrimental to the interests of the previous employer. When Jose Ignacio Lopez left General Motors in 1993 to join Volkswagen and was followed by a group of his former colleagues. They expect the employee to recount information about how things are done by their previous employers. But how do you treat detailed information about impending new product launches. albeit not described in detail or documented? Leaks of such information can be damaging to the past employer but the employee's allegiance is to his or her new employer and. however desirable it may be.1 billion settlement from Volkswagen. middle ground. In a letter published in the marketing press Virgin refuted his statement and assured him that the files he had brought over with him from British Airways were being posted back to him! 75 . The boundary between ethical and unethical information expectations from recruits is easy to see at the extremes but far more difficult to interpret in the grey. or find it acceptable for a former employee to take and pass on anything tangible which is not in the public domain such as confidential documents and plans -.
The second problem is that any activity that takes time away from the primary task of selling means that the sales task may not be performed effectively. information obtained from documents seen in customers' premises (often upside down). but as in any encounter there is an almost inevitable flow of intelligence. Price intelligence is particularly sensitive to distortion by customers and distributors because they may stand to gain by convincing sales representatives that their prices are too high. Customers do not give sales representatives unlimited access to their time and questions designed to collect intelligence can make major inroads into selling. where customers tend to be reasonably well-informed about their suppliers. Unprovoked (or moderately stimulated) comments about competitors by customers or distributors. which they may then translate into evidence of competitive weakness. especially if the sales representatives think they are James Bond and get over-enthusiastic. Obviously a considerable amount of 'verbal fencing' takes place at such meetings as each delegate attempts to maximise the information they obtain yet minimise what they give away. In business-to-business markets. In business and consumer markets wholesalers and retailers can be useful intelligence sources that sales representatives can question. observed activities. Competitive intelligence is valuable but not so much so that it is worth risking sales in order to obtain it. Using sales representatives as a source of intelligence is subject to two problems. such as deliveries being made by competitors. In order to maximise the intelligence yield the interrogation of customers and distributors must be correctly structured and the sales representatives must be briefed sufficiently for them to be able to distinguish between facts and information that the customer or distributor would like the sales representatives to believe. First. Attempts to make sales representatives more objective risks diluting their effectiveness in their sales role and should therefore be treated with extreme care. Customers can interpret it as a sign of insecurity. sales representatives are not usually the most objective observers of the competitive situation and are prone to hear what they want to hear rather than what is being said. Whilst papers presented at meetings and the subject matter of subsequent discussions may themselves be useful. Members of professional trade and industry associations Members of professional associations and delegates to trade and industry bodies have frequent and entirely legitimate opportunities to meet with the staff of competitors. documents collected from customer reception areas. 76 .Sales staff Sales staff meets regularly with customers and distributors and are occasionally in contact with their opposite numbers from competitors. and industry gossip can be more valuable than direct questioning and intrusive probing. Good sales representatives should be totally biased in favour of their products and their employers and therefore more likely to recognise the weaknesses in competitors rather than their strengths. the real benefit arises from the opportunity to ask the competitors’ staff direct questions over coffee or during dinners. exchanges with them can yield substantial amounts of intelligence. Sales representatives are best when they obtain intelligence by listening or observing rather than by direct questioning. Overinquisitiveness about the competition represents a danger in its own right.
The flow of competitive intelligence from internal sources requires: Careful briefing of all staff that are in a position to collect intelligence covering the reasons why the intelligence is required.Staff attending conferences and seminars Conferences and seminars provide another opportunity to meet competitors and exchange views. staff need to be motivated to collect it and provide reports on a regular basis. Many delegates find the breaks between sessions infinitely more valuable than the sessions themselves since they provide an informal setting for exchanges. This is more difficult than it sounds. not surprisingly. The danger in doing so is that the information flow may be over stimulated and that too much useless or inaccurate information will be reported. they are a happy hunting ground for those seeking intelligence. product descriptions and company handouts Talk to sales and technical staff Hear the current marketing pitch being made Since exhibitions are usually attended by a number of competitors they are a highly efficient method of collecting intelligence and permit comparisons between competitors. With a few exceptions. A serious data collection exercise will involve multiple attendances by technical and marketing staff each with a different objective. Motivating staff to participate To maximise the value of internal intelligence. notably the sales force. As public shop windows manned by the suppliers' own staff. Staff attending exhibitions and trade shows Exhibitions and trade shows are mechanisms for disseminating information about exhibitors' products and services and. potentially resulting in a loss of credibility in the system. The use of an exhibition or trade show as a source of intelligence is further enhanced by the fact anybody can attend. Nevertheless. Their usefulness is enhanced by the fact that they permit contact with competitor staff outside the protection of their offices and in a frame of mind which encourages openness rather than secrecy. the applications for which it will be used and the types of intelligence that are likely to be of value A reporting system that makes it easy for staff to pass on the intelligence they have collected to a central reception point A feedback process that provides those that can use intelligence (as well as collect 77 . a system for information collection and some type of formal or informal encouragement to report intelligence should be put in place to maximise the information flow. exhibitions and trade shows provide a unique opportunity to: Examine competitive products Identify the product features that are being promoted as unique or new Collect brochures. collecting information is not a natural part of the daily routine of most staff nor are they necessarily in a position to assess the significance of the information they obtain. The availability of refreshments and alcohol can add to the feeling of goodwill towards visitors to their stands.
nobody who abides by the ethical constraints of the competitive intelligence community can guarantee success. not the least of which is a flat refusal of respondents to cooperate when the questioning gets too sensitive.it) with findings that will help them perform better. It is therefore essential to verify all internal intelligence.data may be biased or incomplete because they were obtained to solve a highly specific problem External Primary Intelligence After secondary and internal sources of intelligence have been exhausted the competitive intelligence professional turns to gathering primary intelligence from external sources. It is technically the most challenging. and those that can only collect intelligence with the reassurance that they are performing a valuable task (Potentially) a reward system: they have sometimes been considered but it is extremely difficult to come up with anything that will work on a long-term basis.some internal sources are more objective and reliable than others and some are in a better position to establish the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of intelligence. Some of the key checks are: The time intelligence was obtained . Folklore and wishful thinking are just as likely to be believed as hard facts by all staff. It is last in the list for very good reasons. especially if they show the competitors in a bad light. The best reward is visible evidence that intelligence collected is being used and is useful The accuracy of internal information The fact that intelligence is available from internal sources does not mean that it is necessarily accurate.old intelligence is likely to be less accurate or representative of the current situation than recent information The method by which the intelligence was acquired . from customers or competitors' staff) may be more reliable than indirect reports Who acquired the intelligence . 78 . There are too many factors that can frustrate the effectiveness of the primary intelligence collection process. Sales people are not the only staff members that can lose their objectivity when observing competitors. can be carried out only by the most skilled researchers and is by far the most costly method of collecting intelligence. Sources of external primary intelligence Primary intelligence collection from external sources relies on two conditions: That fragments of information collected from diverse sources can be pieced together to reveal enough of the overall picture and some of the detail That there arc numerous people in a variety of organisations who are in a position to provide a complete or partial view on competitors' activities. The purpose for which the data were acquired . Furthermore.intelligence that has been collected from first-hand sources (for example.
Any intelligence-gathering activity that relies on a few contacts has only a limited chance of success. Fortunately in all markets there are a large number of individuals who may know what is going on. 'if anyone asked me questions like that. As the number of potential sources that can be tapped expands. some of the detail will be present and other details will be missing but can possibly be guessed. the chances of finding any specific item of intelligence increase dramatically. The overall content of the picture is likely to be revealed. They include: Subject company staff Ex-employees now working in other companies The staff of other competitors Customers Suppliers Brokers' analysts Journalists The staff of regulatory authorities Professional and trade association staff Industry research organisations Pressure groups Universities and business schools Consultants Chambers of Commerce and Industry The staff of the competitors being studied The most accurate sources of intelligence are staff working within the companies being studied. They do so when they: Do not feel that the information they are being asked for is confidential Are engaged in a dialogue from which they feel they stand to benefit by learning something Feel they are in control of the discussion and will reveal only the information they 79 . If this were true for everybody competitive intelligence would be extremely difficult and unproductive but the fact is that employees do reveal information. The problem of determining what is there will depend not only on the proportion of the total pieces that are collected but also how they are spread over the complete canvas. The problem of interpretation becomes really serious only when every piece collected is blue and none of them has a straight edge! The key to success lies in the diversity of sources that can be identified and accessed.Competitive intelligence can be likened to building jigsaw puzzles of a landscape when significant proportions of the pieces are missing. A common comment that is made when discussing competitive intelligence is. By all normal standards they should also be the least likely people to be willing to engage in a dialogue. there is no way I would answer them'.
Middle management is more inclined to be nervous and aware of the real or imaginary dangers to their job security if they make an error and release too much information. there are very few guides to where they may be. human resources managers and competitive intelligence staff. Potential contacts in this context include: Former colleagues (where did they go?). Ex-employees Ex-employees suffer from fewer inhibitions than current employees and. junior staff is less likely to be aware of the risks. but they may also be less knowledgeable. they can be valuable sources. and locating a knowledgeable ex-employee by that route within the timeframe for the analysis is likely to be a lucky rather than a planned event. though this assumes that it is known that a particular staff member has left New colleagues 80 . In most circumstances they are few in number and although a high proportion tends to stay within the same industry sector.are prepared to release Are not suspicious about the reason for the discussion Are asked for information which it is their job to provide Have no inhibitions about revealing information This usually means that the competitor’s staff members who are most likely to cooperate are the most senior and the most junior. The staff to approach depends entirely on the types of information required but the most productive sources of intelligence tend to be: Product and brand managers Staff with a responsibility for advertising or below-the-line activities Sales representatives and sales engineers Service engineers Call centre staff Production management Product design staff Staff with the responsibility for investor relations Information officers Market research personnel The staff members to avoid are accountants. provided they can be located within a reasonable time after leaving the company. Even the growing number of CVs posted to recruitment websites are a drop in the ocean compared to the total level of employment. Senior management normally has the confidence to feel they can control the situation. The planned identification of ex-employees requires a careful trawl of knowledgeable sources within and outside competitors. The key problem is locating them.
but these tend to apply only when the supplier had to be given extremely sensitive information in order to provide the service required or to manufacture the product being supplied. Relationships with potential customers are likely to be less cordial and.Recruitment consultancies specialising in the sector Other competitors Although most respondents can be expected to be reluctant to discuss the activities of their own companies. customers fall into three categories: customers they currently supply. Relationships with ex-customers may still be friendly and there is less to lose by quizzing them. Most companies have a wide range of suppliers and the nature and volume of what is purchased from them can provide considerable insight into their activities. The spectrum of purchases includes: 81 . customers they have supplied in the past and potential customers. Customers In business markets customers have access to considerable amounts of information on their suppliers. although a flow of intelligence can be stimulated. they are usually less inhibited about discussing other competitors. The existence of nondisclosure agreements may prevent them from participating in an intelligence-gathering exercise. Suppliers Like customers. the outward-facing staff of all participants in a market can be expected to have obtained intelligence in the course of their day-to-day activities and they also include staff. Competitive intelligence consultants collecting intelligence on behalf of clients have neither the advantages of friendly relationships with customers nor the problems of projecting the wrong image. Contact with current customers can be regular and sufficiently friendly to expect some level of exchange of intelligence about the activities of other suppliers. This is imparted not only during the selling process but also during the casual exchanges that take place when supplier and customer meet. The most common difficulty is that central sources may be equally unaware of other competitors' activities and if they are knowledgeable they may have paid a substantial amount for the data and are unlikely to give them away freely. care must be taken to avoid creating a situation that could threaten a sale. depending on the nature of their contractual relationship. rumour and gossip. For companies collecting intelligence on their own behalf. Unlocking this source can provide a powerful injection of factual intelligence. It is therefore logical to use them as an extended contact base for competitor intelligence. who has worked previously for the companies being targeted. Nevertheless. though customers are generally reluctant to provide intelligence that they think might harm their own interests or their relationship with important suppliers. suppliers into competitor companies also have access to intelligence. For them customers represent a large community of intelligence sources that can be trawled for as long as time and budget permit. it may be possible to access. This is especially true if they feel they can learn something. which.
usually those that companies are reluctant to cover themselves. how delivery schedules have enabled customer bases to be traced or how information obtained from brochure printers has provided evidence of a planned new product launch or a price rise.Raw materials Components and sub-assemblies Production equipment Consumables Packaging Logistics and delivery services Stationary Printing services Competitive intelligence literature abounds with descriptions of how packaging suppliers have provided vital clues on production volumes. These can be included in the scope of the project for the specific purpose of rewarding analysts. the relevant trade press and as freelancers. In reality direct evidence of competitors' activities of this type is extremely difficult to obtain and suppliers are more generally useful as sources of the rumour and gossip that may also be obtained from customers. It is also useful to identify topics that the analysts are interested in . Knowledgeable journalists can be found working for the national press. even if they are not required for the client. Misleading the investment community is not something that is encouraged. the local press. they still endeavour to extend their knowledge and verify the facts they have been given by carrying out independent research of their own. 82 . It is at this point that the competitive intelligence analyst finds the broker's analyst come together with a mutual interest. The official broker for a company has a responsibility to promote its client’s shares as well as undertake the various tasks required by the Stock Exchange or other brokers study companies to provide investment advice to their share-buying clients. Identifying the brokers that follow the companies being studied and establishing contact with them should be one of the first steps in an intelligence programme covering public companies. To be made productive analysts need to be fed and it is therefore helpful to have data that can be traded with them. Journalists Journalists that report on business and companies arc in a similar position to the brokers' analysts and are afforded similar contact privileges. Although brokers' analysts rely heavily on companies for their information and have full access to investor relations staff to get it. Quoted companies provide considerable amounts of information to the analysts working in brokers in order to enable them to make accurate assessments of future performance. though when the news is bad companies may be defensive and less informative. Brokers' analysts All quoted companies are reported on regularly by stockbrokers.
Journalists make their living out of information and are generally willing to discuss the activities of a company they have covered providing there is a chance they will learn something in the process. Other members of the association can access these most easily. The local press can cover small companies that are important or newsworthy in their local community.The interests of journalists are not restricted to quoted companies or even large companies. Whether for or against an activity they amass all types of information about 83 . Regulatory authority staff In regulated industries the staff members of the regulatory bodies have close and constant contact with the companies whose activities they regulate. It is not always the case that additional information exists since news items arc often based exclusively on press releases by the companies themselves. and are likely to have informed opinions as well as access to facts. Although the decline in manufacturing industry has meant that a number of these have been disbanded or passed into private ownership. particularly those that are most active in the association. Pressure groups Pressure groups embrace a diversity of subjects. many of which cover commercial activity. They are staffed by technical experts who have wide contacts within the industries they service and who are potentially knowledgeable on developments by member companies. Trade press journalists can get closer to their subjects partly because they have a continuing interest and partly because they have specialised industry knowledge. They may be reluctant to discuss the activities of specific companies in detail but they may be prepared to provide background to any reports that they issue. They may also report on the activities of divisions of large companies that can be invisible at a national level. When interviewing journalists it is useful to remember that journalists working to tight deadlines do not always have time to verify the facts they report and that once a story has been filed their interest often ceases. many still survive in their original form. Outsiders have difficulties that arise from the fact that associations tend to work on the wholly reasonable assumption that they are in existence to help the members that pay their subscriptions rather than non-members. Professional and trade association staff The staff of professional and trade associations are close to their members. The most common tactic in competitive intelligence is to identify journalists that have filed a story on a company being investigated and interview them for any background not contained in the published item. The best items to follow up on are those that contain an investigative component and where the journalist has made an obvious attempt to get behind the official story. As with the brokers it is therefore helpful to have information to trade when approaching them. Industry research organisations In many manufacturing industries research associations have been established to carry out technical research on behalf of members.
An open display of interest in a competitor is. particularly in situations where they could be accused under antitrust legislation. only that the results may be limited in value. They devote considerable time to tracking developments and following the activities of companies and are normally very willing to participate in discussions. Universities and business schools Experts on a number of industries can be found in specialist departments within universities and business schools. These have developed skills that maximise their chances of obtaining what is required but above all else they shield the identity of their clients. such as examining competitors' products on exhibition stands. Using staff to collect intelligence suffers from one serious disadvantage . taxation and local regulations affecting business. Obtaining Intelligence Directly from Competitors Companies seeking intelligence directly from their competitors have two options: use their own staff to collect it or use an external intelligence collection agency. Unless staff members are prepared to lie (not a practice to be considered under any circumstances) the shutters will inevitably come down.governments and companies that they feel will help their cause. in itself. Fortunately there are a number of consultancies that specialise in the provision of intelligence-gathering services for clients. Chambers of Commerce Local Chambers of Commerce act as a voice for member companies in the localities in which they are based. 84 . The staff members of Chambers of Commerce are not likely to reveal detailed intelligence on their members but they can be extremely useful on such topics as trading and employment conditions in the region. They may also suffer from a biased view of the world and any data they provide will require careful corroboration before they are accepted as accurate.the competitors normally know who they are and therefore why they are interested. In some countries membership is mandatory but in most it is optional. Consultants Consultants specialising in industry sectors collect large amounts of intelligence in order to support their consulting activity or provide a basis for reports that they publish. tends to be little more than each party would be happy to publish. It is therefore more common to use external consultants for the task. Intelligence that is shared between competitors. Although some activities can be carried out incognito. This does not mean that direct questioning by staff is impossible. intelligence that is best kept secret. Their willingness to disclose intelligence on companies may depend on whether they feel that by doing so they will obtain new information or help their cause. They are generally unwilling to provide intelligence unless they are paid for it but an exchange of information may be possible if they feel that the researcher has access to sources or intelligence that they have not managed to obtain themselves. any form of direct questioning will provoke those on the receiving end to ask for the identity of the questioner and why they are interested.
It is the equivalent of entering the lion's den and carries with it not only the risk of failure but also the risk of exposure. If it is 90-100 per cent they are either over-optimistic or have some reason to know that the intelligence is available. permitting them to scream 'foul' to the rest of the world and then take steps to frustrate any further attempts. how serious are the likely consequences in terms of exposure and adverse publicity? High risks of failure. identifies the means by which the intelligence is being sought and identified the competitor seeking it. This would provide the target company with an intelligence coup. The difficulties involved in questioning the staff of competitor’s means that careful consideration must be given to whether it should be attempted and. It is therefore advisable to spend one time trying to identify named individuals to approach using the methods identified above. covert questioning of the staff of competitors is the very apex of the range of competitive intelligence skills. being caught and exposure may be worthwhile if the value of the intelligence is extremely high. how it should be done. the target company finds out that all intelligence operation against them is in progress. The worst outcome of a failed primary intelligence-gathering exercise would be one in which no intelligence is obtained. but not otherwise. The main factors to be considered when planning an intelligence-gathering programme involving direct questioning of competitor’s staff are: Identifying sources Initiating the discussion Inducements The discussion guide Relationships Switchboards Getting through to staff through the switchboard by job function rather than by name is becoming increasingly difficult as companies seek to protect themselves from the ravages of head hunters or improve efficiency by cutting out telephone operators. When deciding whether interrogating competitors is worthwhile there are a few simple questions that can be asked: What value is ascribed to the intelligence if it is collected? Is the collection programme likely to succeed? Even if the programme succeeds what are the chances of being caught? If the programme is discovered. If it is between 50 per cent and 80 per cent the exercise is probably worth trying. Those planning the programme should be asked to assign a probability to the likelihood of them being able to deliver the intelligence. if so. Maximising the chances of success in primary intelligence collection is not a matter of luck but of careful planning.Questioning competitor staff Whoever carries out the task. This is less difficult when tracking an industry on a continuous 85 .
In most cases this will route to a staff member who can then be used as a source for the correct contact. The reference trail Once one contact has been identified he or she should be used as a source of additional contacts within their own and other companies. professional. are easy to approach since their papers or presentations can be used to initiate a conversation. Identifying sources It is axiomatic that the quality of the sources is the key to the quality of the intelligence. an alternative to using the operator is to dial numbers using the area code prefix and the first two digits of the switchboard number followed by a random final two digits. Unfortunately it is necessary to cover the two most difficult topics in an intelligencegathering exercise at the beginning of a conversation. especially if they know them well. The options for identifying individual sources are: Initiating a dialogue The most difficult task when questioning the staff of competitors is initiating the dialogue. trade or local press can be equally productive. These are the identity of the 86 . Where direct-dialling systems are in use. On some switchboards a redirected call from another internal number has a different ring tone and may therefore bypass the screening practice applied to external calls. One of the most common questions from respondents when first approached is 'How did you get my name?' Respondents need to be reassured that the process is legitimate and they are not the targets of a plot. but this is too much to hope for. Ideally Mr X would be their boss or a respected colleague. Staff thus identified. Company websites may list staff members together with their area of responsibility but a visit to the rapidly growing number of recruitment websites may also identify individuals working in specific companies. it is equally possible that Mr X would prove to be someone they have no respect for. As the conversation proceeds barriers tend to be lowered and the information flow increases. It is therefore imperative that time is spent identifying sources and verifying their credentials to provide the information requested. Announcements of new appointments in the national. over a period of time. it is possible to construct a network of contacts. The ability to refer to a previous source has some effect in reducing suspicion.basis since. Being able to say 'I have been given your name by Mr X who thought that you might be able to help me' is a more reassuring response to the question than 'I was put through to you by the switchboard'. It is at this stage that the respondent is most suspicious and least inclined to cooperate. A useful additional method of lowering the defences is to state that the respondent has been identified as an 'expert' in that field. Being accorded guru status is not only flattering but also increases will Secondary research Secondary research can be used to identify staff members who have written papers or spoken at conferences. The effectiveness of a discussion with a potential source is determined in the first few minutes (some would say seconds!) of the conversation after contact has been made.
without elaborating by stating specifically that it is a competitive intelligence programme It IS acceptable to induce cooperation by engaging the respondent's interest or curiosity and the promise that they will learn something from the exchange. but on the basis that it is always difficult to 'get without giving'. a consultant can state that the sponsor has asked to remain anonymous It is fair and truthful to state that an analysis is being undertaken of an industry or market and those companies that are operating within it. The exceptions are those rare contacts that display no curiosity and are happy to talk. So what should be said? The Code of Ethics under which competitive intelligence is collected specifies no lying. This means that: A consultant can identify his own employing company (that is the consultancy) without revealing the name of the sponsor of the analysis In response to a direct question. such as recruitment or training. it is legitimate to pass on some intelligence either as a primer for the discussion or as recompense. If a direct and honest answer is given to both of these questions it is virtually certain that no intelligence will be obtained. 87 . especially when they know each other and there is strong mutual advantage in sharing knowledge. The offer to trade or pool information has a far better chance of success than a request for information to be provided. no law-breaking and no bribery. Fortunately they do not stipulate that the complete truth is told. more effectively by sharing information Can extend their knowledge on third parties by pooling their intelligence Consultants are more likely to use the intelligence they have already collected in their programmes as means of inducing cooperation from future respondents. There are many situations in which useful exchanges of information can take place between the staff of competitive companies. Obviously they cannot do this to the extent that they give away everything that their client has paid for. no misrepresentation.organisation that requires the information and what it is required for. It is acceptable to use intelligence already gathered as a bargaining chip or as a stimulus to initiate a discussion Inducements The main inducement to cooperate is the promise that the conversation will be worthwhile to both parties. It can happen when both companies: Face a common external threat that can be dealt with more effectively by pooling their intelligence Stand to make efficiency gains by pooling information on their business processes Can solve joint problems.
always bear in mind that some staff may have knowledge outside their normal sphere of operations and. Whilst this expectation may be fulfilled. asking for brackets and approximations is more likely to produce a response than a request for precise data Ensure that as many as possible of the awkward situations that can arise in the discussion are anticipated in advance and that responses have already been framed. 'try to ask' and 'ask if all is going well' categories. Many analysts try to obtain a wide range of intelligence from a single respondent on the basis that he or she may prove to be the only person who will speak to them. Respondents arc at their most cautious and most nervous at the beginning of the discussion. Repeated admissions of ignorance can induce an early termination of the discussion Despite the point above. present the discussion as an exchange and avoid the suggestion that the information flow will be all oneway Never plan to overload a respondent with topics. These will include repeated requests for the identity of the sponsor and requests for access to the final results The term 'discussion guide' has been used deliberately. It is far better to ask respondents for clarification or to confirm or deny what has been picked up from other sources than to ask direct questions Remember that when it comes to numerical information. the topics should be sequenced so that they commence with the least sensitive and move on to the most sensitive.Discussion guide No discussion with competitors' staff should be carried out without a guide that sets out the planned progress of the discussion. The basic rules of discussion guide construction arc: Whatever is really intended or even proves to be practical. unaware of its significance. These may be comprehensive and structured but they are also rigid. This will help ensure that the essential topics are covered in the event of an early shut-down of the discussion Within each group. it is better to plan for a shorter first discussion and . In intelligence gathering the analyst must be free to respond to any statements made by respondents that appear to provide an opportunity for interesting supplementary questions. Use the information already obtained to lead the discussion. The more the discussion appears to flow as a 88 .come back for more at a later date than to attempt to get all that is needed in one session Prioritise the intelligence into 'must ask'. Unlike market research. be less reluctant to reveal it Ask direct questions as infrequently as possible. competitive intelligence should never use questionnaires. As time progresses they generally become more confident and more willing to cooperate Ensure that the questions are tailored to the probable knowledge of each respondent and that no one is asked questions that they cannot conceivably answer.
remains to be proved. how they are constructed. It involves dismantling competitors' products in order to learn their features. Graphology Although graphology was long regarded as one of the blacker arts as far as business applications were concerned. Being too knowledgeable may raise suspicions. It is therefore logical that in order to understand the personality and skills of the executive and key staff of competitor companies an analysis of their handwriting should be carried out. are avoided. drive. Whether the same is true of male researchers working in female environments. the greater the chances of success. 89 . Although rarely used on its own in the selection of candidates it can show personality traits that are difficult to uncover by conventional interviews. All parties must be prepared to give something but stand to gain much in return. organisational ability and sociability. the materials that have been used. The balance is difficult to achieve and the effectiveness of either approach will vary from respondent to respondent. One of the key advantages of handwriting analysis is that it covers the totality of the writer's personality and can cover attributes such as leadership. enthusiasm. As such it has gained widespread use in the screening of job applicants. When this happens care must be taken to ensure that any exchanges that could be construed as 'collusion'.conversation and the less it seems like an interrogation. especially in continental European countries. the design of components. analysts have the option of being naive on the subject matter or knowledgeable. it is now widely accepted. The main risk is that respondents will think the enquiry is frivolous and will refuse to cooperate. greed and repressions. especially discussions on prices. Relationships When intelligence is sought regularly in the same industry sector it is possible to build a network of contacts amongst competitors for the purpose of exchanging information on best practices. Obtaining samples of current handwriting may prove problematical but not impossible and the added dimension it can provide to personal profiling makes it well worth the effort. energy. that the analysis of handwriting provides a valuable guide to personality. It is commonly the case that female researchers working in male environments. finishing and the assembly method. such as engineering or chemicals will benefit from a naive approach. Naivety offers the prospect that respondents will not perceive a threat and will explain matters fully. feelings of resentment. Being knowledgeable suggests that the enquirer is' worth dealing with and may provide some valuable information. such as cosmetics. tendencies to over-indulge in drink or drugs. It can also uncover physical and mental ill health. Naive or knowledgeable When questioning respondents. Reverse engineering Reverse engineering is a well-established approach to obtaining product intelligence.
this is not a route down which analysts should progress too far. voicemail seems to be growing in use as a method of screening calls. Messages left on voicemail are rarely responded to unless the caller or the company they are calling from is known or there is some inducement to respond. Unless it is known that the respondents are prepared to accept calls away from their offices. it also gives the respondent time to reflect. A combination of an interesting 'voice' and a tantalizing message may provoke sufficient interest to achieve a call back. Lack of availability or time to cooperate An inability to make contact with key respondents either because they are physically absent from their offices or unable to spare the time to respond to questions is a common roadblock. E-Mail The third most common roadblock is a request for an e-mail (or fax) setting out the purpose of the enquiry and the topics that will be covered in the discussion. Messages that are highly provoking may result in so much disappointment when the call back is made that the respondent refuses to cooperate further. These work in addition to suspicions of the motives for enquiries referred to above. Calls from telesales and market and other research organisations are widely ignored. A more controllable method of stimulating a response is through the message that is left. Meant as a method of receiving messages whilst absent from an office.Overcoming the roadblocks When gathering primary intelligence it is normal to encounter a number of roadblocks. 90 . Complying with a request for a written explanation is worth doing only when the nature of the enquiry can be made to sound compelling and innocent. However. the risk in all three approaches is that the analyst may antagonise the respondent to the point that they will refuse to cooperate. Unfortunately this may well be the case since written notification not only makes the nature of the enquiry explicit. If this cannot be achieved within the time frame for the survey alternative respondents should be sought. Often this information is sought in the hope that the enquirer will not make further enquiries. There are few methods of dealing with voicemail except persistence. Theoretically they could be tracked down to their homes or to the locations in which they are working or called on their mobiles. Overcoming the roadblocks calls for high levels of ingenuity and even then they may prove insurmountable. The only workable response to this problem is to allow sufficient time for them to become available. The most common barriers are: Switchboards Lack of availability or time to cooperate E-mail and Voicemail Counter-intelligence Voicemail One of the main barriers to initiating a discussion is the increasing use of voicemail.
With fewer pieces of the jigsaw available it will be more difficult to deduce the full picture unless more effective interpretation techniques arc deployed. The use of intelligence by companies heightens their sensitivity to intelligence programmes carried out against them. Normally the best method of evading its effect is to concentrate the search on external sources of intelligence. can be extremely difficult to circumvent within the target organisation. The introduction of counter-intelligence programmes will have the same effect. if well executed. The response to any erosion of the ability to collect direct intelligence can only be greater inventiveness in both the collection and interpretation of information.Conferencing Intelligence The existence of a counter-intelligence programme can cause a complete shut-down to enquiries and. 91 . The Demise of Primary Intelligence? Direct interrogation of competitors has never been easy and can only increase in difficulty as awareness of competitive intelligence spreads.
Prolific publishers of intelligence. The easiest to check are known names whose other work can be read. However. is the primary indicator of the authenticity and accuracy of intelligence. the fact that an author is unknown does not make the work inaccurate. competitive intelligence needs to be accurate to be useful. To do this requires the use of verification procedures that are applied during the data collection process and retrospectively once the intelligence has been analyzed. by its very nature competitive intelligence is prone to be inaccurate. a desire for anonymity is a sign of potential problems ♦ References to the author in other documents. The signals of authenticity are: ♦ The provision of complete provenance and contact details on the author. It is therefore essential that careful checks are made to ensure that errors are minimized. which permit the reader to judge 92 . are likely to have a reputation that can be checked by reference to other users. It is also essential that when the checks are completed the probable quality of the intelligence is assessed and is clearly stated in any reports issued. Unfortunately. This is partly because it is difficult to obtain complete information but also because inaccurate intelligence about competitors' activities circulates widely in all markets and is often accepted as fact. it just means that the verification process is more complex. particularly when the news is adverse. These procedures are particularly important for intelligence obtained from the Internet. such as major research companies. Verification of Published Intelligence The basic checks that should be carried out should cover the following attributes of each item of data: ♦ Author ♦ Publisher ♦ Date ♦ Purpose ♦ Methodology ♦ Cross-checks ♦ Internet Author The identity of the author. which suggests that others have used the work and found it to be accurate ♦ Biographical details and experience statements.UNIT 8 Verifying Intelligence As with all data. and apply for that obtained from other secondary sources and even from primary sources as well. The rumour mill works hard on news about companies. be it an individual or an organisation.
they may be slanted to place the company in the most favourable light with potential clients. Cross-checks The ultimate test of authenticity is whether the data cross-check with similar data obtained from other sources. the availability of information on who they are and how they can be located provides an opportunity to check up on them either directly or by seeking information from others that may have used their data. Methodology The provision of details on how the data in a publication have been collected is a primary indication of quality and authenticity. This may lead to a level of exaggeration or to the use of broad statements that are ambiguous. which is designed only to inform. and one published by a government tourist authority which is designed to attract visitors. If the publisher is unknown. Purpose It is useful to establish the reason for which intelligence has been published. As with authors. Data that have been collected by techniques that are fully described have more credibility than a set of facts or statements whose origins are completely unknown. Statistics art' usually (though not always) tied to specific dates but technical information and company data lose value as they age. known publishers with an established track record and a reputation for quality are generally more trustworthy than unknown publishers. the publisher's identity can help authenticate the data. However. the date it was published shows its currency. Intelligence users should therefore check the publication date of any document consulted.the level of authority from which the author is writing ♦ Attribution of data that have been extracted from other secondary sources which is an indication that the author takes the research process seriously Authors who are employed by the company which the intelligence covers can generally be regarded as being more accurate than those who derive the intelligence from third parties or secondary sources. In-house authors are more likely to know the truth and are unlikely to have much desire to mislead any customers that might read what they have written. Government and international organisation publications that set out to provide factual information are likely to be reasonably accurate. Publisher If the publisher of the data is different from the author. Publication date As with any information. Broker's reports published by a company's official broker may lose some of their objectivity in their enthusiasm to please their employers and boost share prices. there could be a significant difference in objectivity between a document published by a government statistical service. Similar data sets arising from a number of independent 93 . Company publications have an obvious promotional purpose which means that although it is unlikely that the data they contain will be knowingly inaccurate.
The openness of the Internet means that it attracts a large number of cranks who use it as a low-cost way of seeing their name in print. The ease with which anyone can put up a website on a host system means that there is no cost barrier that might deter the more spurious Internet publishers. There is no control over what is placed on the Internet and although a high proportion of what can be accessed is accurate and useful there is also a considerable amount of rubbish. A prime example is websites created by exemployees whose main purpose is to disseminate intelligence that places their former employer in the poorest possible light. regardless of their accuracy. Documents which are 'self-published' have always been more suspect than those that have gone through the hands of a recognized publisher. 94 . It is also likely that personal web pages are more dubious in quality than organisational pages. This is common in the newspaper world where different journals pick up and publish the same press release without checking its accuracy.sources suggest accuracy. Unfortunately facts gain in stature the more frequently they are published. The refusal may be based on the fact that the publisher is worried about a libel case but it could also be that they know the data are wrong. though it is always possible that inaccurate data emanating from a single source are being picked up and broadcast by a number of independent publishers. The same applies to sites that purport to publish facts about companies that other media refuse to publish. This means that researchers using the Internet need to develop a mechanism for checking the quality of the information they have identified. Use of a host organisation does not necessarily indicate poor quality but publishers who run their own server are easier to check up on. Intelligence from the Internet Verification of the information available from Internet sites is essential. The most reliable intelligence to be obtained from the Internet is that which is obtained from: Company websites Government websites Commercial databases The websites of educational establishments Those that should be treated with more suspicion are: Websites created for political purposes Pressure group websites Corporate attack websites These websites have a purpose that could well compromise their objectivity and cause them to distort the intelligence they provide.
It is far easier for respondents to make misleading or inaccurate statements than it is to write them. The ideal situations are those in which the respondents have no reason to suspect the motives for the enquiry and are evidently unguarded. The latter are usually poor sources of intelligence anyway but there is an added risk that they will seek to deceive by providing misinformation. company and telephone number of each respondent Respondent's stated job function The relationship between the respondent and the company being studied (for example. supplier or distributor) The date and time of the conversation The intelligence provided An assessment of the difficulty of extracting the intelligence from the respondent (for example. 95 . The verification of primary intelligence relies on establishing: The identity and job function of the information provider The circumstances in which the intelligence is obtained The degree of security surrounding the company or the type of intelligence being sought Corroboration from independent sources Identity and job function of the intelligence provider Obviously. The most worrying are those in which the respondents display a high level of suspicion and reluctance to talk.Verification of Primary Intelligence Primary intelligence requires an even greater amount of verification than secondary intelligence. It is therefore necessary to balance the need to speak to sources that may be less guarded in what they reveal against the possibility that their knowledge is inaccurate. Information diffuses throughout companies and it is possible for relatively lowlevel staff to be in a position to pass on accurate intelligence but it is also possible for them to have heard information that is distorted or which they distort themselves. Yet these data will be extremely useful if there is a need to decide whether intelligence from one source is likely to be more accurate than intelligence from another. any intelligence provider must be in a position to know the information being elicited. employee. the importance of the log is that when looking back it is often impossible to remember the circumstances surrounding each call that was made. Circumstances in which the intelligence is obtained The circumstances in which intelligence is obtained provide a further indication of accuracy. willing respondent or highly suspicious) Apart from the potential need to contact respondents again. When collecting primary intelligence a careful log must be kept of all calls and conversations showing: Name.
It is possible for a group of respondents to sing the same inaccurate song providing they use the same song sheet but it is unlikely that companies would go to such lengths to mislead their competitors unless they felt they were under an intense competitive intelligence attack. That which the analyst has seen personally is likely to be more reliable than intelligence conveyed exclusively by word of mouth. supply conditions and even prices. High levels of suspicion normally mean that the intelligence yield will be low but they may also indicate that any information that is obtained might be distorted. the fact that they are actively involved in competitive intelligence themselves or a management culture that discourages contact with any part of the outside world that is not a customer or a supplier. who you are doing this survey for?' are clear indications that the respondent's receptivity to questions has changed for the worse. Intelligence gatherers need to be well tuned in to the mood of the conversations they have with competitors so that they can detect potential problems of this sort. The type of intelligence being sought may itself cause respondents to dissemble in their responses. defence). Dangers arise if the respondent continues the conversation but gives misleading replies to questions. such as those covering products. The most obvious signals of problems are the questions that are asked. Suspicion may be a consequence of the business sector in which they operate (for example. 'Wait a minute. the level of competition they encounter. there are others where an employee would find it difficult to understand why an outsider would want information unless they were carrying out an intelligence programme. Corroboration from independent sources The most valid check on all intelligence is the extent to which the facts are either repeated consistently by several sources or where different facts all point to the same conclusion. A conversation that is terminated represents no problem other than an inability to obtain the intelligence.Examples of ideal situations are encounters engineered at conferences and exhibitions and intelligence that are obtained by direct observation. Affairs' whose task is not only to provide information about the company but also to limit the outflow to that which is essential. what are you collecting this information for?' or 'Tell me again. 96 . Commonly this is the department for 'Public. Whilst there are many questions that respondents would regard as being reasonable. The more difficult situations are invariably those in which employees are telephoned directly for intelligence and where the reason for the request cannot be clearly defined. Security surrounding the company or type of intelligence Some companies are naturally more suspicious than others. Seeking intelligence from multiple sources is a basic tenet of competitive intelligence and care must always be taken with data obtained from companies that direct all requests for intelligence to a single source. It is common for a conversation with a competitor to proceed amicably up to the point at which a question on a sensitive topic is asked and for it then to cease because the questioner has stepped over a boundary line and into territory that the respondent regards as being confidential to the company.
The content of the ideal intelligence brief should include: ♦ Background information ♦ The product or service to be covered ♦ The competitors to be covered and any relevant internally available information on them ♦ Type of intelligence programme required ♦ Key intelligence topics ♦ Thoughts on the intelligence approach ♦ Documents ♦ Potential intelligence sources and contacts ♦ Exclusions from the intelligence process ♦ Confidentiality 97 . If intelligence users fail to set out what they require it is unlikely that the right result will be obtained. The Briefing Document An intelligence brief need to contain all of the information required to decide not only what intelligence is to be collected but also the potential sources of intelligence and the data collection methods that are to be used. An intelligence exercise is only as good as the initial brief. as already discussed. flows naturally from the definition of the key intelligence topics but to ensure that the exercise is successful the analyst must be given more than a list of questions. which is the internal analyst's or intelligence agency's response to the briefing they have been given. that are unlikely.Sanity Checks The final check on all data is that of 'reasonableness': not only 'whether it fits with all the other facts that have been obtained" but also 'whether it is reasonable' in the light of general company and industry norms. Testing whether intelligence is reasonable is easier if several competitors are studied simultaneously and when data for the commissioning company are available (providing they are in the same business). This provides a multiplicity of observations that can be compared. A good briefing. and follow with a decision on who is to collect the intelligence. They commence with the definition of the intelligence topics to be covered. such as sales per employee or output per member of the workforce. briefing them and obtaining a proposal. which may comprise a briefing document and a briefing meeting. The Intelligence Briefing Obtaining competitive intelligence involves four key stages. Obviously the briefing document needs to be more comprehensive for external agencies but it is a mistake to assume that internal intelligence staff will automatically know all of the details required to ensure a good project. This is easiest to see with performance data where sets of figures result in averages.
even in the case of well-known consumer items it may be helpful to describe the attributes of the product which have helped it gain its current market share and the methods by which competitors are believed to have achieved their positions within the market.♦ Timing ♦ Budgetary constraints ♦ Requirements from the agencies submitting proposals ♦ Date by which a proposal is expected ♦ Contacts within the client organization ♦ Code of ethics Background information Background information should be given on any aspect of the company and its activities that could be relevant plus the market and competition situation in which the company operates. The need for background information will be greatest in the case of relatively unknown companies and highly specialized businesses which analysts are unlikely to have encountered before. the aspects of their services that are to be covered and any basic reference data that are already 98 . The description should cover: ♦ Product or service characteristics ♦ Applications ♦ Product or service strengths ♦ Distribution methods ♦ Users ♦ Known prices ♦ Points of differentiation between competitive products The need for a detailed description is more important in the case of technical or specialised products or services. However. Competitors to be covered and relevant information The brief should state which competitors are to be covered in the programme. Useful background information could include: ♦ An outline history of the company ♦ The nature of the market in which it operates ♦ The company's development within the business sector being covered ♦ The overall competitive environment ♦ The situation which has created the need for the intelligence The product or service to be covered The products or services to be covered by the exercise should be described in full.
competitor profiles or an on-going competitor-tracking exercise. there is little point in paying again for intelligence that already exists and is thought to be reasonably accurate. Type of intelligence programme The brief should state the type of intelligence programme that is required. The objectives should also state how intelligence is expected to help solve the problem (such as assisting tactical competitive decisions or providing the basis for an overall competitive strategy). 99 . poor profit performance or suspected impending competitive action). The most valuable contribution could be an analysis of the structure of the business and the types of organisations operating in it with an assessment of which types of organization are likely to know most about the activities of competitors. However. Thoughts on the intelligence approach A high proportion of intelligence users have no contribution to make on the intelligencegathering approach that should be adopted and nor should they. entry into a new market. in doing so. The topics should be in the order of priority so that the analysts know the items that are regarded as essential. loss of market share. though experienced intelligence users and others who have a feel for the magnitude of the task should ensure that the shopping list is likely to be achievable. The latter may include their main locations. planned introduction of a new product. The overall objectives of the exercise The objectives or the exercise must be clearly stated in terms that arc as specific as possible. their products and services. They should commence with a definition of the problem that has given rise to the need for intelligence (such as bidding for a major contract.known. and is broadly consistent with time and budgetary constraints. the most cost-efficient or the leastcost routes to obtaining intelligence. given the difficulties of collecting intelligence. provide analysts with better insight on how intelligence can be collected. there are areas on which users that know the business can comment and. It is up to the professionals to convince users on the most effective. namely quick tactical intelligence gathering. Intelligence users are sometimes reluctant to hand over information they already hold on the grounds that the data may be played back to them or may bias the findings. Key intelligence topics The key intelligence topics specified by the intelligence user should be stated. those that are very useful and those that would be nice to have but not worth a special effort to obtain. At this stage the list can be as comprehensive as possible. Nevertheless. Anything that improves the efficiency of the intelligence collection process should be regarded as beneficial and it is far better to use the budget to collect new intelligence. segments of the market they are operating in and length of time in the business.
but knowing what is expected will enable the analyst to design an 100 . Confidentiality All competitive intelligence is carried out on a confidential basis and the results should remain the property of the sponsor. such as: ♦ The dates by which the project is expected to be commissioned ♦ Key meetings during the programme ♦ The expected completion date ♦ The anticipated date for a discussion of the findings with the intelligence users Even in the best-run companies these dates may slip for reasons which are nothing to do with the research.Documents The brief can usefully include any documentation that is relevant. such as trade association contacts. employees that have worked previously for competitors. Exclusions from the intelligence process If there are organizations or individuals that should not be contacted in the exercise. for whatever reason. exhibitions or trade shows Related research already completed and potentially available. Timing is always critical in competitive intelligence and the delivery of the results will often need to be tied in with other activities that are taking place. known staff of the competitors. ♦ Current industry issues that could be used by analysts as a method of initiating a dialogue with intelligence sources. This normally includes brochures and catalogues but can be extended to internal reports and other evidence that might be helpful in orientating the agency preparing the proposal. It is helpful for internal analysts and external agencies to know the overall timescale that is envisioned.this could include published sources. other staff that might have competitor knowledge. Potential external intelligence sources and contact The intelligence-gathering process normally requires as many contacts and references as possible.such as forthcoming conferences. and external contacts that might have knowledge of competitors' activities. Requiring agencies to sign a non-disclosure agreement before sending them the briefing document may reinforce this. including: ♦ Potential sources of intelligence . Intelligence users should therefore provide any assistance they can from their knowledge of the business. ♦ Opportunities to reach sources . Timing The brief should state clearly when the results of the exercise are required. It is also reasonable to solicit an undertaking that an external agency will not carry out assignments for competitors for a defined period (18 months to two years) after the' completion of the current project. journalists or brokers' analysts that are known to have studied the competitors. they should be identified in the brief. useful websites.
part of which should be discussions with the intelligence agencies selected to submit proposals. Giving a budget indication avoids this problem. 101 . taking account of the fact that the analysts may require a meeting to discuss the project before preparing a proposal. providing the budget is realistic. Budgetary constraints There are two diametrically opposed schools of thought on providing an indication of the budget in the briefing document. usually unpleasant. The problem arises with new competitive intelligence users who have no idea of what it can cost. The only word of warning is that tight sets of commissioning and delivery deadlines which are consistently missed soon earn companies reputations for not being serious. Contacts within the client organization Finally the brief should state the points of contact between the client organization and the analysts. This should include the primary point of contact. particularly for large. To get to this point the first-time intelligence user may need to do a little preparatory research on costs. Requirements from the research companies submitting proposals The brief should state any information that the client particularly requires the internal analyst or intelligence agency to include in the proposal. can take a considerable amount of time but the norm lies between several hours and several days. Nor is it a problem if the intelligence user already has a reasonable idea from previous experience of what the exercise should cost. Code of ethics Many users of competitive intelligence have prepared codes of ethics that their own staff and external agencies working for them must adhere to. Reasonable time should be permitted for proposal preparation.approach which will meet initial plans. complex projects requiring preliminary research. The second thinks that the provision of an indicative budget will ensure that the approaches proposed are within the limits that the company can afford. If these exist they should be sent with the briefing document. to whom the proposal should be sent and to whom questions can be addressed. This could include: ♦ An indication of the feasibility of achieving the intelligence objectives ♦ An outline of previous experience in similar types of project ♦ A biographical note on the analysts who would carry out the exercise ♦ Organizations from which the client can seek references on the intelligence agency Date by which a proposal is expected As a separate item the briefing document should state when the proposal is required. Proposal writing. For them an open-ended request for proposals will commonly result in surprises. The first believes that agencies should be handed a problem and it is up to them to design and cost the most appropriate intelligence collection approach. If money is not the objective the first of these two alternatives poses no serious problems.
A briefing meeting is an opportunity to observe agency personnel in action. the former by a better understanding of what is required and the latter through a deeper appreciation of what it is possible to obtain for the budget that is likely to be available.an overtly 'hard nosed' commercial approach may indicate that the information will be superficial. Except in the case of the smallest and most straightforward intelligence requirements. an un-commercial. to obtain feedback on the likely acceptability of alternative approaches and to impress the client with his or her knowledge and competence. together with an invitation to quote. academic approach may indicate that the results will be too theoretical and unusable 102 . The purpose of the briefing meeting is to provide an opportunity for the analysts to ask questions and to get the intelligence user to elaborate on the brief. the factors which determine the quality of the output and the compromises which may need to be made to achieve a result which is costeffective for the client ♦ The level of honesty and the extent to which the agency will keep to ethical guidelines ♦ The extent to which the agency is prepared to be flexible to meet client requirements ♦ The commercial approach of the agency . The former permits the client to invite additional staff members to discuss the requirement. It also enables the analyst to obtain a feel for the scale of the intelligence exercise that is expected. the submission of a briefing document should be accompanied by an offer to meet with analysts to discuss the requirement in more depth.The Briefing Meeting The briefing document should be sent to agencies that have been short listed as capable of carrying out the project. to demonstrate products and to call for additional documentation.he or she will tend to be one of their best staff and may not be typical of the rest of the team but if he or she is not good enough the remainder are unlikely to be better ♦ The level of market and industry knowledge that is displayed ♦ The apparent level of skill in competitive intelligence and the ability to explain the processes. The meeting can take place at either the client's premises or the agency's offices. the latter provides an early opportunity for the client to see the analysts in their own environment. Both client and analyst should benefit from the exchange. The indicators of agency suitability that can be gained from the meeting are: ♦ The quality of the agency representative .
These executives understand that it is better to be close all the time than to be accurate occasionally. Information is everywhere and attempting to know all and see all will effectively paralyse your business. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. then accept it and live up to it. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. . Waiting for that level of accuracy will result in sluggish and ineffective actions. the business world is not ideal. How do you strike a balance? How do you learn to recognize the value in certain pieces of information. it is just as common today to find a new and innovative start-up introducing a cutting-edge product that renders an industry leader's wares obsolete. about the environment in which it operates and about its ability to 103 . But after observation and analysis.Lord Buddha The successful (person) is the one who finds out what is the matter with his (or her) business before his (or her) competitors do. No business is immune. Analysis is the key to effective business decision-making. Keeping your finger on the pulse of your business environment is crucial to avoid this fate. All businesses ignore the competition at their peril. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many. or reactions to a more nimble competitor who has recognized a window of opportunity. while it may be ideal to have every piece of data required for a decision. While it is common to hear about the 'category killer' stores putting local shops out of business. when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all. Roy L SMITH (ADAPTED BY C COOK AND M COOK) It is difficult to conduct business without hearing about your competitors. a rumour from one of your salespeople or perhaps a new customer who explains why she has opted for your product or service when two of your rivals contacted her first. whether it be an advertisement you see in a newspaper. Failure and success have as much to do with a company's ability to manage intelligence about itself.PART III PRACTICE OF COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE UNIT 9 Art of Analysis: Turning Information into Intelligence Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. You should be worried if you are able to go through a week without any knowledge about what is happening in your business environment. about its competitors. While it is virtually impossible to ignore information. it is very easy to be overwhelmed by it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. In the intelligence age. Most business executives will tell you that. This is the value of analysis in CI. while avoiding overload? The answer is to shift the focus away from information gathering and focus on analysis. markets are so competitive and so connected that a technological change or a new entrant in your industry can put you out of business before you know what has happened.
It is no longer a simple task to identify rivals because the competitive environment is more dynamic. It is competitive benchmarking. a full book on benchmarking would still not cover it completely because it is such an extensive discipline on its own. How docs one go about analysing the business environment'? It helps first to understand the different elements of the environment as well as the different levels of analysis that can be conducted. market factor analysis. merger analysis. industry and company analysis. industry and competitive objectives. We discuss benchmarking and explain how to benchmark your organization against another in the following chapter. The good news is that it is possible. patent analysis is most commonly used for company analysis so we have included it in that section: however. company profiling. economic. intelligence mapping. increasingly sophisticated and demanding consumers in markets around the world and the creation of new business channels. For example. it also has applications in industry analysis and market analysis as well. They are political. We include two types of analysis that can be used to analyse markets: market factor analysis and intelligence mapping. The ones we include will enable you effectively to conduct market. Market factors analysis We have identified five broad factors that need to be addressed when conducting an analysis of a market. The globalization of culture and commerce has brought about dizzying changes for businesses in the last decade. competitor profiling. a trend towards deregulation and harmonization of international standards. There are a number of factors to analyse when you are determining the potential or opportunity within a new market.execute strategies based on the intelligence at its disposal as it does with deep pockets and loyal customers. the analysis techniques will differ. expansive and unpredictable than ever before. patent analysis. whether that market spans a region. Market analysis With the global economy becoming increasingly competitive. These factors all contribute to the difficulty in anticipating what the future holds. Chapter 15 gives you a good overview of it and how 'to get started using competitive benchmarking. and company analysis. personality profiling. Porter's model of five forces. Depending on the nature of your company. companies and markets. We have selected the ones we find most beneficial. There are many different tools to analyse industries. Toss in a heaping dose of technology. businesses are anxious to explore new opportunities for growth in other parts of the world. thereby gaining a better competitive advantage. industry analysis. technological and industryspecific. We break the various types of competitive analysis into three main categories: market analysis. More analysis techniques are being developed all the time. There is one integral analysis tool that has not been included in this chapter. and the task of remaining competitive seems daunting. We include the following analysis techniques in this chapter: event analysis. if not impossible. Scope of the analysis techniques can be used for more than one type of analysis. Entering new markets is not a matter of duplicating your current business practices in another geographic location. This type of analysis provides you with both a historical perspective regarding 104 . However. ratio analysis and SWOT analysis. social. a country or a number of countries.
Governments exercise varying degrees of control in different industries in different parts of the world. While this example is extreme. for example. a coup breaks out in the country? The government is overthrown. You should examine what laws are on the books that could affect your competitiveness in these markets. To meet all the standards required in that nation would be more costly than to ship the finished product over a longer distance into that market from a factory operating under less stringent environmental restrictions. any information that you gather in this regard will be extremely valuable for your decision. A bit of advance preparation can save a considerable amount of hardship later on. On the other extreme. they are free to go forth and prosper. A historical perspective of the area's political stability. While this is changing in China. it is difficult to describe the role of government in industry as anything but oppressive. they are decreasing as more countries accept open markets as a key to their growth. Government control or influence is exerted in other ways that affect competitiveness as well. and international agreements and membership into international trade organizations increase the likelihood of more equitable treatment when conducting international business.market evolution and development. It is also important to analyse the legal system or systems within the target market as well. Regardless of whether 105 . and the current political issues facing the country. it illustrates the potential hardship a company can face if it has not adequately analysed and assessed the political risk when it explores new markets. you have China's planned economy. In the United States. is seized until further notice. Such information is available from a number of sources. While it is often difficult to analyse the level of corruption within a political or judicial system. and how such treatment creates competitive advantages for those firms. businesses are relatively free from the government telling them how to operate. from the president or prime minister to the key decision makers in the power departments. Fortunately. Knowing the extent to which this occurs in your target market. There are still many barriers to foreign investment in certain markets. find out how effectively and fairly they have been enforced in the past and determine whether . Yet it is important to find out the extent to which preferential treatment is still given to domestic companies. For example.changes are pending that could also affect your ability to compete. are necessary ingredients for a thorough analysis. But do not stop there. and the impact that might have on your ability to succeed. As long as companies adhere to welldocumented laws. the military takes over and all foreign investment. and an increased ability to forecast the direction in which the market is headed. in which factory output for a given business is dictated and the concepts of competition. One area in which we have advised clients concerns the} impact of conducting business in a country or region in which human rights abuses are prevalent. Political analysis How would you feel if you invested heavily in a new operation overseas and. such as the CIA World Fact Book. including your operation. Analyse the status and personality of the present leadership. a manufacturing company may find the environmental regulations regarding emissions too onerous to consider building a factory in a specific country. a month after you opened your doors for business. marketing and continuous improvement are non-existent. One factor to consider is the type of government and legal system. is crucial.
if the economic strength of a particular market is in mining and forestry and these industries are declining rapidly. These can be valuable sources of information to forecast growth trends for certain products or services. are aware of an upcoming change that will make conducting business in a previously untested market much more lucrative. Throughout this book. and whether money has been dedicated to these efforts. as well as its potential for greater affluence in the future. which can undoubtedly affect its competitiveness. Economic analysis An economic analysis of a target market helps you understand the historical growth or decline of a particular market. including the distribution of wealth and earnings within a market. belief systems and general cultural differences that organizations need to understand and respect to maximize their success in foreign markets. Governments also promote economic development within their borders. This can give you insight into a number of economic factors. did not know existed prior to your analysis. where the government has tried to remove as many barriers as possible to foreign firms looking to set up shop in France. There are very few circumstances in which a company would want to invest heavily into a market that is not only economically depressed. there is a potential for serious backlash against the firm. Social analysis An intelligent organization never overlooks the impact of social and cultural elements on its competitiveness. Conducting this analysis requires an examination or the strengths or the various industry sectors within the market relative to other markets. but you also want to feel confident in the market's economic capabilities as a whole. Clearly you will be more interested in sectors of the industry that seem more relevant to your business. The Invest in France Programme is a prime example. we discuss a number of issues relating to competing internationally. Others are less obvious. your company will want to feel confident that the market in question has the infrastructure in place to support whatever type of business you are in. Your consumer-product business may have very little in common with natural resources but. and perhaps your competitors. you can find out if there are plans for improvements. you will have to determine whether large-scale employee reductions in these industries in future years will hinder your efforts to sell your product or service in this market. These departments also publish demographic information.these abuses are widely publicized. and often provide incentives to attract new business. Competitive advantages can be gained if you. including language based challenges. Contacting economic development agencies within your target markets to learn about incentives may result in competitive advantages that you. and in terms of historical growth and potential. This whole situation can simply be avoided if a company sets ethical guidelines for the way in which it conducts business and respects people. changes or additions. The difference is that now you know. airline routes or office space in a particular location. If you need roads or railways. this type of analysis at the outset saves time and money later in the process. If the target market does not have what you need in the way of infrastructure. On a very broad level. but has been on a downward spiral for many years with no sign of hope. 106 . and not your competitors. such as census results and other types of surveys. Many governments collect and publish economic statistics including import and export data. Some of these are obvious and well documented.
Canadians became risk-averse and suspicious of success while people in the US became the champions of new ideas and new challenges. As a result. They are partners in the world's richest bilateral trade. Washington. The technological maturity of the market you enter must be analysed. he indicated that Canadian investors and potential partners loved his idea but wanted to wait until he had achieved success before backing his business. The market's rate of adoption of technology will also be a factor in any decisions you make about competing in that area. it has played itself out in the business world to the detriment of Canadian businesses. ultimately. While this may be a generalization. We call this the law of technological influence. Conversely. A thorough analysis of it will increase the value of your market analysis and. and share much of the same culture. Technology plays a tremendous role in an organization's competitiveness. 5 per cent have cable television and 2 per cent have computers. economic. For example. the level of technological use and the rate of adoption are key elements of a market analysis. It is not always possible to gauge the level of business sophistication in any particular market. This fifth market analysis factor moves your efforts from the overall market environment to your specific industry. who are also exposed to all things American. or to understand the nuances that make different people. businesses or cultures react differently from others in certain environments. they wanted to 'know how he was going to achieve his goals and objectives. they decided to get involved at the critical start-up stage. In contrast. So why is it so difficult for Canadians to accept and celebrate entrepreneurial effort and success? Somehow. Technology analysis We cannot overstate the impact technology is having on the way business is conducted globally. We have seen that the level of use of technology is directly proportional to its influence in business. a business that is a low technology user will be at a competitive disadvantage if it attempts to enter a market in which competing firms are high technology users. An article in a Canadian business magazine featured a very innovative Canadian entrepreneur who found success only after he left Canada to build his business in Seattle. when he approached US investors for financial backing. and how open it may be to a new business model or an untested marketing approach. during the development of these relatively young nations. Some of the analysis tools that 107 . When asked why he took this approach. your recommendations to decision-makers.Consider Canada and the United States. Industry analysis The political. A social analysis helps give you more information on how receptive a market may be to a new product or service. It may seem obvious that a company will not expand its Internet service business to a market where 10 per cent of the population have telephones. Satisfied with his vision. These two technologically advanced and highly industrialized nations share the world's longest undefended border. social and technology analyses that you have conducted set the stage for your industry analysis. With the exception of a percentage of the French speaking population in Quebec. the two countries share the same language. It is less obvious when a business that has automated all of its processes and uses computers in every department establishes an office in an area where power generation facilities are unreliable and leading-edge computer hardware is difficult to procure from local sources. innovative business idea and sound strategy. a firm that has embraced technology in every aspect of its business may find it disadvantageous to enter a market in which the trappings of technology do not exist or are not readily available.
Based on the answers. news reporters. The stronger ones will define your intelligence map. 1. SWOT analysis. event analysis.would give you the most accurate and useful information on a private company?' 'Which of the sources are most likely to have the information. database. government. 'Each country or region has a set of intelligence antennas that act as information magnets and are superior in picking up and absorbing information in that country or region' (Fuld. paraphrased as necessary: 'If you had to go to Country X to find information on private company Y. We include it as a market analysis technique but it has value for industry analysis and company analysis as well. Analyzing. developed a valuable competitive analysis tool caned 'intelligence mapping'. banks.can be incorporated into this stage include Porter's five forces. That is the reasoning behind creating an intelligence map. and which are least likely? Could you rank them?' 4. strategies and relative performance in the areas in which 108 . It is a means to map the intelligence resources you can find in a particular country. Industry analysis Having a strong understanding of the industry in which you are operating is the best way to position your organization for success. bank. 1995: 209). stock analyst. competitor profiling. Each country tends to be different in the collection and housing of information. Call sources (securities analysts. Department of Commerce analysts. 1995: 207). Keep this map in mind. determine which of the sources prove to be stronger antennas and which are weaker. government filing . weaknesses. banks and consulates) that follow business events for that country. Thorough industry analysis gives you insight into industry profitability. Identify a business event or a company. success indicators and life cycle: Industry profitability: What segments within the industry are getting the most attention from competitors and why? Are these the segments your company should focus on? Success indicators: What are the areas in which your competitors excel? What are their strengths. Ask these questions. Fuld refers to antennas as part of his intelligence antennas law. Intelligence mapping Fuld suggests the following technique for creating an intelligence map Leonard M Fuld. 3. and Using Information about your Competitors. associations. merger analysis and patent analysis. which he describes as. You can then refer to the map whenever you conduct research in that particular country. By doing this at the beginning of a project you potentially save countless hours of research and frustration later. 2. external traders. These antennas can be analysts. and you will be able to gather intelligence more quickly and more accurately (Fuld. author of The New Competitor Intelligence: The Complete Resource for Finding.local newspaper. what sources would you go to first?' 'Which sources . internal traders and publications.
Most businesses. large or small. Many countries that historically controlled business through government intervention and strict restrictions on foreign investment are embracing economic reforms and opening up to the benefits of more liberal trade. The threat of new competition grows every day. This is becoming more common as the international markets grow and the barriers to competition shrink. they may be confused about a decline in their business because they have not broadened their scope of enquiry to consider nontraditional rivals. recognize the direct competition within their immediate market. Threat of new competition. Influence of suppliers. Competition within the industry Competition within an industry is a way of life in most markets around the world. Many businesspeople are 109 . provincial. Influence of customers. however. which is the second force that Porter identified. International companies or multinationals may recognize the other multinational businesses or strong national competitors against which they compete in various markets. they may fail to consider strong rivals in smaller regional markets. whether that be at the town. Threat of alternatives or substitutes.you want to compete? Industry life cycle: Is the industry new or mature? How will your business measure up to existing competitors? Which ones are likely to be the greatest threats to your success? Is the industry in a high growth stage or has growth slowed as rivalry intensified? Has the intensified new competition and substitute products or services made buyers and suppliers more influential? What factors are likely to be important to success in this industry in the future? How prepared is your company for that future scenario? Porter's five forces model In his early works on competition within industries and competitive strategies. These forces determine an industry's attractiveness and are identified below: Competition within the industry. city. Rivalry in the business world is viewed as economically healthy. state or national level. county. particularly when it is supported by a mild dose of regulatory guidance to ensure fair and equitable conditions for the business community and consumers. If you can entertain the idea of selling your goods or services in new markets. These 'small fish' can quickly infiltrate the 'big pond' and change the industry environment for everyone. In addition. They may not recognize or consider the indirect competitors that share the territory. Professor Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School developed a model identifying five forces that act on players in a competitive environment. remember that many of your competitors are thinking the same thing. Consequently. entrepreneurs in these new markets are becoming aware of the opportunities in your back yard. Threat of new competition This is a double-edged sword for any business because the creation of new markets is linked to the creation or new potential competitors.
True or not. assembly can only occur if the tyre supplier. Existing businesses that have built their reputation on specific functions of their organizations are now being analysed so that those areas of excellence can be introduced into other companies. even if they do not have a recording contract. And the price the manufacturer charges must be competitive in its class while still leaving room to make a reasonable profit. This is particularly true in more mature industries. Businesses that are interested in success must analyse and act on the needs of customers and potential customers as part of their competitive strategy. Influence of buyers 'The customer is always right”. including competitors. While Porter identified threats from alternatives or substitutes in his works in the 1980s. Both components are shipped for final assembly to the factory where the automobile frame has been constructed. and the seats designed and constructed by another company at another location. it would have been difficult accurately to determine the impact this competitive force would have in the 110 . of course. have also shipped their key components at the same time. music stores are forced to compete with online vendors of CDs and audiotapes. Porter emphasized the customers' demand for greater quality or service. mismanagement or vision can all play a part in your success. The only real barriers to entering new industries. In most instances. Of course. At the retail level. The notion that “if you built it. Is there a market for your company's product or service? Is it economically viable to enter the market? Is the regulatory environment supportive or overbearing? Does your company have the skills and resources to succeed in this area of business? Influence of suppliers It is rare to find a business today that is wholly self-sufficient. Their efficiency. contracting and partnering have all become part of everyday operation. engines may be built in one factory.convinced that their product or service is so fantastic that everyone will want to buy it. greed. What such businesspeople tend to forget is that. Outsourcing. their ability to shop around for alternatives. or Internet service offered by cable television companies or telecommunications giants. your business is integrally linked to the fortunes and misfortunes of your suppliers. Customers exert considerable force on an industry and have the power to make winners and losers. Any new feature of a rival's product was seen as a threat to Sony's leadership and the Walkman's brand recognition. they will come (insert buy)” does not work in the business world. the idea may be duplicated by many. Why is the recording industry threatened by the Internet? Musicians now have an alternative for getting their music out to the masses. or new markets for that matter. This is what we call the 'Field of Dreams' approach to business. if they are correct and their product or service is fantastic. the exhaust supplier and the paint supplier. this old adage does not adequately describe the ability of buyers to influence your business or an industry as a whole. Threat of alternatives or substitutes Why are there so many models of Sony's Walkman? The company took the position that it had to provide a portable audiocassette or CD player to match anything that a competitor might put on the market. In the automotive industry. the bargaining power of large-volume customers and. are the decision-makers' perceptions of how difficult it is to do so. Whether it be generic or 'no name' products in food stores. It is crucial that you analyse the impact of their influence on your operation. there is always the threat that your customers will be able to get the same thing you are offering or something similar in a way that they prefer. insurance services offered through banks. among others.
It analyses its diverse core businesses to such a degree that it is able to maintain either first or second place in the markets for those businesses. then that particular business is divested. personality analyses and operational analyses. The industry level is where you see Porter's five forces being played out. management information. for example. Competitor profiling One of the analysis techniques we use to determine a company's standing within an industry is to determine the company's main competitors and conduct a competitor profiling. manufacturing. you have a useful view of the competitor's personality. such as financial summaries. debt/equity ratios and cash flow help to create a technical perspective of the competitor. finance. products and/or services. If analysis illustrates that General Electric cannot achieve its goal. Technical analyses provide a statistical snapshot of a company that may help to explain its situation. Technical. By looking at the organizational structure. strategy. out of a possible score of 10. These include company history. employment. is to assign each competitor a value for its functions. marketing. For example. After compiling data for each of these areas for each of the companies. but one that we find particularly valuable. General Electric. 111 . An optional part of competitor profiling. Areas such. imagine you are competing in a high-technology industry and are interested in the position of two rivals. this company looks like a dangerous competitor. You have already determined that Competitor A has a positive cash flow and very little debt. marketing. we compile research covering each of the main functions of the company and each of its competitors' functions. A competitive analysis at the operations level examines the key elements of operating a business. we might assign Competitor A. sales.business world today. Financially. Personality analyses give you a more qualitative type of information that may help explain how a competitor perceives it and how it may react in a particular situation. distribution and customer service are analysed to determine where competitive advantages exist. Combined with information on that organization's goals. To further your understanding of the competitive environment in which you operate. you can formulate an opinion on corporate culture. sales. Standard accounting reports and formulae. we compare them. the ownership and key managers or board of directors. Analysing the forces that Porter identified in his model of a competitive industry is an excellent point of departure. an analysis will be more valuable if it looks at the different variables. On behalf of the company. as research and development. distribution. research and development. marketing communications. further industry analysis and company analysis. policies and strategies. within that environment naturally. technology and image. profitability ratios (return on sales. return on assets and return on equity). Company Analysis Company-level competitive analysis has several components: technical analyses. personality and operational analyses work best as analysis tools when they are considered together to create an image of a competitor. For example. a rating of 5 for its marketing efforts. where 1 is the least impressive and 10 is the most impressive. has demonstrated considerable skill in this regard.
The management team was handpicked with the help of a successful industry insider and' consultant. opportunities and threats. Management expertise . event analysis.quality and quantity. Unskilled workers. image. The factors for strength to consider are: Patents . it has remained fiercely conservative in an industry that has begun to change rapidly. you are simply collecting data that may not provide you with the insights you need to analyse your competition effectively. There are many factors to consider for each variable in the SWOT analysis. personality profiling and merger analysis. Company B has been around for less than two years and has amassed its debt by hiring and acquiring the best and brightest in the industry and investing more heavily in research and development than you and Company A combined.Competitor B has a negative cash flow and considerable debt. which were discussed earlier. patent analysis. Company A has been in the industry for a long time. Weaknesses are your competitors' liabilities or potential liabilities. They can take the form of: Financial debt. technology-owned or readily available. company profiling. Market share . SWOT analysis SWOT stands for strengths. Customer loyalty. and the upgrades of existing products have not introduced much in the way of innovation. skilled employees. Business strategies are often developed in a framework that considers the financial position of the company and the corporate culture. Who is the threat? Without considering both the technical and personality components of the analysis. Labour strife. 112 . The company analysis techniques that we discuss in this chapter include SWOT analysis. Marketing strategies have targeted loyal customers with discounts and incentives. weaknesses. and the opportunities and threats in your market. New products are few and far between. and quality of product or service Effective marketing. Company B has been aggressive in its pursuit of new business opportunities.current position (dominant or weak. Its management team has not changed with the times and. and the company's strengths and weaknesses in the key areas mentioned above. The strengths are all the powerful attributes that an organization may possess. marketing and communications. ratio analysis. and innovative in marketing its new product line. like the board of directors. which according to rumours will set a new standard in the industry. for example) in the market. It examines your competitors' strengths and weaknesses. and is a valuable tool that spans competitive intelligence. and does not seem to pose a competitive threat from a technical perspective.who are the major decision-makers and what do they bring to the table? Financial position. However.
human resources. Lack of management experience or divisive management. There are as much different strength and weaknesses as there are companies. Analysis of strengths and weaknesses occurs at the corporate or business level. These include: products. strategic alliances and partnerships. and image. Larry Kahaner suggests that there are four main areas to look. That same start-up. Here are a few examples of opportunities that may affect your organization: Government regulations or pending regulations that would aid a company. technology. There are many factors that need to be looked at to conduct an accurate and thorough SWOT analysis. Costly government regulations. When trying to predict the opportunities or threats that might arise. Poor-quality products. whereas opportunities and threats are analysed at the market or industry level. as outlined in his book Competitive Intelligence: From Black Ops to Boardrooms (1996): 113 . New competitors. Decreases in operating costs or materials costs. finances. Patent expirations (other companies'). could be a threat to your position in the market. Poor after-sales service. Changing demographics that might assist a company in increasing its client / customer base. branding. preferably before it is implemented. with a bucket of venture capital and a visionary management team. Increasing bank interest rates. and Lack of customer loyalty. or outdated technology. If the company’s technology complements your line of business. marketing and sales. Opportunity may take the shape of a new start-up in your industry that has innovative technology but lacks capital and business skills to take it to the next level. perhaps a merger offer or a partnership would give your operation a competitive advantage. manufacturing or operations. but the above factors cover the major ones that should be considered during the analysis of a competitor. These are examples of threats that may affect your organization: Raw materials shortages. Inefficient production equipment or processes. examining the favourable and unfavourable conditions that can impact on your organization's ability to compete.Poor image or visibility. A regulatory change that impacts on your manufacturing process or licensing costs is another example of a threat that needs to be analysed. Ineffective or minimal marketing.
Typically you will also find information about company goals and philosophies contained in its mission statement as well. products and/or services. By researching all the functions of a company at the same time. analysing all the components of a company simultaneously creates an expansive picture of the company that might not otherwise have been obtained. vision and values. operations. It entails examination of a company's background information. which should not be overlooked. Often an organization creates mission statements at a time when it is in a shift or crisis. alliances. The resulting mission statement often reflects its perception of itself and its plans for the future. operations or strategies. newsletter reporters. 114 . Kahaner also suggests following the industry analysts' predictions to learn about possible moves the industry as a whole might take. we developed a detailed technique. Some of the best applications 1'01' this type of analysis include mergers. What the company's current or past actions indicate for the future. These mission statements are often posted on Web sites or printed in annual reports or corporate capability brochures. joint ventures and other partnership arrangements where companies need to know everything they can about the company in question. and How the competitive environment will affect the company's future. called 'company profiling'. Company profiling One of the most sought-after applications of competitive intelligence is a detailed description of a particular company. employees. management. They come in many different statutory company filings. marketing. market analysts. but know that their finances are not in the best condition and that they are not very technologically astute. if we learn that a company has a risk-taking management team that plans to implement some aggressive marketing and corporate strategies. which we use to analyse a company's activities. For example. If you are having trouble finding a company's mission statement it may be under a different heading such as plans. and any other types of information we can dig up about a company. Always try to find out an organization's mission statement to determine where it is headed. we may be able to deduce that this company could have difficulty in carrying out its grandiose plans. Industry experts' forecasts. sales. distribution. See the accompanying box for a company profiling worksheet developed to ensure thorough research and analysis of each of the main aspects of the company being researched. weaknesses. technology. These may include stock. Analysis of strengths. mission statements are an excellent source of potentially valuable intelligence. strategies. R & D or engineering. trade associations and labour unions. As part of the company's public forecast. we are often capable of analysing the company in greater detail. opportunities and threats in each of these departments of an organization is a valuable way to learn about a company or industry opportunities. finances.The company's public forecast. Due to the number of requests we had for this type of project. philosophies. While conducting detailed research on a company is not new. goals or objectives.
4. customers. chief operations officer (COO). etc Exchange on which securities are traded Management information Name and relevant background information of key corporate executives and advisers there are typically six key levels of corporate executives and advisers to consider in the management of a company: 1. 3. chief executive officer (CEO). company structure. Vice-president of operations. chief 2. key shareholders) Key industry sector(s) the company is involved in Perception of the company by media. vice-president of finance. chief marketing officer (CMO) and chief information officer (CIO).COMPANY PROFILE WORKSHEET Company name Address Telephone number(s) Toll-free number(s) Fax number(s) Web site address Company Background History of the company (i. 6. Senior or executive vice-president.this may be a legal firm. etc. Legal adviser(s) .the person or company that audits the company's financial information. vice-president of marketing. President.e. vice-president of informatics. 5. number of employees) Key ownership of the company (i.e. founding date. present and future) Corporate culture New product developments Market entry strategies/new markets Mergers and/or alliances Joint ventures 115 . Board of directors. Accounting adviser(s) . financial officer (CFO). 7. Company strategy Company's focus (past.
Financial information Revenues Profitability Fixed costs Variable costs Debt Capital R & D expenditures Operational information Facility information Number of facilities Location Size Condition of facilities New/upcoming/expanding facilities Technology used in operations Operational output Technology information Types of technology used in each of the company's main functions Server and Web site information Marketing information Key markets served Market share in each market Marketing and advertising strategies Market entry strategies Customers/clients served in each market Sales information Number of people on sales force Key sales channels Customer service information Sales force compensation methods Major customers/clients 116 .
average days in inventory ratio. debt to equity ratio and profitability ratios. Before you leave this chapter. parts. directors. 117 .competitors. inventory turnover ratio. The ratios sound less palatable than they actually are. labour or intellectual capital Distribution information Supply chain used Shipping methods Suppliers Employee information Number of employees Number of employees in major employment categories (i. thinking it was intended for accountants. marketing. keep reading.Product and/or service information Major product lines Minor product lines Sales information by key product lines Specifications on products Suppliers of raw materials. Some of these ratios include the current ratio. quick ratio. human resources. etc) Salaries of major employment groups Union information/collective bargaining agreements Subcontracting R & D/ Engineering Types of R & D Number of R & D staff/contractors/consultants Types of engineering Number of engineering staff/contractors/consultants R & D/engineering budget Other information Specify Ratio analysis These analysis techniques are borrowed from bankers who quickly and effortlessly size up a company's financial strength and future using ratios. debt servicing ratio. A general understanding of them now will be extremely valuable when you are analysing your . total debt to assets ratio.e. accounts receivable ratios..
Current ratio current assets Current ratio = current liabilities For example. contractors and other short-term debtors on time? The higher the ratio. Quick Ratio The quick ratio (also called the acid-test ratio) is very similar to the current ratio.000 rupees to obtain 1.The current ratio indicates how liquid a company is. if ABC Corporation has 750. It is a much stricter measure of liquidity of a company. except that it considers that the company's inventory may be difficult to sell. the greater degree of liquidity a company has.000 rupees in current assets and 1500. In other words. you would divide 750.000 rupees by 1500. will it have sufficient money to pay its suppliers.000 rupees in current liabilities.5 as the current ratio. current assets – inventory Quick ratio = current liabilities 118 .
The analysis must be timely. What is competitor X likely to do? How will competitor Y respond to our price increases? When will competitor Z introduce its new product? It's a time when you present your logical arguments based on your analysis of raw data. One way to ensure timeliness is to use matrices as part of your analysis that allows new numbers to be plugged in when available. This will allow parts of your analysis to be useful for a long time to come." -Thomas Henry Huxley The moment of truth has arrived. a few months perhaps. make better decisions. Instead of coming down on one side or the' other.. Managers support competitive intelligence programs because they help them do their job better. This is when you give management the answers to their questions. This seems obvious but if you've been working on a project for a long time. but action.e. It's a time when most competitive intelligence projects fail. This is when the findings are presented to key management. Your backup data can be long.UNIT 10 Dissemination "The great end of life is not knowledge. analysts sometimes present scenarios with equal possibilities to happen. Too often analysts don't have the courage of their convictions and present management with scenarios that are too general to be of any use in making decisions. 119 . Your assessment must answer the tough questions in a succinct manner. After collection and analysis comes the most important part of any competitive intelligence project. but your recommendations must be simple and address the prime questions from management. You must make a decision on the most likely choice and defend it. It's a time to defend your logic. is your information the latest that is available? If not. it should be updated. Your written report must be short and to the point. If they don't do that the program has failed. not general. The analysis must be focused. Presenting Your Analysis Those that succeed fulfil the following criteria: The analysis must be responsive to management's needs. to put up or shut up. i.
Later. and lots of fanfare. Dunn & Company. If requested. If management doesn't buy it. Some competitive intelligence professionals are also starting to realize that they are actually taking on the role of a salesperson. It's important for competitive intelligence presenters to understand their management's preferences. Why? It may be new and untried. All of us take in information in three ways. "He kept saying. and it can only occur if your assessments help management make better decisions. For most managers. copies of your assessment should also be distributed to key people outside the corporate office. even fund it. It's not how management is used to making decisions. Alan Bergstrom. aurally. they should also be in a form that will have the biggest impact on management. and kinaesthetically (by sense or feeling). Results must be in the best form for management Not only should intelligence reports have all the right components. Reagan responded better to visual stimuli so Bergstrom presented intelligence reports on video cassette. Some like a combination. 'Is that all?' " Because of his background in the movies. visually. After making your presentation to senior management. "I found that he wasn't paying attention to written reports. Some people like big presentations with slides. Take the time to observe how management in your company prefers to learn. but then don't trust the findings in their heart of hearts. an oral presentation works best. they haven't done their job well enough. Competitive intelligence professionals say they are most successful when management knows them and trusts their work from other projects. you should conduct a session with senior management to see what you can do better next time. Trust takes time to build. video. 120 . perhaps in other positions at the company. learned this lesson when he worked in the Reagan administration. they should be given full presentations in the form they find the most effective." says Bergstrom. a partner in Edgar. It allows you to present your assessment and suggestions for action. His job was to present the president with intelligence reports. The manager can then ask some additional questions or ask for clarification. Knowing how management accepts intelligence reports is crucial. They are selling their findings and ideas to management. Some people like to have a written report with charts and graphs that they can peruse on their own.High trust level Some senior managers support the idea of competitive intelligence. One of your jobs is to make management feel comfortable with competitive intelligence methods and techniques. find out what areas need improvement.
Competitive intelligence is never meant to be a one-shot activity.What Else Do You Do with Your Analysis? While competitive intelligence units should always be working on a major project or two for management-it's their reason for being what about the rest of the company and their needs? And what about the downtime or free time between management's large projects? A major chemical manufacturer uses an e-mail system file to stay in touch with hundreds of its employees around the world. and then turning loose the raw information back to people who can use it to make their own assessments. However. This meant that most intelligence changed hands manually in the form of written documents. This is an excellent instance of collecting information. doing a quickie assessment to keep management informed of ad hoc conditions. Written reports are still used in a high proportion of companies. The user assesses how well his needs were met by the competitive intelligence unit and the competitive intelligence unit assesses how the users used the intelligence. second. After all. It's also at this point that some companies use the two-sided report card method of assessing how competitive intelligence worked or didn't work. the company's status will change based on new actions that will be taken. Back to the Beginning Delivering your findings to the user brings you back to the beginning phase of the intelligence cycle-planning and direction. the advent of efficient and secure internal communication systems 121 . first. because a high proportion of intelligence is useful only for a short period of time and. These people regularly transmit pieces of information to the competitive intelligence unit. Whatever action is taken as the result of your assessment will present the user (and the company) with new requirements and needs. as the company changes so will its intelligence needs. though now they may be e-mailed rather than physically copied. which receives about twenty to thirty messages weekly. The demand for competitive intelligence evolved long before the development of computerised communication systems. because staff that collect competitive intelligence tend to be more security-conscious than most and have a tendency to keep the most useful data to themselves. Did it help management make better decisions? Processing and Distributing Intelligence One of the key tasks of competitive intelligence analysts is to ensure that their findings reach the staff that can use them within an acceptable time-frame. Some of the information is passed on to management and the rest is compiled into a report that is sent electronically to all the people who have sent in material during the month. The only true measure of the success of competitive intelligence is whether or not the user used the intelligence he was presented. This may sound obvious but is worth stating.
Written Reports In medium and small companies the written report remains the most cost-effective method of distributing competitive intelligence. Systems can also be used by staff to notify the analysts of their competitive intelligence requirements. A common problem faced by all internal competitive intelligence analysts is generating sufficient enthusiasm about their programmes to persuade executives to spend time contributing information and studying the results on a regular basis. They also have the advantage that they can be organised at times that do not eat into the working day. for verifying it and for ensuring that it is distributed quickly to . such as breakfast or lunch meetings with a modest bribe in the form of refreshments! 122 . This means that there is a considerable premium to be placed on delivering intelligence by means that gain the attention of its potential users and minimise the amount of time they need to spend assimilating it. Manual systems are cumbersome and carry the risk of finding their way into the wrong hands but are more user-friendly to the majority that still prefer to absorb data off a page rather than a screen and at times and in places where screens are not available. what starts as a minor threat can soon escalate into a crisis.the staff that can use it. The processing and distribution options that are available are: The distribution of written reports Meetings and forums in which competitive intelligence is presented and discussed E-mail Corporate intranets Management (or marketing) information systems Knowledge management systems Tailored competitive intelligence systems The choice will depend on the size of the organisation. .means that there are ready mechanisms for collecting intelligence from internal sources. the importance attached to the use of competitive intelligence and the budget that is available. The attraction of the printed page is amply demonstrated by the high proportion of electronically distributed documents that are printed before being read. the enthusiasm for competitive intelligence tends to evaporate once the crisis has passed. The threats posed by competitors are ever present and unless staff continuously update their knowledge and act on the basis of small signals. Meetings and Other Forums Meetings and other methods that bring executives together are rarely time-saving but are more likely to gain attention than intelligence reports. Although they have no problem gaining attention at times of intense competitive activity.
profiles of the key management and deductions about their strategies. Management Information Systems Management or. Meetings between staff are the most common method of interacting but internal seminars. the intranet is a passive participant in the knowledge management process. Exhibitions have been used with some success to display material on groups of competitors. marketing information systems have been in existence for some time and can certainly incorporate competitive intelligence. Nor can it filter or manipulate information unless special software packages are installed on it. They have the advantages of simplicity and ease of use. To be fully effective an information system must be something more than a passive store of information. Seminars and workshops at which intelligence is presented formally and then discussed bring the benefit of collective working. to ask questions. are rapidly gaining acceptance as a vehicle for collecting and sharing information within organisations. Corporate Intranets Intranets. more specifically. Furthermore. Security is a serious issue with intranets and competitive intelligence reports posted on them should be at least password-protected in order to limit access to those authorised to read them. after the data have been obtained. It is therefore an ideal medium for distributing competitive newsletters or 'alerts' containing information that needs to be acted upon quickly. marketing materials.The value of competitive intelligence is considerably enhanced when staff using intelligence has the opportunity to discuss it with those that collect it. It connects information gatherers with information users but does not in itself overcome the cultural problems that act as a barrier to information exchange. It also needs to be dynamic in the sense that it: Stimulates the flow of information to users Triggers the actions required to fill information gaps Ensures that the information available from the system is continuously updated to meet the changing needs of the organisation 123 . but are more difficult to tailor to competitive intelligence purposes than database management systems. The material on display can comprise profiles of competitor companies. workshops and exhibitions are also being used with considerable success. E-mail E-mail has the major advantage of gaining instant attention from recipients. the internal equivalent of the Internet. Each 'stand' at the exhibition covers a single competitor and is manned by staff that has studied the company. examples of products. The personal interface permits users to describe their requirements in detail and. This is further enhanced in the case of workshops in which intelligence is used as the basis for developing solutions to specific competitive problems.
threats and opportunities By bringing together all of the intelligence that a company collects from internal and external sources and by means of secondary and primary research. prices. Some of the 124 . more importantly. Furthermore. to prevent unauthorised access. to make comments on data or trends for others in the company to consider and to request additional intelligence. products and services offered. including data generated internally from the company's own records. Security systems need to be in place to prevent intelligence being overwritten or lost and. A system can also contain a facility for staff to enter information and interpretations of their own. . Whilst managers will accept that exceptional or unusual intelligence needs are not catered for by the system and therefore have to be resourced separately. data collected regularly from key secondary sources. other than storage space. to what is placed on a management information system. large organisations can duplicate intelligence-collection costs as different departments specify the same needs and either commission their own exercises or purchase the same published reports. the system must be easy to navigate and users must be able to locate and retrieve the information they require quickly. they will soon run out of patience with a system that fails to answer routine questions. The key functions of a management information system are: To act as a repository for all intelligence that is relevant to the company's management. Regardless of the purpose for which the information was collected it can often be recycled for other applications. Large systems need not be cumbersome but they must be well-designed to make them user-friendly. the latest financial information. To be useful. The definition of what constitutes routine intelligence will vary from company to company but generally includes current news. and to encourage staff to use it. It also suggests that they are electronic though a number of manual systems are still in existence. an effective management information system can not only improve information utilisation but can also save money. determine its accuracy and grade its importance to the company's current and future operations To identify intelligence gaps either by matching information needed with information available on the system or by processing intelligence requests from line managers To distribute data that have been acquired and alert management to significant developments. distributors and competitors collected by the sales force and others having regular external contacts To ensure that the intelligence which is used continuously is always up to date To sift and interpret incoming information. market segments serviced and key customers. Whilst there is no physical limit.This suggests a system that is an important component of the working environment of the various departments that use it and that is used continuously. data that have been purchased or commissioned from external sources and anecdotal information on customers. management changes. a management information system must contain most (if not all) of the intelligence that managers require on a regular basis.
competitive intelligence is directly relevant to the sales and marketing department but may also be important to corporate strategy. Data inputs can come from a wide variety of sources within and outside the company and the management of the system and control over what is placed on it needs to be the responsibility of one person (or team of people). It feeds into all business processes and integrates hard data with 'soft' assets of an organisation. a management information system requires constant updating. let alone brought together. Even though it may be subject to all sorts of distortions and biases. A management information system is. production and human resources. particularly if it contains benchmarking data. that it will become impossible to use efficiently. Within the marketing function. Knowledge management is a new discipline that encompasses total information needs of a company obtained from internal and external sources. Most other corporate functions use information that needs to be collected. Knowledge management systems are replacing management information systems and knowledge managers are beginning to supplant information officers. it can provide considerable insight into the status and development of a market and the competitors active within it. processed. Without proper stewardship the database will either atrophy and fall into disuse or will become so overloaded with irrelevant data. For example. The focus of the picture of the market that is provided may be considerably sharpened when data from all sales representatives are compared and rationalised. namely the creative contributions that can be made by staff.' The problem of integrating knowledge into the decision-making processes of a company is not unique to competitive strategy development. In the case of competitive intelligence this can be daily. Knowledge Management Systems Knowledge management systems and the older management information systems have much in common but differ in one key respect.standard software packages which have been developed to handle large-scale information systems are notoriously difficult to operate and may require considerable modification. sales representatives are a major repository of information that is rarely acknowledged.but also tacit knowledge . as its name implies. 125 . fed in by enthusiastic but uninformed staff. The primary management task is to ensure that what is placed on the system is relevant to the company's business.the understanding that individual staff members carry around in their heads or in their personal records. Similarly all customised reports on competitors should be received in electronic format so that they can be entered directly without re-transcription. for example. interpreted and distributed and there can be considerable overlap in the information needs of departments. Like all databases.that which is written down and incorporated in inventories . solely concerned with the storage and processing of information whereas a knowledge management system incorporates systems that assist its users to 'elevate information to knowledge and then store and disseminate the resultant output. In the case of competitor information using electronic news feeds can facilitate the task of inputting news items. accurate and timely. A key difference from traditional information systems is that knowledge management acknowledges the importance not only of explicit knowledge .
Indeed. premium sources. 126 . The connecting facility provides a question-and-answer system to help reach those individuals within an organisation who will know the answers to questions. but are not essential to the process. Knowledgex (http://www. Nevertheless a growing number of custom-designed knowledge management systems are being developed and made available to organisations that embrace the concept. publishing and distributing knowledge across an organisation. The tracking function follows through the flow of information of questions and answers to create an archive for reuse. tracking and rewarding facilities. It aims to tap into employees' knowledge about a market. The rewarding function encourages people in the organisation to participate by providing incentives.The system improves efficiency by increasing the availability and use of the information assets that the company has acquired by: Tapping the data collection and creative resources of all relevant staff in the organisation Minimising the chances of the same tasks being separate parts of the organisation Making a consensus interpretation available to all Maintaining the currency of the information Knowledge management systems are usually associated with powerful database management systems. It feeds in real-time information or delivers personalised profiles to interested parties.knowledgex.6dos.com) This system offers connecting.com) Wisewire is held on an organisation's website or intranet. This can be achieved manually without the burden of designing an automated system. such as Lotus Notes. The primary task is to gain acceptance that knowledge is required throughout the organisation and that it can be created and distributed if all of the relevant staff have access to raw data and can work on them for their own purposes and for the common benefit of the system. which are capable of handling large volumes of data. The content comprises on-line sources.com) This is a software application for acquiring. The hardware and software are indeed a valuable component. to share this information with people who need to know and develop a knowledge base with a simple-to-use visual interface. The most relevant information can be archived to provide a searchable resource.wisewire. 6DOS (http://www. especially in large organisations. Wisewire (http://www. it is advisable to establish a manual system and prove that it works and is accepted before major investments are made in hardware and software. mailing lists and the organisation's own proprietary information. newsgroups. Some typical systems are described below and have been selected to show how knowledge management differs fundamentally from more traditional methods of sharing information within organisations. discovering.
The search results show the contexts of the returned documents so the user can easily see what parts of the organisation are relevant. data mining and text retrieval in order to access.hold an indexed and searchable database comprising internal and externally generated material from diverse sources in text. A typical competitive intelligence system will carry out the following functions: Database .com) Intraspect enables the collection. Typically these are based on database management and groupware systems. In the absence of an existing commitment. this meets the need to engage as many staff as possible in the intelligence collection and appraisal processes Tasking requesting individuals throughout the company to carry out tasks that result in intelligence being created and then monitoring their activities Analysis . organisation and re-use of information via a single interface. even though they may require adaptation to maximise their usefulness. store. Comments can be attached to documents and discussion groups set up through the interface or bye-mail. competitive intelligence analysts can consider investing in a tailor-made competitive intelligence system.Intraspect (http://www. The contents of the organisation's memory are indexed to enable filtered and focused searching. such as Lotus Notes. graphic. Indeed. voice and video formats Inputs . The differences are in the detailed features that have been inserted for competitive intelligence purposes rather than in the overall concept. manage and distribute competitive intelligence. suppliers of competitive intelligence systems see themselves as being members of the broader Knowledge management community. Where they have already been installed as part of an overall management information system they probably represent the most cost-effective solution for competitive intelligence. The attraction of these systems is that the work of adapting the standard systems to meet the specific requirements of competitive intelligence has already been carried out and they can be installed on a turnkey basis.permits staff to input intelligence and comments whenever they review material held on the database.intraspect. tailored systems are a costly investment and are not necessarily the best method of starting a competitive intelligence function. and a corporate intranet. Tailored Competitive Intelligence Systems Analysts can use any of the large number of standard packages that have been developed for database management. organise. Their justification lies in the fact that they can save considerable set-up time and also import the expertise that their developers have gained over many years in the competitive intelligence business.organising and sorting complex sets of data in response to specific problems in order to facilitate the achievement of a solution 127 . data filtering. Tailor-made competitive intelligence systems bear a strong resemblance to the management information and knowledge management systems described above. HTML. Although' there are companies that prefer to have a separate competitive intelligence system rather than a management information system that contains competitive intelligence.
which could be avoided by removing temptation.Reports . 128 . In the security world intelligence systems are defined as being either 'open' or 'closed'. if only to create some measure of protection when the next round of redundancies is being considered. by market planners and by certain line marketing staff such as brand and product managers. Some of the most prolific and effective users of competitive intelligence rely on their internal analysts to distribute manually specific items of intelligence to those they feel can use it. competitive intelligence managers should be interested in proving that they are making a contribution to performance. sales staff and specialists such as advertising and PR. together with an interpretation of what they feel it could mean to the recipient. Even if companies do not feel a need to demonstrate that they are spending their money wisely. It is evident that the unlimited access to an 'open' system poses security risks. In a closed system all of the content is classified as secret and only those that have a 'need to know' can have access to it. The conflicting demands of maintaining overall security whilst at the same time ensuring that intelligence reaches all of those that can make use of it can be overcome by manual intervention.using the database to create reports on topics as they arise Communications . Measuring the Effectiveness of Competitive Intelligence The effectiveness of all business processes and activities should be measured and competitive intelligence is no exception. either deliberately or inadvertently.sharing the data and analysis that have been created with all those who are mandated to use them The content of these systems is updated continuously by automatic data feeds and by the manual insertion of data. especially since it is an activity that can absorb a considerable budget. but it is equally clear that if access to competitive intelligence is too restricted it will not gain the widespread use that is required to justify the cost of collecting it. 'Need' can be defined in a highly restrictive manner and access can be limited to very few people. Most competitive intelligence systems limit access to: Those who can contribute to the database either by inputting facts or commentary Those who have the ability to use the output from the database This does not include all staff and minimises the risk of staff passing intelligence contained on the system out to third parties. This process can be far more effective in stimulating a dialogue between intelligence gatherer and intelligence user than any system can achieve on its own. 'Need to know' does not mean need to know everything that is on the competitive intelligence system any more than the existence of a system will ensure that those that need to consult it will actually do so. Access to Competitive Intelligence Competitive intelligence needs to be accessed by all staff involved in the development of corporate strategy by senior marketing management.
Use does not necessarily mean effectiveness but if staff members are demanding increasing amounts of intelligence as part of the process by which they make decisions and formulate their plans. Most of the indicators are qualitative though in some instances it is possible to use quantitative measures. Many competitive intelligence departments have been set up as profit rather than cost centres and cross-charge for their services. Management therefore has to rely on a series of separate indicators in order to determine whether the investment in competitive intelligence is worthwhile. This assumption can be made more tangible by asking users to pay for intelligence. it is reasonable to assume that they feel it is making a contribution.when special requests are made does the system provide a response within an acceptable timescale? Timing . Quality of intelligence provided 2. but ability of competitive intelligence department to charge the user departments is an indication that CI is working for the company. The five key indicators of the effectiveness of competitive intelligence are: 1. Reviewing the output of the competitive intelligence department can test all of these. A further refinement of the assessment is the extent to which demand is sustained through periods of recession.Unfortunately it is rarely possible to detect a direct correlation between the use of competitive intelligence and company performance. Event analysis 4. There are examples of competitive intelligence departments that 129 .does the intelligence normally prove to be accurate? Depth . Market share Quality of Intelligence Provided In order to be effective. Development of an intelligence culture 3. The key questions that should be asked regularly are: Accuracy .is the intelligence provided sufficiently detailed to facilitate the definition of counter measures? Relevance .is the intelligence received with sufficient lead-time for the company to make effective plans? Comprehensiveness . Use being made of competitive intelligence.does the intelligence cover topics that are relevant to the day-to-day management of our business? Responsiveness . Willingness to spend money on a productive activity is understood. competitive intelligence must be of sufficient depth and quality to make a contribution to decisions and must also be sufficiently timely to eliminate surprises.how frequently do events occur that were not flagged in advance by the competitive intelligence system? How frequently are we taken by surprise? Use Being Made of Competitive Intelligence The primary indicator of whether competitive intelligence is working for an organisation is the extent to which it is being used and the build-up of demand for intelligence.
This works in a negative as well as a positive sense. A lack of intelligence that would have helped win a sale is simple to determine. who might prefer to attribute successes to their personal capabilities and failures than to things happening elsewhere in the company. to take an overall view of the contribution of competitive intelligence.have been established and heavily promoted internally and that have built up a loyal group of users within the company. However. but when the analysis is brought down to each individual skirmish the role of intelligence is usually evident. at the first sign of problems and a reduction in departmental budgets. This demands a certain amount of openness on the part of sales teams. it is equally possible for users of competitive intelligence to lose market share! 130 . It is much easier to ignore competitors when markets are growing.' made? Evidence of how intelligence would have worked had it been available is just as powerful a justification as evidence of successes. at a tactical level an analysis of orders won and lost can show whether the availability of intelligence contributed to the wins and a lack of intelligence contributed to the losses. Event Analysis Although it is difficult. This level of dispensability suggests a service that is regarded as being peripheral to performance rather than essential. Market Share The ultimate expression of successful competitive action is growth in market share. How often is the statement 'if only I had known …. A strong intelligence culture is one in which: Large numbers of staff contribute intelligence on competitors and business trends to their corporate system Intelligence is always demanded before decisions are made at all levels of the company Staff who are not permitted access to intelligence make strong representations in order to gain access Victories over competitors are strongly celebrated The acid test is whether a proposed withdrawal of the system or service would produce howls of rage or a whimper. If this happens it is an extremely harsh judgment on the perceived effectiveness of competitive intelligence. Unfortunately.. Indeed one of the main triggers to the establishment of a competitive intelligence function is a major loss that has been incurred by being taken unawares by competitive action. At first the demand may be driven by the novelty of the service as much as by its usefulness. intelligence of all types can be an early casualty. Competition strengthens in times of recession and this is the very time when the intelligence can make its most valuable contribution. Development of an Intelligence Culture The third indicator of the effectiveness of competitive intelligence is the extent to which an intelligence culture builds up within a company. companies that make active use of competitive intelligence and achieve sustained growth in their market share can normally see some connection. if not impossible. Although this can never be attributed entirely to better knowledge of the competitive environment.
The civilian version of counter-espionage is used to counter the threat to businesses arising from: Industrial espionage using conventional and electronic techniques Bribery of staff Extortion Kidnapping of key executives Sabotage Counter-espionage uses physical and electronic methods and is every bit as rough and ready as the espionage it seeks to prevent. all of which are designed to prevent the theft of equipment and documents. perimeter surveillance. it is normally into the realms of counter-espionage and not counter-intelligence. Their objective is to restrict 131 . to prevent information leaks by stopping staff overstepping the mark when talking to third parties and to control the outflow of sensitive information from third parties associated with the company is barely recognised. Counter-intelligence is altogether subtler and has to be capable of dealing with intrusions that are neither illegal nor unethical. A failure to control competitive intelligence activities may have serious consequences but is rarely elevated to the realms of being a disaster. Whilst it can use barriers to prevent an exodus of information. They are most closely associated with gate guarding. logging of visitors on and off the sites and night patrols. that counter-espionage cannot afford to fail. These departments play a policing role and are often staffed by ex-policemen. and therefore one of the key differences between counter-espionage and counter-intelligence (as defined for this book). Those countering competitive intelligence generally recognise that it is impossible to eliminate the outflow of information from their companies and counterintelligence programmes are not designed to do so. Counter-intelligence programmes represent a partial but essential defence against competitive intelligence and they should not be confused with counter-espionage. This is particularly true in companies who themselves make no significant use of competitive intelligence. In most companies responsibility for preventing the loss of secret or sensitive information is in the hands of corporate security. The most common security role is to control access and thereby prevent incursions by those who do not have a legitimate purpose on the company's sites. In the world of espionage. The adoption of procedures to counter competitive intelligence is in its infancy. they must be placed in company procedures and in the minds of staff. If security does develop a wider mandate. not across the entry points to sites. It is also true. The losses caused by successful competitive intelligence could be many times this figure since competitive intelligence is much more widely practiced than theft. The need for specific programmes to vet the information flowing out of the company. failure spells disaster.UNIT 11 Counter-Intelligence PricewaterhouseCoopers have estimated that in 1999 the theft of proprietary information cost Fortune 1000 companies $45 billion.
The value of counter-intelligence programmes is not restricted to defence. just possibly. counter-intelligence should be formally structured. Counter-intelligence therefore focuses not on information but on the channels that competitors can exploit in order to profile their organisation's activities. product categories or distribution channels) ♦ The purpose of the attack ♦ The scale of the attack (if a substantial exercise is being carried out this suggests that it is being used to underpin major competitive action) ♦ The timing of the attack Counter-intelligence can therefore make an important contribution to the counter-attack. Informal activity is neither expected to be effective nor is it likely to be applied consistently. The Basic Steps Counter-intelligence can be constructed as a nine-step programme as set out below. The requirements for each step and the amount of resources allocated to it depend on the nature and scale of the competitive intelligence programmes that are being mounted and the subject companies' interpretation of what is at risk. The Structure of Counter-Intelligence Activity Like any other serious business activity. Whilst it is true that serious intelligence breaches will result in a heightened sensitivity to the need to prevent information passing out of the company. Assign responsibility for counter-intelligence programmes Identify the potential sources of competitive intelligence threats. In addition to providing an early warning of a competitive attack. Identify the means by which the intelligence can be sought Identify and assess the vulnerabilities Categorise information 132 . to confuse competitors by using misinformation programmes. .information outflows to that which is essential for them to trade emc11vely. Counterintelligence activities themselves provide useful competitive intelligence. knowledge that a competitor is targeting the organisation and the types of information they are seeking may also provide an indication of: ♦ The source of the attack ♦ The subject of the attack (for example. To a very significant extent the vulnerabilities in any organization lie in the channels through which information can pass to the outside world. to protect information until it is too late for competitors to use it effectively and. which should be the inevitable response to any competitive action. this does not usually last long unless programmes are in place to ensure that vigilance is maintained. resourced and provided with an 'activity champion' or team.
those occupying market leadership positions. In order to meet these objectives it is necessary to assign responsibility for counterintelligence and to establish an alert system into which all information relating to possible competitive intelligence activities is fed. unless there is . Whilst an assumption of intelligence activity may be reasonable. not all direct enquiries are easy to link to intelligence-gathering. those using or producing the most advanced technology. enquiries by seemingly genuine customers will not normally be regarded as suspicious. This can be a manual system or a software solution designed to capture relevant information. analyse it and search for patterns of activity. Responsibility for counter-intelligence can be assigned in various ways. For example. typically the largest. 133 . For example. Some attacks leave no trace. the most innovative. the intensity of the attack will vary over time and it is always useful to know when intelligence-gathering activity is gathering pace. the most profitable and those growing the fastest should always assume that one or more of their competitors is seeking information on their activities.an obvious incompatibility between the enquirer and the information being requested. Some companies. The nature of a competitive intelligence attack means that the whole company must be involved in the counter-intelligence programme. The key organisational aspects of counter-intelligence are: The fact that competitive intelligence can be extremely difficult to detect means that counter-intelligence operations must be consciously organised if they are going to be in any way effective Counter-intelligence programmes must be in place and working continuously regardless of whether a competitive attack is underway or not. However. there is no mechanism that will automatically alert the company to the fact that intelligence is being collected. it is not always possible to determine that an intelligence-gathering exercise is actually being carried out. Furthermore.Reduce the chances of intelligence being obtained Test the counter-intelligence system Monitor the threat Publicise willingness to take action Assigning Responsibility for Counter-Intelligence Programmes For most companies it is reasonable to assume that at some stage they will be the target of an intelligence gathering programme. Any intensification of information-collection activity may provide early warning of a competitive attack and may also suggest that the company is treading on some delicate toes in the marketplace and forcing them into retaliatory action. when data are being collected by methods that require no contact with the company or its close affiliates. The only safe assul1!ption is that all employees are likely to be targeted as sources of intelligence and all of them must therefore be made aware of the fact and made party to the counter-intelligence programme.
This approach is not ideal since their existing roles are already likely to be quite demanding.option to implement. such as the Director of Public Affairs: This is an option but good PR staff are better at getting messages across to the various 'publics' they need to address than restricting the outflows of information. possibly the head of competitive or business intelligence. Broaden the mandate of the head of security beyond the responsibility for physical security. of information about the company. since few such specialists exist. The options to be considered are: Recruit a counter-intelligence specialist to coordinate the programme. they do not normally have the right temperament or experience to deal. The next-best option is to train a recruit into the job. it would ensure that counter-intelligence becomes integrated with the competitive and business intelligence-gathering processes and therefore that the threats exposed by counter-intelligence programmes are fed into the competitive strategy and acted on. These would include the following: Ensure that all written documents passing out of the company are vetted in order to ascertain that they do not contain details which are unnecessarily revealing or data which would permit external analysts to deduce 'the plans and strategies of the company. the tasks of the head of the counter-intelligence operation would need to be all-embracing if effectiveness were to be assured. This is the best but most difficult . with the multiplicity of methods by which information can leak out of an organization. 134 . Once recruited. This is an option but depends on the character of the incumbent and their ability to handle the subtleties of counter-intelligence in-addition to the more physical (and sometimes more pressing) demands of access control and general policing activities. Assign responsibility to the staff member responsible for controlling the dissemination. Assign responsibility to an existing staff member who is close to intelligencegathering operations. However. The vetting process can be delegated to those in a position to determine whether the information contained in documents and websites is too explicit. but there is no simple or obvious method of coping with the problem. Whilst the ex-police and military personnel commonly used for security are generally able to recognise an intruder.depending on the likely scale of the threat. the amount of damage that an information leak could inflict and the resources that are available. The most useful staff in this context are: − − − − Competitive intelligence analysts Business intel1igence staff Strategic planners Marketing planners all of whom are likely to be able to distinguish the latent threats in any information provided.
An obvious first step to determine how serious companies are about studying their competitors is to check whether they have appointed staff with a responsibility for competitive intelligence. Identifying the Potential Sources of Threat The effectiveness of counter-intelligence programmes is enhanced considerably if the probable sources of attacks can be anticipated in advance. Record and analyse competitive intelligence contacts Produce regular reports which identify: The intensity of competitive intel1igence calls The probable originators of the cal1s The types of information being sought Analyse the findings to identify the probable implications of the intelligence activity Define whether those suspected of col1ecting intelligence have the capability to use it and. ought to be considering entering the business.Ensure that al1 staff are briefed on the dangers of competitive intelligence and are ful1y aware of: − − Who they can disclose information to What information they can disclose Ensure that staff are sufficiently well-informed to recognise contacts from external sources which may be designed to collect intelligence Brief staff on the types of contacts which are likely to be suspicious Brief staff on the situations in which they are most likely to receive calls soliciting competitive intelligence Ensure that staff know that they need to report suspected competitive intel1igence contacts Establish a reporting system to which all staff have access and through which they can communicate their findings and suspicions. They are likely to be known competitors. Sometimes this can be as simple as examining the annual 135 . It is not too difficult to identify the main companies that could be seeking intelligence. their past history and their needs. companies that have revealed an interest in entering the business and companies who. by nature of their skill base. the impact it could have on the business Assess the need for deception programmes and their practicality. In these cases the counter-intelligence process must itself identify the sources of threat. The difficulty arises with companies that have no current links with the business but may nevertheless see it as a diversification opportunity. This can be based on e-mail or via' a dedicated software system. if successful.
Sales and marketing teams need to be briefed to provide a regular flow of information on current and potential competitors active in the market and any indications that they are actively studying their competition. The most likely candidates are: Companies servicing the same client base who have the technical capability to enter the market Companies with technology that is capable of meeting customer needs but not currently used in the market Monitor market trends in order to determine whether fundamental changes are taking place in demand that would open up the market to new competitors Monitor supply technologies in order to determine whether new suppliers have acquired the means of entering the business 136 . The key points in the briefing will overlap with those set out for engaging sales teams in collecting competitive intelligence. More commonly. However. exists. which lists members.directory of the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals. If a functional responsibility is located it is reasonable to assume that they are monitoring all of their competitors. namely: Identify the competitors most frequently encountered in the market and report continuously on their current activities Maintain a constant watch for information (rumours. gossip and evidence of intensifying (or diminishing) activity) indicating that current competitors are becoming more (or less) interested in the business Identify competitors that have a presence in the market but a low market share Seek information that suggests whether they will become more active in the business or whether they are likely to exit the market Collect and report any information that suggests that companies not active in the business are considering market entry. Competitive intelligence may be the part-time responsibility of a member of the marketing or market research team or they could be using external consultants. Detecting whether a competitor is using consultants is extremely difficult. the absence of an internal function does not necessarily mean that they are uninterested in their competitors. Whilst it is possible to limit the amount of intelligence the specialists can gather it is rarely possible to do better than guess who their clients are. but should also involve strategic and business planning teams that are considering the future evolution of the business. those practicing the art within companies do not like to advertise their presence by joining a society. in which case calls to competitors could be used to establish whether the function. or a near relative such as business intelligence. No competitive intelligence consultant publishes a list of Clients and they use a variety of techniques to conceal their intent and the identity of those that have hired them. The identification of potential threats will rely heavily on information gathered by marketing and sales teams who are in the front line of contacts with the market.
Primary intelligence collection. This is partly because sales representatives' natural paranoia may cause them to identify threats that are far from realistic and partly because it is difficult to encourage them to share information that they might be able to use for personal advantage. in a more covert world. They are equally difficult to use in counterintelligence. All primary intelligence activities leave a trace of one kind or another. the answer is to draw them into the company's intelligence community and to permit them to help define competitive intelligence objectives and use the results of competitive analysis. sales and marketing teams are difficult resources to use in the connection of competitive intelligence. Indeed the more innocuous and innocent they seem the less likely they are to be detected. 'spies'. intelligence obtained directly from sources within the company.e. largely in the form of the identity of the individual making the enquiries.As previously noted. The only defence is to assume that everything that is published by and about the company will fall into the hands of the competition and its content modulated accordingly. Their engagement in counter-intelligence will flow naturally from the same process. Intelligence that is collected entirely from secondary sources is impossible to detect. Whilst some of those practicing competitive intelligence might like to think of themselves as James Bond. who should be looked for? The list of titles that are used for competitive intelligence-gathering fall into two categories: those that are -close enough to the truth to be regarded as legitimate description of the caller and those that are a misrepresentation of the caller's true identity: (a) Actual or near representation Market researchers Business consultants Management consultants Staff of the competitors themselves (b) Misrepresentation Students (carrying out research for a thesis) Head-hunters Recruitment specialists Actual or potential customers Journalists 137 . i. As with competitive intelligence. most competitive intelligence is gathered by individuals with far more modest ambitions and even more mundane titles. is a different matter. Identifying the Means by Which Intelligence is Being Sought The word intelligence is usually associated with 'agents' or. If not James Bond..
counter-intelligence activities can themselves provide valuable competitive intelligence. do not subscribe to the code of conduct which constrains the activities of competitive intelligence professionals. Conducting market research surveys is becoming increasingly difficult as companies instruct staff not to speak to outsiders under any circumstances. The most obvious tell-tale signs that an intelligence exercise is under way are: Calls to staff from previously unknown sources and with motives that seem vague or unbelievable and who are unusually persistent An overdose of visitors to the company's exhibition stands An increase in the number of contacts with the sales force by the sales representatives of rival companies Requests for information from organisations that claim to be acting for an unnamed client Requests from students. Although secure. A common response is to ban all discussions with third parties unless their bona fides are proven or senior management approval is given. although they will rarely undertake tasks which are illegal. Obviously they cannot make calls disclosing that they are employed by a competitive intelligence agency seeking information for a competitor. corporate investigators and individual consultants who. A further reason for avoiding outright bans is that. On the other hand a statement to the effect that they are market researchers or business consultants seeking information for a report on a market and the activities on the businesses operating within it is close enough to the truth to satisfy most consciences. if dealt with correctly. Misrepresentation is harder to deal with and is most likely to be practised by private detective agencies. However. This includes establishing dummy companies. since this would reduce their chances of gathering anything useful to zero. The code of ethics under which legitimate competitive intelligence professionals collect data states that they must not misrepresent themselves. it is equally important for both customers and suppliers that the needs of the former are fully understood by the latter and frustrating the process by which this information is collected systematically and cost-effectively is to nobody's advantage. These individuals may go to considerable lengths to support their deception. placing false job advertisements or having articles published in the media.The first group includes those who present themselves legitimately but who fail to disclose the full purpose of their enquiries. It does not state that they must explain precisely why the enquiries are being made and on whose behalf. journalists and unknown consultants 138 . The middle path is to train staff to recognise potentially suspicious call and to funnel them to a central department capable of probing the reasons for calls. deciding which are genuine and controlling the outflow in information. They are also not averse to paying for information. this approach risks alienating potential customers and frustrating a number of business activities from which most companies benefit from time to time. allocating dedicated telephone lines to receive return calls. Most staff will have considerable difficulty in distinguishing genuine enquiries from those whose purpose is the collection of intelligence.
official reporting requirements or the need to communicate effectively with customers. Many of the secondary sources are essential. The key vulnerabilities in all organizations lie in: All information issued by the company and about the company Corporate databases and knowledge management systems People Physical surveillance Accidental loss of documents and data Deductions Published information and official filings The first task in any search for information on companies is to examine all published sources. their content dictated by legislation. The sources that can be searched include all those listed in Chapters 6 and 7. An upturn in market research activity within the customer base Initiation of contacts by staff in competitive organisations or an upturn in contacts from rival company staff who are already in touch Requests from anyone who refuses to leave a return telephone number The main difficulty arises from the fact that much of this activity will pass unnoticed unless it is so blatant that it cannot fail to be commented on or the company is geared up to detect suspicious activity. 139 . The task can be exceptionally difficult because the number of areas of weakness can be huge. Intelligence experts scour a wide range of sources for descriptions of companies' activities and the tiniest clues to strategy. shareholders and business partners. However. which over time builds up to an increasingly precise portrait of an organisation.Invitations to share information with the staff of competitors Enquiries from potential customers which contain requests for detailed or unusual information An increase in calls from head-hunters (not easy to spot since staff rarely report approaches by head-hunters). much of the information that is disseminated does not play an essential role in the business process and has more to do with corporate and individual pride or an over-inflated view of the need for openness. Identifying and Assessing the Vulnerabilities A major task for the counter-intelligence unit is to assess the areas of vulnerability in the company. The most advanced may apply techniques such as semiology to advertisements in order to detect how competitors perceive themselves. Even the most innocuous statements and the smallest items of information may add pieces to a jigsaw puzzle.
People After the published sources. The transfer of much of this material to the Internet serves only to exacerbate the problem. liberated from restraints imposed by cost and space. stupidity. A combination of personal characteristics . Staff In all companies the main threat arises from the staff. pride. principally: Telephonists Receptionists Call centres Sales and marketing 140 . Very few staff had access to anything approaching a complete database of information. appear to have gone mad and include a variety of documentation on their sites which exposes the company to inspection by outsiders on a scale not previously practical. with friends.including unawareness. The more traditional ways of disseminating information pose no less of a risk. envy and anger . even though they may less accessible. Although this enhances their ability to perform their jobs it also increases the risk that data will be accessed and passed on to third parties. their work and the company that employs them. Some of the worst offenders are executives who forget the need for security when confronted with a microphone or a journalist's notebook. Others do it at all forms of social and business gatherings. Controlling the volume and quality of information passed out about an organisation by word of mouth is the most difficult challenge in counter-intelligence. the softest targets in an intelligence gathering exercise are people. arrogance. Some corporate web designers. The materials disseminated at exhibitions and trade shows. There is also great value to be derived from brochures and catalogues distributed as part of the sales process. with other passengers on airlines or trains. at conferences. Corporate databases and knowledge management systems are changing this situation by creating a central record that is accessible by large numbers of staff.The Internet has expanded the availability of information available about companies exponentially and the companies themselves originate a high proportion of what is available. A common factor in business all over the world is that people like to talk about themselves. as can the content of papers presented by staff at conferences and professional meetings. on training courses and in open seminars can be valuable source documents. The staff members those are most exposed to competitive intelligence activities are those whose role includes contact with outsiders. Corporate databases and knowledge management systems In the past companies have been to some extent protected by the fact that information was fragmented throughout the organisation.can induce them to reveal information that is commercially sensitive. at the hairdresser indeed in any situation where the alternative is standing or sitting silently in groups. at exhibitions.
telephone conversation. they should be more alert when questioned .such as investors. The same question from an unknown enquirer on the telephone should normally produce a negative response. distributors and suppliers Direct and indirect contact with various external stakeholders and others with an interest in the company . Some of the most significant intelligence coups have arisen inadvertently from conversations between staff members that have been overheard. e-mail or fax) all influence the willingness to respond to questions. the situation in which the information is requested and the method of communicating (face to face. brokers' analysts and journalists Manning exhibition stands Participation in conferences Fellow passengers .though it would be most unwise to rely on this observation. conferences and exhibitions tend to desensitize the critical facilities to the point at which fellow delegates and stand visitors often receive responses to the most impertinent questions. The very fact that they are not normally questioned by outsiders may mean that they are less aware of the dangers of revealing information. plans and performance on the grapevine that exists in all organisations. For the competitive analyst seemingly innocuous information can be extremely useful when piecing together a profile of a competitor.Maintenance Installation Warehouse staff Delivery staff Customer service staff PR/Corporate Affairs Other staff can also be exposed but since external contact is the exception rather than the rule. However. These include: Day-to-day contact with customers. providing it was the type of information a customer needed to have or could legitimately ask out of curiosity about a supplier. All staff are party to the information that they need to have in order 10 do their jobs. Telephone operators who might readily recognise the inadvisability of disclosing some hearsay that the company was in financial difficulties would not necessarily see any harm in revealing the number of staff on the site. This may not always be particularly sensitive but in addition to the information that they know of officially they also hear details of company activities. potential customers. Few would hesitate to respond to a direct question from a known customer during a sales meeting.particularly on aircraft The identity of the enquirer. the identity of key managers or the absence or presence of specific operating departments. The difficulty with most staff lies in their inability to recognise what is sensitive and what is not. Staff in the front line of contact with outsiders can be asked for information in a wide variety of situations. Others have resulted 141 . despite the fact that their credentials have never been established.
Clearly it is a major piece of bad luck if you happen to be sitting next to a staff member from a competitor or someone working on their behalf. Ex-staff Ex-staff can be a major area of vulnerability. Apart from highprofile cases.from conversations between complete strangers who happen to be travelling together. For example. Major intelligence coups have also resulted from accidents and carelessness rather than cleverness on the part of the intelligence gatherers. The usefulness of the information they hold in their heads or even in any documents they may have taken with them diminishes as time passes. at restaurant tables and on park benches have all been gratefully received by intelligence gatherers at some stage in the past. These include: Joint venture partners Advisers . Others are more inclined to discuss the companies they deal with and some. This process can cause maximum damage since the information they have is current. may see a positive benefit in sharing information. such as brokers' analysts.would be difficult information sources to attack since their profession requires them to protect the confidentiality of their clients. Briefcases and papers left in taxis. ex-staff are not always easy to locate. particularly senior staff members who have left the company under some form of cloud or nursing a grievance. but the forces which bring people together are often related to the fact that they have some common interest. consultants. When considering associates and customers it is always worth remembering that only occasionally do customers and suppliers owe any real allegiance to the companies they deal with. However. The main protection from damage inflicted by previous employees passing on information is time. Not surprisingly. companies regularly debrief new recruits who have previously worked for competitors. Associates and customers The most difficult group of individuals and organisations to control are those that are outside the company but nevertheless party to information about the company's activities.most notably the professions . in telephone booths. an above-average proportion of travellers to a destination in which an industry conference is being held will have an interest in that industry. lawyers.such as banks. This is resulting in a substantial number of published CVs which can be searched by previous employment record. 142 . advertising agencies and PR companies Customers Suppliers Trade press journalists Stockbrokers' analysts Some of these . the chances of finding them are increasing not only because they commonly move on to companies active in the same or similar businesses but also because of the growing use of the Internet as a recruitment medium.
at restaurant tables and on park benches have all been gratefully received by intelligence gatherers at some stage in the past. its products. there is even more that cannot. even for public companies. These processes. 143 . that can be seen externally and the staff that it employs. The most common accidents that afflict companies are: Lost documents Lost laptop computers Misdirected faxes Overheard conversations and phone calls Physical Surveillance Although some forms of physical surveillance are illegal. Briefcases and papers left in taxis. scenarios. Whilst it is wrong for competitors to 'organise' accidents and it is bordering on unethical to use information that falls into their hands accidentally. such as transport. Products can be purchased and 'reverse engineered' in order to identify the technology that has been employed. which include brainstorming.For example. those of its activities. Deductions The element of competitive intelligence that is virtually impossible to control is the use of fragmentary information as a basis for deductions about a competitor's strategy. However. Transport fleets can be counted. an above-average proportion of travellers to a destination in which an industry conference is being held will have an interest in that industry. periodic releases to shareholders and articles written by or about the company and its senior personnel. measuring and appraising can produce valuable intelligence when applied to a company's facilities. Observing. Company sites can be measured and what is going on within the site can be observed from the air and even by satellite. Some elements of strategy may be publicly articulated. Although much of what a company’s activities can be hidden from public gaze. Accidents Accidents plague all organisations and some are bound to result in information finding its way to competitors. can produce credible and sometimes surprisingly accurate simulations of competitors' positioning and strategy. The calibre of staff can be assessed at public meetings and exhibitions. as in items contained in annual and quarterly reports. inward shipments of goods can be observed. in telephone booths. To gain insight into their competitors' strategies analysts have devised or adapted a number of tools to put together plausible additions to the incomplete data they have collected. and a variety of computer models. the onus is on companies to protect their secrets and if they leak accidentally they cannot be too surprised if the information is used against them. others are not and are used regularly within the competitive intelligence process. these rarely add up to a comprehensive statement of strategy and there is usually nothing available at all for the large number of private companies. Major intelligence coups have also resulted from accidents and carelessness rather than cleverness on the part of the intelligence gatherers. counting. war gaming.
In order to mount a realistic defence it is therefore essential to classify company information according to its sensitivity. The practice of prohibiting switchboards to route calls to staff unless the caller knows the name of the person they are trying to contact may seem like a laudable and justifiable barrier particularly as a means of preventing calls from head-hunters . friendlier source of supply. and cause loss of business. Information which does not need to pass to third parties but is not worth defending 4.Categorise Information As set out above it is not practical to protect all information within an organisation.but what is a genuine customer likely to do when confronted with a potential supplier that appears to be impenetrable? He usually gives up and seeks an alternative. Information that must remain completely confidential and defended at all cost 2. in particular customers. The school of thought which says that making it difficult and therefore costly for competitors to obtain even the simplest information ignores the fact that those processes may alienate others. Company information can be categorised into four bands: 1. Information which must pass to third parties The criteria by which information is allocated to each category should include not only the damage that the knowledge can inflict but also the ease by which it can be obtained by other routes. only that which could do serious harm in the hands of a rival organisation or is assessed as being commercially sensitive. Highly confidential information Strategic and business plans Proprietary company technology (such as product formulations and production technology) R&D projects New product development plans Product launch dates Capacity expansion plans New markets being targeted Acquisition plans 144 . typical categorisations will be as follows. The content of each category will be specific to each company and will also vary by industry sector. However. Defence measures can then be focused on the information that it is essential to protect and time and effort are not wasted on blocking competitor access to information which is not worth defending. Information that the company would prefer not to pass into competitors' hands but is not worth a 'spare no expense' defence 3. Defending information incurs a cost and there is little point in paying for defence mechanisms that can be easily circumvented.
Planned divestments Segmentation strategy and target markets Sales by product line Sales by customer group Customer lists Future pricing plans Discount policy Future distribution plans Promotional plans (advertising. below the line and PR) Moderately confidential informnation Staff breakdowns by division Staff qualifications Key customer accounts Suppliers of raw materials Equipment suppliers Production equipment installed Subcontractors used Packaging suppliers Volumes of packaging used Importance of each of the distribution channels used Guarantee policy Staff training methods Exhibition plans Future sponsorship plans Exports (volume and countries serviced) Information not worth defending Staff numbers Key executives Ownership Organisational structure Production locations Patents and licences held 145 .
Distribution channels Advertising media used Advertising expenditure Exhibitions attended Sponsorships Overseas subsidiaries Information which must be provided to third parties Current product specifications Technical literature Impending new product launches requiring advanced publicity Claimed product advantages Product availability Supply points (retail and wholesale) Prices and discount structures Support services Maintenance services Guarantees offered Reducing the Chances of Intelligence Being Obtained It should be clear from what has been said above that it is impossible to protect all information. Much of the information that flows out of any organisation is an essential part of the processes by which it does business. no superfluous or highly sensitive information is contained. in as far as possible. confined to those that appreciate its value and can be trusted not to divulge it That staff members and others associated with the company are apprised and well briefed about the dangers of competitive intelligence and handle their relationships with outsiders with due care Written information audit All written information produced by the company must be reviewed in order to ensure that. The requirement for counterintelligence is to minimise the outflow of information that is commercially sensitive and to try to ensure that it does not get into the hands of the competition. The audit must cover: 146 . The main lines of defence are to ensure: Close scrutiny of all written information produced by the company That sensitive information is. whilst meeting the purpose for which it is required. nor is it desirable to do so.
Press. Natural curiosity about the organisation they work for and a moderately active grapevine generally ensures that information circulates through unofficial channels more quickly than it can be disseminated officially. increase enthusiasm and improve productivity. SEBI and Stock Exchange filings) Brochures Newsletters Recruitment advertisements Directory entries Exhibition guide entries Everything published by the company on the Internet must be the subject of the audit as well as hard-copy documents. and to instruct staff that no information should be released beyond that contained in the documents. Staff should be told to assume that everything they write or discuss with third parties could find its way to a competitor and its content should be judged accordingly. taken to an extreme. between themselves. Limiting the availability of information 'Need to know' is a basic rule of intelligence that ensures that staff has access only to the information they need for the roles they fill. An increasing number of companies are enshrining this instruction in their terms of employment. it is the day-to-day actions by staff that determine the extent to which intelligence will leak out of the organisation. the result is that staff is party to more of the type of information which could damage the company if it was passed to competitors. Furthermore. ROC. Whatever the company policy. thus giving them the power to discipline staff members who are found to be in breach of standard operating procedures. Whatever the theory and its impact on performance. . it is extremely difficult to apply in a civilian organisation mainly because. this approach could stifle the company's ability to do business. Extreme measures like incarceration cannot be applied today and management must rely on careful staff briefings to instil the discipline that will minimise information outflows. All information passed to any of these groups immediately enters the public domain and it must be assumed that it will inevitably find its way to competitors. participation and consultation will encourage staff to pull together within the company.Official filings which must enter the public domain (such as Annual Reports. However. The solution is to develop a body of information that it is acceptable to release to outsiders. staff does not normally conform to security practices that are applied regularly in the military. However. where it was virtually impossible for them to meet outsiders and disclose information. 147 . for whatever purpose. It is felt that openness. analyst and shareholder briefings must be carefully controlled. Customers and distributors will generally react badly if a supplier displays a tendency to paranoia. Venetian glass manufacturers sought to protect their secrets by confining their staff to the island of Murano. the current thrust of employee relations and initiatives such as Investors in People is to encourage employers to make staff party to business plans and the strategic direction of the company that employs them.
This can give some measure of control over who sees the data No interviews can be given to journalists (for the national or trade press) unless the company has the right to review the content of the resulting article and to exclude from it any information that is subsequently thought to be dangerous Copies of al1 internal documents should be numbered so that in the event of a leak the source can (possibly) be traced Keep copies of al1 sensitive documents in locked cabinets Password-protect al1 computer files and strictly control access to the passwords Documents must not be taken off the company's premises unless for a purpose for which the document was designed Conversations Conversations with third parties constitute a major risk and the onus is on al1 staff to verify the bona fides of the individuals making requests for information. establish that the reasons for the enquiries are genuine and regulate what they say. Whilst there is some control over the distribution of company documents. This should include: The name of the company The company's location The telephone number and the extension to cal1 back to The business in which the company is active Verify the identity and job function of the person cal1ing Ask for a clear explanation of why the information is being requested and the purpose to which it is being put 148 . The basic ground rules should be as fol1ows: Verify the credentials of al1 organisations whose staff approach you for information. there is absolutely no control over access to public sites on the Internet If the Internet is felt to be a useful method of distributing information.Documents Documents released by the company have been identified as a major potential source of vulnerability and must be prepared and handled accordingly.superfluous information increases the chances that valuable intelligence will be divulged All information published on open Internet sites must be treated even more carefully than published documents. consider the use of closed sites with access by password only. Some simpler rules to follow are: All documents for release outside the company should be vetted to ensure that they contain the minimum information to meet the needs of the purpose for which they are designed .
either establish the bona fides of the intermediary and that the client's use of them is genuine or refuse to provide information and suggest that the client company makes direct contact Test the responses given for accuracy by asking a few simple questions. ask for written confirmation (letter. if the enquirer states that the information is required for a market survey ask the name of the sponsor of the survey. A major part of their role is to provide clients and potential clients with information that will convince them that the product or service will meet their needs and that the company is a credible supplier. For example. fax or e-mail) stating the information required and the purpose to which it will be put Check with close colleagues to see if similar calls have been received Report all suspicious calls to the staff member responsible for counterintelligence. the aspects of the market that are to be analysed and the sources of information that arc being used. Their primary task is rarely easy and they generally feel that they need all the help they can get. If the identity is not revealed. This commonly happens when they are confronted with a customer who is 149 .If the information is said to be required for another organisation ask for the identity of that organisation. In fulfilling this role there is an ever-present temptation to maximise the information they provide and step over the boundary of what is reasonable. regardless of whether any response has been given reporting: The timing of the call The identity of the caller The stated reason for the request The information requested The reason for suspicion The action taken Briefing sales staff Sales staff (working in the field and in telesales centres) is a major source of vulnerability. (Note: a genuine market researcher will normally volunteer this information al the outset) No interviews can be given to journalists (for the national or trade press) unless the company has the right to review the content of the resulting article and to exclude from it any information that is subsequently thought to be dangerous Copies of all internal documents should be numbered so that in the event of a leak the source can (possibly) be traced Keep copies of all sensitive documents in locked cabinets Password-protect all computer files and strictly control access to the passwords Documents must not be taken off the company's premises unless for a purpose for which the document was designed If not satisfied that the reason for requesting the information is genuine.
There is an additional risk that sales staff will be less discriminating in whom they provide information to. those whose interest is judged to be casual should be provided minimal information but more information can be provided as the level of interest in buying increases Establish 'levels of interest milestones' which you will use as pointers for the provision of more detailed information. indicates that they could be a buyer may be able to access intelligence from members of the sales force. this is not true if it results in sensitive information being channelled to competitors All three groups can be very demanding in terms of the level of disclosure they seek Whilst analysts and shareholders can be assumed to have a healthy interest in the performance of the company. require additional guidelines of which the most important are: It is generally assumed that all publicity is good publicity. Their primary concern is to sell their newspapers or magazines and in this respect detailed and 150 . the desire to create a favourable impression that will result in an improvement in the share price (or the success of a floatation or a placement of shares with investors) needs to balanced against the dangers that will arise from the information passing into the hands of competitors The interest of the press in a company is usually less benign. analyst and shareholder briefings Those staff members whose role is to deal with the press and. even during the thrill of the chase for business. Thus anyone who. For example. The sales training process must include a component that provides guidance on recognising genuine prospects and on controlling the levels of information provided.proving difficult to convince and who is asking for increasingly detailed information. In other words. with brokers' analysts and shareholders. The provision of detailed information on the buying organisation Detailed statements of the use to which the product will be put Written specifications or requirements Agreement to a personal meeting to discuss requirements Making some written or financial commitment to buy could all be used as triggers for the release of more detailed information on the product and the supplier Briefing of staff providing press. Sales briefings need to be tailored to each business sector and the company itself but should include instructions such as: Verify that all those who identify themselves as potential customers could legitimately be so Meter the flow of information in accordance with an assessment of how likely business is to result from the contract. the sustainability of performance in the future and the factors which are contributing to performance. in the case of public companies. however vaguely.
the times when especially interesting activities life stalls being mounted and the winding down period at the end of a show. As with the analysts. Briefing of affiliates and customers Affiliates of all kinds are more difficult to brief than staff partly because anything that is said may threaten the relationship and partly because. who suddenly find themselves in the limelight and eager to prove their worth. On exhibition stands it is also difficult to prevent conversations with clients or potential clients being overheard by other visitors. At these times the flow of visitors to stands abates. This could take the form of a reminder that the relationship between a supplier and its customers and affiliates has to be one of mutual trust. It is almost inevitable that in the general excitement of an event and the multiplicity of contacts that are made defences will be lowered. Paradoxically. trade shows and exhibitions on the dangers that are present can tighten defences. This is when intelligence analysts know they can make a kill. Nevertheless it is worth setting out some guidelines in an attempt to control the amount of information they pass on to third parties. trade shows and conferences The exposure to staff questioning by competitors is heightened when they travel off site. The congregation of staff in public areas such as restaurants. Customers and affiliates must also supply sensitive information and it is to the advantage of all parties that confidences are protected. for example by ensuring that all presentations and sensitive discussions are held in private areas and not in the open where they may be overheard and by carefully examining the credentials of all visitors before they are given information. This should take the form of a general briefing to staff likely to attend events and specific briefings before any event at which the company is exhibiting. In order to do business together it must be possible to have a full exchange of information. Briefing staff attending exhibitions. 151 . the level of vulnerability is at its highest in the slack periods. senior staff members leave and the stands are manned by juniors. At exhibitions and trade shows it is often difficult to distinguish between inquirers with a legitimate purpose and those whose objectives are only to obtain intelligence. Exhibitions. including that which is confidential and commercially sensitive and which could cause damage if it got into the hands of competitors. receptions and rest rooms further increases the chances of indiscreet conversations being overheard. Briefing those staff that attends conferences.sensational stories about companies are preferable to bland news items. Simple precautions can reduce some of the problems. in the final analysis. a process that may be exacerbated if alcohol is available. The general briefing is an essential catch-all since counter-intelligence staff may not always have the opportunity to make a specific briefing. trade shows and conferences all provide multiple legitimate opportunities for them to be approached outside the protective cocoon of their offices and internal security systems. the usefulness of press coverage in reaching a wide audience of potential customers and creating a favourable impression of the company must be balanced against the harm that excessive disclosure can do. lunchtimes. there is little that can be done to control what they say.
Briefing staff about to leave the organisation The leavers can only be cautioned' on the inadvisability of revealing company secrets plus a warning that they and their new employer could be held liable should any serious damages arise from their disclosures. Not all of what you have learnt from us will be of use to you. which is a criminal offence It is also worth remembering that you may have been hired only to obtain information and once you have given it you may cease to be useful None of these points will have much effect on those who leave the company harbouring a grievance. We therefore request that you be circumspect in what you say about this company either to your new employer or to third parties It is always inadvisable to disclose information about previous employers too readily. either because they have been fired or because they feel they have been badly treated by the company. even if it appears to be a chance encounter The need for particular discretion when holding conversations with colleagues about business matters Possible methods of recognising intelligence gatherers The standard methods used by intelligence gatherers Methods of establishing the credentials of all questioners before information is supplied without alienating genuine customers The limits of what it is permissible to disclose The briefings could usefully involve the company's own competitive intelligence staff who can impart the tricks of the trade and recount useful war stories of their successes as a warning. For example: We trust that you have enjoyed your time working with the company and that the skills and information you have gained from that experience will stand you in good stead in your future career. These individuals may deliberately seek to damage the company by revealing information. but much of what you know about us could be of high interest to our competitors. remember that passing on trade secrets may be deemed to be theft. Their loyalty will inevitably be to their new employer but there are some appeals that may work t1ver and above the threat of sanctions. Your new employer may regard it as unethical and refuse to accept or use the information you offer and the fact that you offered it may jeopardise your career prospects If asked for information about us.The briefings should cover: The need for all of those attending conferences and exhibitions to exercise great care when engaging in discussions with anyone they meet. 152 .
Customers need to be handled more carefully. but there is no harm in reminding them of their obligation. by commissioning a competitive intelligence exercise on the company itself. The attacks are likely to occur in waves initiated by any event that disturbs the equilibrium in the competitive environment. Supplier and partner agreements can therefore be worded strongly. The exercise needs to be carried out by an intelligence organisation that has no prior knowledge of the company and the effectiveness of the defence system should be judged by: The amount of intelligence that is gathered The accuracy of the intelligence The ease with which the intelligence is collected Any such test is of course a test of the effectiveness of the intelligence gathering organisation as well as of the defence system and a wholly negative result should be treated with caution. Monitoring the Threat Competitive intelligence programmes are rarely one-offs. recognising when programmes are being directed against them and attempting to identify the sources of attack. They are normally mounted at regular intervals either by the same or different competitors. Management and staff must be continuously vigilant. mainly because they stand to lose business if they are found breaking the agreement. such as: 153 . suppliers and business partners. In the case of staff these can be incorporated into the terms of employment.Non-disclosure agreements Management can reinforce its briefings with non-disclosure agreements. spelling out the sanctions that can result from breaches in confidentiality. These will not necessarily stop information disclosure but they will make those that sign them aware of the fact that they have a duty to maintain confidentiality. This means that there can be no let-up in the counter-intelligence programme. Nondisclosure agreements can also be requested from external organisations to whom sensitive information may need to be made available. The threat is continuous. The nondisclosure agreement should typically contain: A statement outlining why confidentiality is required The types of information that are covered by the agreement The types of organisation to which information should not be provided The circumstances under which a release from the agreement may be granted The steps that need to be taken in order to gain a release Suppliers and business partners will tend to take such agreements more seriously than customers. Testing the System Once a counter-intelligence system has been established its effectiveness should be tested regularly. since they can always take their business elsewhere. This can be done quite effectively. where the sanctions that will be applied in the event of any unauthorised disclosure can be spelt out. notably customers.
These systems provide staff with the facility to check how many calls have been received previously from: The same person The same organisation The same telephone number The systems can also log the nature of the enquiry made during each call. have ended up with the press criticising Oracle heavily. packers and advisers To overcome these problems some companies have installed call monitoring systems on which a central record of incoming 'suspicious' calls can be logged and made accessible to all staff. especially in the case of large multi-site organisations Covering contacts with related third parties such as computer suppliers. such as Oracle's attempt to obtain intelligence which proved that Microsoft was funding an apparently independent lobby group to influence the antitrust case against Microsoft.The launch of a new product The introduction of a new production technology (even if thought to be a closely guarded secret) Bids for a major contract Changes in the direction or intensity of marketing activities The emergence of a new competitor in the business The three key problems in spotting an 'intelligence attack' are: Bringing together the data in a way in which changes in the level of activity can be detected Covering attempted contacts with an entire company. 154 . Different staff call from the same company Publicise Willingness to Take Legal Action The failure of the public at large to recognise the real difference between competitive intelligence and industrial espionage provides an opportunity to stifle the more overt activities by publicising any attacks that are detected. Recent high-profile cases (of industrial espionage). The risk of embarrassing disclosures will not stop attempts to gain intelligence but may serve to curb the intensity of the approaches that are used. A high frequency of calls from a specific source can signal an attack but a more significant warning is given when: The same individual calls from different numbers The same telephone number appears for different company names. This resulted from their use of a detective agency that chose to obtain the information by attempting to buy the lobby group's rubbish.
the company from which they have stated they are calling from and the telephone number from which the call is being made have been encountered before The staff members they have spoken to The enquiries they have made 155 . though they have a much closer relationship with counterespionage. before responding: Whether the caller. The scale of the need for dedicated counter-intelligence personnel is driven by: The size of the organisation. vandalism and sabotage largely by preventing unauthorised physical intrusion into the company's sites. In large and small organisations the resources may be the same as those devoted to the collection of competitive intelligence. A close alliance between the two tasks ensures that the information spin-off from counter-intelligence is fully exploited in the competitive intelligence programmes. Security teams are primarily concerned with the prevention of trespass. and therefore the scale of the counter intelligence task The volume and sensitivity of the information to he protected The amount of damage that can be inl1icted by competitors Large. If a security team is employed there is obviously some overlap between their tasks and counter-intelligence. Maintaining physical security requires a totally different skill set to that required for counter-intelligence and there is little real point in trying to combine the two activities. theft. multi-site organisations with substantial volumes of highly sensitive information to protect and whose performance could be very vulnerable to an informed competitive attack should certainly consider a dedicated counter-intelligence manager. Investment systems and software are an additional resource that can be considered only when the scale of the task is sufficiently large and complex to justify the sums involved.Implementation The implementation of each of the steps defined above requires one or more of the following: Investment in people and time Investment in systems and software Staff briefings Changes to employment contracts The resources required for counter-intelligence are primarily people and time. Systems permit any staff member receiving an enquiry from an external source to check. In smaller organisations with lower levels of vulnerability counter-intelligence could be a part time function. The main systems that exist at present monitor incoming telephone calls and analyse them as identified above.
which is one of the standard research tools used in competitive intelligence. These should prohibit the disclosure of all company information to third parties. 156 . The weakest links in the chain are customers and they obviously need to be handled carefully. unless it is essential for the performance of the task being carried out for the company. the means by which they can detect that they are being targeted for intelligence and the actions they should take in the event that they suspect that they are being targeted. suppliers and joint venture partners are dependent on the company for income and stand to lose if they are found in breach of contract. though they are not immune to sanctions if they reveal information that is damaging to their suppliers.Such systems provide a powerful defence against repeated telephoning. Staff and business partner briefings arc required to alert staff and business partners to the dangers of competitive intelligence. Staff. only to add clauses to existing contracts. Changes to contracts can be used to support the staff briefings by giving contractual weight to the need to protect proprietary information. The contracts that need to be considered are: Employment contracts issued to staff Contracts issued to suppliers of raw materials. equipment and services Contracts with joint venture partners If appropriate. contracts with customers and clients It is not necessary to draw up contracts specifically to cover the need to protect proprietary information. Customers are not beholden to the company in the same way.
Deception offers an opportunity to achieve the element of surprise that is so valuable in competitive marketing. it represents a major competitive action in its own right. Deception and misinformation cover all types of information that can be deliberately 'spun' into the marketplace or passed directly to competitors. deception is nevertheless worth considering since. Warfare abounds with examples of deception campaigns that were designed to 'mislead the enemy into doing something. The process is dangerous. These included extra stream tributaries. but also by inducing them to draw incorrect conclusions from such information they do acquire. or not doing something. proved that the AA had made illicit use of its database by planting false information. ♦ There must be channels of communication between the deceiver and the competitors that the deceiver can control. ♦ The company must have a sufficiently secure system to ensure reasonable control of the information flowing out of the company. which sells its database of maps of the country to other map publishers as well as direct to users. it is possible to ensure that the intelligence he does so acquire is misleading or false. so that his strategic or tactical position would be weakened'? These range from the Trojan horse to the elaborate campaigns designed to conceal the fact that the invasion of France in 1944 would commence in Normandy and the deceptive information that is planted in documents on order to trap plagiarists and illicit users.UNIT 12 Deception and Misinformation A major task both of (national) intelligence and security authorities is to hamper the intelligence gathering of unfriendly powers.. and tiny kinks in rivers. exaggerated curves in roads and missing apostrophes in names. if it works. It also includes procedures that shield activities from competitor observation. ♦ The company carrying out the deception programme must have reasonable insight into the intelligence and opinions that competitors hold on them. supplier and partner relationships ♦ Maintaining a consistently deceptive story from all parts of the organisation requires an effort which may be out of all proportion to the impact it will achieve Despite the fact that it is fraught with problems. In a recent case. This is done not only by restricting their intelligence gathering activities. The use of deception and misinformation programmes by companies seems highly attractive but must be treated with care and to be successful three conditions must be fulfilled. primarily because: ♦ Competitors are not the only organisations that could be deceived and harm could be done to customer. Although it is not possible to prevent the enemy from acquiring some information.. imaginary farm buildings. the United Kingdom Ordnance Survey. It is tempting to think that comparable commercial activities could he used to put 157 .
will indicate the deductions that competitors have drawn. An inward-looking competitive intelligence programme will provide a good indication of the intelligence competitors are able to collect and.competitors off their guard or persuade them to waste resources responding to activities that will never take place. Competitors that are not in any way curious about the competitive environment in which they are operating will be difficult to deceive. Those that actively and continuously seek competitive intelligence will provide multiple deception opportunities. In order to provide a platform for a deception programme the company needs to determine what competitors know about them. The dangers this poses can be so great that in many instances it should be discounted. The main weaknesses in the analysis is that it will be difficult to build in the intelligence that competitors have access to from their internal sources such as the sales force or from previous employees. This could however be corrected by an intelligencegathering activity designed to uncover the perceptions of the company that each of its competitions holds. External sources that would be perceived as being independent are preferable to company sources even though they are difficult to identify and control. To be most effective this exercise should be carried out by an independent agency briefed to provide the most insightful report possible within the levels of budget competitors would be likely to deploy. Many companies already direct enquirers to the Public Affairs or PR officer as the sole source of information. Channels of Communication The feasibility of launching a deception programme is enhanced if the company has access to communication channels that can be relied on to pass intelligence to competitors. though they may also be more adept at distinguishing truth from fiction. Internal Sources of Information A misinformation campaign is practical only if there is a nominated source in the company for all information requested by unknown third parties to whom all enquirers are automatically referred. This is a routine competitive intelligence topic that will show whether the competitors will be receptive to a deception programmed. Intelligence Held on the Company The first requirement is to assess the intensity with which competitors study their competition and the methods that they use. This approach is used as a method of seeking additional intelligence within a normal competitive intelligence programme but comes into its own when planning a deception campaign. In the first instance this is a process that can be allied with the requirement to test the intelligence defences described in the previous chapter. if analyzed according to the first principle of competitive intelligence. Nor is it easy to replicate the interpretation of the intelligence that has gone on within competitors. Whoever is considered would have to have a close relationship with the company and would have to be party to the deception. When this is done it is possible to exert some control over the information that is released and avoid the risk that different staff 158 .
especially if they can be convinced that they have coaxed a nugget of intelligence from an unwilling respondent. information passed out in deception campaigns has to be believed.will 'sing from different hymn sheets'. what they are told. This means that it must be reasonably. An authoritative Public Affairs officer is in a strong position to misinform since callers' natural tendency will be to believe. will often contain inaccurate information. The two key questions are: ♦ Is the respondent likely to know the information? ♦ Can the respondent be believed? Whereas legitimate competitive intelligence gatherers are bound by a code of ethics not to deceive. The misinformation process may dictate that no attempt is made to correct such errors. consistent with what is generally known about the company. some of whom are wellinformed and some of whom are relatively uninformed. no such constraints exist on those giving information. this is a rather crude outcome from the deception process. This is relatively easy with facts and internal opinions or assessments such as: 159 . However. Types of Deception Deception can cover: ♦ Information collected from the company ♦ Observations of the company's activities ♦ Information disseminated about other competitors Deception by information To work. However. providing they are unlikely to harm the company's business. This is a natural consequence of the way in which intelligence is gathered from a variety of sources. Competitive intelligence analysts are used to the need to reconcile conflicting information. it should be borne in mind that normal information channels. Deliberately adding misinformation to the data available for analysis makes it less likely that the outcome will be accurate. A more sophisticated approach would be to deceive competitors in such a way that they reach a predetermined erroneous conclusion and change their own actions accordingly. Rather than disseminated though press releases or interviews with journalists. particularly the press. though not necessarily entirely. Generally this means that it must be told directly to sources. To further aid the believability of the data given out the nominated source can co-opt other staff members to assist in deceptions on a case-by-case basis. One of the tests of the accuracy of intelligence is the identity of the sources from which it has been acquired. It is therefore possible to set up either a genuine source with the right credentials or a spurious information source with a convincing title whose role is to provide misleading information which either confirms the information given by the initial source or elaborates on it. rather than challenge. misinformation should be leaked in such a way that it reaches only the ears of those for whom it is intended. In order to avoid confusing those who have a legitimate interest in the company.
Thus. embellishments.the competitive equivalent of dummy tanks and aircraft used to deceive the enemy into raising their estimates of resources could be the 'deliberate loss' of documents describing company resources and plans in a way or place which would be likely to result in them finding their way to a competitor 160 . and motoring journals spend considerable sums on advance pictures and artistic representations of new models. stretching the facts or exaggerations are preferable to complete lies.a wartime favourite for concealing what exists in the way of military hardware either by covering items or by changing their shape. Deception by observation Physical deception . since they will always assume a margin of error in the data. Unfortunately. this level of distortion will do little to change the competitors' perception of your capabilities.has been widely used to provide an enemy with false observations. Figures that are totally inconsistent with industry norms and the experience of other suppliers will be quickly discarded as erroneous. It is therefore sensible to 'bend' the truth rather than to distort it completely.♦ New product developments . But this does not invalidate the use of physical deception in other areas. camouflage can be used to distort the intelligence gained by aerial or satellite reconnaissance of company sites ♦ Dummy activities . It would be more worthwhile to concentrate on misleading competitors about the skills that are present or lacking in the workforce. the motor industry's practice is well known. The requirement for credibility means that the misinformation must stand a chance of passing normal sanity checks.type and timing ♦ Launch dates for new products. as are the normal test locations. The types of deceptions that could work in the competitive arena include: ♦ Camouflage .disguising or concealing what is going on . In civilian operations. providing they achieve the desired effect. which can be extended or reduced to confuse competitors ♦ Geographical expansion programmes ♦ Organisational structures and Staff numbers ♦ Production capacities ♦ The relative importance of distribution channels ♦ Strengths and capabilities ♦ Weaknesses and vulnerabilities It is much more difficult with topics that can be independently verified or checked for consistency with information publicly available about the company. There is little point in releasing information which exaggerates your staff numbers by only 10 per cent. It is a staple activity in wartime and is still used regularly by the automobile industry when road-testing new models for which the styling and performance features need to be kept confidential until the models are launched.
A false test-marketing programme using a different product and/or a different marketing approach would be an expensive but highly effective method of deceiving the competition Physical deception requires innovative thought and a sense of theatre to be successful. Indeed it could be said that although there is always an option to say nothing. in some circumstances it could be unethical to tell the truth if by doing so the interests of the owners and employees could be damaged. Considerable mileage may be gained by disseminating false information about competitors. As far as is known they are not widely practiced even though it is a logical activity to undertake. a significant deception campaign may be justified but if this is not the case the activity should be treated with considerable caution. 161 . Propaganda Deception does not necessarily stop at the company itself. it can be argued that lying in order to protect one's own business interests is ethical. care must be taken to ensure that it is credible and is not libellous.♦ False campaigns . An escalating propaganda war could do considerable harm to all participants in a market. The main problem facing the propagandist is that the activities may trigger retaliatory action. Whilst telling lies about competitors' activities in order to harm their business is unethical. Such a discovery would inevitably lead to considerable opprobrium being heaped on the head of the propagandist and a loss of reputation on a scale that could damage business. but there is little doubt that carefully placed rumours will be readily absorbed by the marketplace and can cause havoc to competitors' plans and force them onto the defensive. It may also be such fun that the budget it demands is out of proportion to the effect it achieves. . These activities can be used to buy time or act as a smokescreen for developments. the equivalent of the 'black art' of propaganda used in wartime. fraught with dangers and are not for the faint-hearted. As with all false information. False information is easy to place and all companies can engage in the process if they so wish.test-marketing programmes are used regularly to determine how a new product will perform and are watched eagerly by competitors. Time spent thinking about deception could payoff but might be more valuable as a source of entertainment than a contribution to strategic advantage. If there is any doubt that they will be successful they are probably better avoided. A secondary problem arises if the propagandist is round out. There is no doubt that misinformation. Ethical Considerations Deception involves telling lies and it may be challenged whether this is ethically acceptable. however. deception and propaganda can be very useful weapons in the competitive battle not only as defence mechanisms but also as a means of attack. When it is vitally important that the competition is deceived. They are.
because Mary Kay had shredded and thrown out the documents and. but is it ethical? This is one of those questions that haunt competitive intelligence professionals. Trash sitting in your home's backyard or company's parking lot is still private property. Those from government service. Greenwood that garbage left in front of Greenwood's house was not in violation of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unlawful search and seizure. Avon officials say they did nothing illegal. the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the case of California v. Both sides eventually came to an agreement about the garbage. most important. It's important to note that this only holds for trash placed at the curb or some other public area. To learn more about Mary Kay's strategic plans. but they went one step further. Avon would be free to reassemble the material while Mary Kay would be allowed to be present to see what material they retrieved. such as former CIA operatives. If a collection method is legal. It's considered abandoned property. However. it's no longer theirs. 1988. reports. their claimed expectation of privacy in the inculpatory items they discarded in this case (they were drug-related items) was not objectively reasonable. Anybody can take it. On May 16. often think in terms of the letter of the law. Did Avon do anything illegal? The answer is no. it's okay. the garbage is fair game for anyone who wants to pick it up. They hired private investigators to collect Mary Kay's garbage and search through it for notes. and memos. according to the law. If something is not over the legal line." -Albert Einstein It all came to light in 1991 after cosmetics giant Avon had for several years successfully thwarted takeover attempts by rival Mary Kay Cosmetics. those raised in corporate American culture tend to think in terms of "what would it look like on the front page of the Wall Street journal?" 162 . Taking trash left out for pickup is perfectly legal.UNIT 13 Ethical and Legal Aspects of Competitive Intelligence Ethics "Try not to become a man of success but rather a man of values. Avon admits they went dumpster diving but did so to prevent Mary Kay from destroying possible evidence in a court case involving the aborted takeovers. They even shot videotape to support that claim. Avon employed all the standard competitive intelligence methods. is it also ethical? The answer you hear sometimes depends upon the background of the competitive intelligence practitioner. The court said: "Since the respondent voluntarily left their trash for collection in an area particularly suited for public inspection. Otherwise." This means that once a company or individual places trash out on the sidewalk for collection. the dumpster was on public property. Yes.
The candidate works for a competitor and during your discussions he reveals some confidential information. Legal standards differ from country to country. It's not how we do business in the United States. In some countries. you use what he told you? The Problem with Ethics As more information gathering takes place. Or maybe you don't identify yourself at all and just say you want the information. perhaps a price chart that they would send to any customers who ask. What's ethical behaviour in this instance? Before I answer that. you skirt the question and just say you want it for reference. companies need their own set of ethics that should be higher than the legal standards they encounter. 163 . Can. Ethical considerations are also increasingly important as companies do more and more business globally.Most people involved in competitive intelligence would not permit garbage retrieval and search by those in their organization. You don't know where it came from. For example. To them. You're walking in a public parking lot and see an envelope on the pavement. ethics will become a larger issue. There is no name on it and no return address. The information is public-domain. they are confidential (marked as such with a big rubber stamp) internal memos that dearly came from your rival. Inside are some sensitive documents relating to your competitor. What about the following example? You're trying to collect information about a competitor and decide to call up and request some information from a sales representative. What do you do? Actually. Many companies have received letters on their fax machines aimed for someone else. The situation can be exacerbated by management that looks the other way at ethical infractions--or doesn't question how some information was obtained-as long as the job gets done. It's not legal in the United States. it's perfectly legal to discriminate in hiring based on sex in some countries. this kind of predicament happens more often than you may think. it smacks of unethical behaviour and is simply not done. There was no winking or sly nodding involved. Suppose you're conducting a job interview. Do you tell him that you are with a competitor straight away or do you make believe you are a customer? Perhaps you could justify being a customer because in your non-business life you might be interested in the product. public servants expect a tip when giving you public documents. What do you do with information that you've received by mistake or accident? Let me give you one more to try. If he asks why. In fact. It's not as if he whispered it into your ear or told you something he thought you would like to know to carry favour even though it was confidential. You could use the information to your advantage. As pressure increases to obtain information. Because of these international differences. there are incentives to cut corners and violate ethical restraints. The information just came out during the conversation. try this one.
including a formula. program. because they can result in conviction of violating local. private information obtained by accident or chance should be returned to its owner. may be broken while collecting information. technique or process that: (1) derives independent economic value. trade secret or not. It's important to note that obtaining stolen property that you didn't know was stolen or possessing information that you didn't know was secret. actual or potential from not being generally known to. and (2) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstance to maintain its secrecy. No information. device or compilation of information which is used in one's business and which gives the holder an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do not know or use it. method. Let's look at some basic legal standards associated with information collection. Moreover. law enforcement should be notified of the security breach. However. is against the law. It says that a trade secret is: Any formula. may be obtained from a competitor by force or deception. which defines a trade secret the following way: Information. The major difference between the two definitions is that the Restatement of Torts requires the trade secret to actually be used by a business for it to have value. In the case of confidential government information. Intuitively we know what a trade secret is and that it should remain private but legally the definition changes from state to state. pattern. or federal laws. state. device. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act does not require that the trade secret be used by a business on a regular basis. many states have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Most of us agree on the following minimum standards of behaviour. It's also important to know that while it is against the law to have another company's trade secrets in your possession it has been argued in many courthouses that companies have lost the right to call something a trade secret by their own actions. The discrepancy arises because states vary in which laws and precedents they look to for guidance. pattern. Confidential. legal definitions can vary. Not returning it. such as trespassing or wiretapping. Many states look to the federal definition of a trade secret provided by what's known as the Restatement of Torts (1939).Even within the United States. 164 . It is against the law to possess trade secrets belonging to someone else. and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use. each law has its own set of criteria and parameters that lawyers argue about. however. is 110t against the law. compilation. No law.
Webster's defines ethics as the discipline dealing with good and evil and with moral duty. While many managers pay lip service to ethics. many managers believe that because their competition would do it. What we find are many companies rewarding competitive intelligence units for doing their jobs but not rewarding them for doing it ethically. The same is true of managers. . it's also possible that you hired that person because he is the best qualified of all candidates. This is one of the most difficult arguments to counter. In another instance. For example. Once a company puts a product on the market. because ethics do change as society changes. Any visitor to the plant was able to view the production area with ease. they would be crazy not to do it as well. If they don't cheat. how would we feel seeing the activity on the front page of the newspaper? How we would feel if this activity were done to us? Would we feel wronged or deceived? These are the principles that should guide your information collection activities. it has no control over whether or not others take it apart to learn about it. in the day-to-day race for revenue. For most of us a practical. In fact. they are also under enormous pressure not to limit the ability of their competitive intelligence units to collect information even it means engaging in marginal behaviour. In most businesses. Perhaps cheating is becoming part of our culture. they believe they will fall behind. people travel from company to company searching for new opportunities within the industry and it is almost impossible to prove otherwise. everyday application is more useful. While many companies give their employees ethical guidance. .The best example is reverse engineering. Why shouldn't we do it. such as in their mission statement or in an employee handbook. now let's look at the squishy areas. When asked about certain activities. One of the arguments on management's side for not enforcing ethical behaviour is that. The legal stuff is easy. 165 . the principles are not always brought home. do we encourage poor ethics by condoning the activity and considering it normal? One of the toughest parts about monitoring ethics is that you almost have to go inside the head of the person under scrutiny. a grommet maker lost the legal right to say that the way it made grommets was protected as a trade secret because it failed to put a barrier around the production area or inform employees and others that anything confidential was going on in the plant. too?" Studies have shown that one of the reasons some college students cheat on tests is because they believe that others are cheating. For example. "The competition is doing it. What Are Good Ethics? Ethical behaviour is hard to define. while all people agree that hiring someone from a competitor just to obtain trade secrets from them is unethical. On the other hand. such as posing as a graduate student doing a term paper in order to obtain information. ethics can get lost.
it's absolutely crucial that the director of competitive intelligence present to management a code of ethics that encompasses the company's existing code (if there is one). This is above the damage he or she leaves behind by violent actions and illegal activity. noted in the journal of Business Ethics: 166 . he noted that jobs may be available in the future. the code should be specific about what information can be collected. Probably the most important reason for good behaviour is to keep your company out of court. what information cannot be collected. With a strict code of ethics. avoiding legal entanglements and costs. but the incident seemed suspect to many observers. the interviewer obtained information about hotels in the economy end of the business that he might not have obtained otherwise. Although the head hunter didn't lie and say that jobs were available at that time. associate professor at Harvard Business School. it pays dividends. Clearly. telling someone that a job may be in the offing encourages participation beyond what they might reveal under different circumstances. management will have no choice but to limit how much information each employee can have. people know exactly what they are permitted to do and not do. Lynn Sharp Paine. Marriott's image was tarnished when it hired an executive search firm to help it collect information about the economy hotel business. Over the long term. Because so many managers think that competitive intelligence is "sleazy" anyway. The head hunter held interviews with managers of some of these companies. tailoring the competitive intelligence activities to the company's code. it's impossible to get inside the head of the interviewer as to his true motives and method. The case with Avon and Mary Kay is a good example. ethicists say that unethical business behaviour and the lowering of standards can cost a lot of money in security costs.Good Ethics Pays Adhering to good ethics is not only the right thing to do. Marriott did indeed hire some of these people. This can lead to distrust among workers and also keep them from doing their job more efficiently. A third reason is company credibility and public profile. In fact. Another reason to subscribe to good ethical conduct is that it makes life easier and less stressful for employees. It costs more to house a person in prison than send him to college. In fact. No problematic decisions are necessary. A fitting analogy is the price society pays for not giving children ethical and moral guidance from a young age. You can also make the point that if ethics violations escalate within the business community. businesses must pay more to defend against unethical tactics-which could become everyday accepted activities-and these preventive measures can be expensive. and the manner in which collection is to be handled. The argument is that if overall ethics standards decline. Again. However. The code should also include policies on how to handle inadvertent receiving of proscribed information such as confidential memos and personal letters.
and guidelines. they are cut off from stimuli to creativity and useful information. and within the entire profession. 5. To fully respect all requests for confidentiality of information. Thou shalt observe thy company's legal guidelines as set forth by the Legal Department. To faithfully adhere to and abide by his or her company's policies."Avoiding the use of the telephone and restricting access to information to employees who demonstrate a 'need to know' impose obvious impediments to the exchange of information vital to cooperation within the firm. 4. 167 . For example. The other 15 percent you probably don't need". competitive intelligence professionals should be able to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. 2. To promote and encourage full compliance with these ethical standards within his or her company. One is: "Eighty jive percent of the information you need is out there in the public domain. Fuld & Company has published its own guidelines for ethical behaviour called "The Ten Commandments of Legal and Ethical Intelligence Gathering": 1. including the identity of the professional and his or her organization. Thou shalt not plant eavesdropping devices. The following is a code of ethics presented by the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) for its members: SCIP CODE OF ETHICS To continually strive to increase respect and recognition for the profession on local. To pursue his or her duties with zeal and diligence while maintaining the highest degree of professionalism and avoiding all unethical practices. By using ethical practices and expert analysis. Thou shalt not bribe. Even in this young discipline there are old adages. To comply with all applicable laws. It is not necessary to violate codes of ethical behaviour to collect the information you need. Some people even put the number as high as 90 percent. with third-party contractors." The last reason for good ethics is the most simple. Individual competitive intelligence unit and consultants should spell out exactly what activities are allowed and which are proscribed. objectives. Thou shalt not lie when representing thyself. 3. state. Thou shalt not tape-record a conversation. When researchers are denied information about the projects they are working on and about how their work relates to the work of others. and national levels. To accurately disclose all relevant information. prior to all interviews.
business has its rules of conduct. 8. 9. arguing that resorting to illicit or unethical practices demonstrate a lack of skill and/or intellectual and creative laziness. Thou shalt not deliberately mislead anyone in an interview. Thou shalt neither obtain from nor give to thy competitor any price information. Legal and Ethical Aspects of CI – The Fine Tuning CI. I have strong sympathy with the honourable feelings underlying this outlook and there are clearly mar instances where the intelligence sought could have been obtained using purely legitimate meal if enough talent and imagination had been employed. It often asserted that 90 per cent. raises serious issues of legality and business ethics. They hate being branded corporate spies who spend their time crawling through air conditional ducts in their target's offices and microfilming precious secrets purloined from its filing cabinet They are also professionally contemptuous of those engaged in the 'James Bond without a dinner jacket' sphere of CI gathering. by its very nature. This chapter is commencing with: Examples of illicit intelligence gathering The United States Industrial Espionage Act 1996 as a legislative response to this kind activity The efforts of CI professionals to raise ethical standards within the sector through a Code of Ethics Interpreting the practical effects of the Code for those engaged in CI. intelligence can be obtained by legitimate research and the other ten percent by analysis. the liberalization of markets and related factors adds to this temptation. Thou shalt not knowingly press someone for information if it may jeopardize that person's job or reputation. not only in ten of material wealth. Illicit Means of Gathering Intelligence Like any form of competitive endeavour. but also in the prestige and influence arising from it. the incentive to bend break the rules is extremely powerful. it is top management's responsibility to see that his or her company abides by ethical standards not only in competitive intelligence but throughout the company. its prizes and temptations. 10. Thou shalt not swap misinformation. growing competitive pressure general by globalization. have a clear understanding of what constitutes lawful and ethical conduct in this field.6. Respectable CI practitioners wince at the often 'sleazy' reputation of their discipline. In the end. Before commencing intelligence gathering the practitioner must be aware that certain methods are unacceptable. 7. Because the potential rewards for success in business are so great. 168 . Thou shalt not steal a trade secret (or steal employees away in hopes of learning a trade secret). On the push side.
If a rival's secrets can be unearthed using publicly available information and good analysis why do they take such care. A fine fictional example of this was depicted in the film Wall Street where the unscrupulous Gordon Gekko inveigles Budd Fox to microfilm sensitive documents while ostensibly doing an office cleaning round. Moles More subtle and insidious is the planting of moles within a rival company. Volkswagen were delighted when they persuaded this much-admired manager to join 169 . while enabling them to exploit the firm's resources for their own ends. The most valuable mole will become a permanent employee. the classic example being the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. a major division of the quoted construction company Trafalgar House. Membership of the top management team places such a person close to the highest level of strategic decisionmaking. safeguard them and others go to such lengths to expose them? There is also the drawback that the unethical approach may be a far faster or cheaper way of obtaining intelligence than the ethical one even when the latter succeeds. There is also the possibility of insider information from a corrupt or disgruntled employee. Rogue Executives A rogue senior executive poses an even greater danger. who is prepared to take bribes or acts simply out of malice. plus the serious consequences if a burglar or telephone tapper gets caught.Granting this is often the case. Even more spectacular was the case of motor industry executive Jose Ignacio Lopez de Arriorutua. A search of Lazzyman's dustbin revealed faxes showing that he had taken copies of sensitive paper and electronic documents with him when he left Davy. Davy's parent was eventually bought by Kvaerner. Criminal CI activities The most extreme forms of aggressive CI involve illegal acts as well as unethical ones. though this is obviously more difficult to arrange. and wishing that it were always true. Another aggressive approach from a rival is to try and suborn otherwise unwilling employees by tailing them and similar methods of prying into their private lives in the hope of being able to uncover a basis upon which to blackmail them into giving secrets in return for not being exposed. Nevertheless. they have been employed. Breaking into the offices of a rival or the homes of their senior executives is clearly beyond the pale on both counts. a Norwegian engineering firm and Lazzyman obtained a new job at their competitors. VoestAlpine Technologie of Austria. who had achieved a stellar reputation while working for General Motors. Likewise the tapping of phones or intercepting emails would breach criminal law. Kvaerner became suspicious that some of the success their rivals were enjoying arose from inside information and hired private detectives to investigate. An easy and likelier . Roy Lazzyman headed Britain's Davy International. gives them access to the fullest range of internal company information and exempts them from scrutiny by a line manager. The special skills required. act as powerful deterrents to resorting to such acute measures.approach is to infiltrate a temporary worker or a contract cleaner. I fear that such c optimistic and idealistic assessment is sometimes not justified.
Lopez brought not only his inspirational skills to his new company. Several features of the legislation demonstrated this concern. They also held implications for the many foreign and multinational firms . Although he took more care than Lazzyman. However. Given that reported commercial spying and information theft had increased by 300 per cent in just four years. A large number of others were simply unaware that corporate spies had targeted them. to make deductions about matters that remained unpublished. demonstrating the gravity now attached to such conduct. According to GM he had also taken more than 20 boxes of their documents. The statute laid a duty upon those alleging industrial espionage to show that they had taken 'reasonable measures' to protect their secrets. In addition.and for those of their employees undertaking intelligence gathering with US relationships. Lopez was still found out and an irate GM launched the world's largest international corporate suit. using their skill and experience. The exemption from its ambit for 'publicly available information' included not only published material. Many firms were reluctant to concede that they had been victims of such malpractice or feared bad publicity if they admitted to being damaged by it. The definition of 'confidential information' was restricted to that which was not 'readily ascertainable through proper means'. the case law evolving from this statute will influence the judicial treatment of industrial espionage cases in other countries. Companies had reported some $1. allowing plenty of legitimate scope for analysts. The United States Industrial Espionage Act 1996 The sheer scale and pervasiveness of industrial espionage prompted the US legislature and government to take special measures to combat it. Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). with which the American auto makers intended to challenge VW's market leadership in attractive emerging markets such as Eastern Europe and China. Unfortunately. but also the results of interviews and surveys that had been conducted ethically. the lawmakers were at pains to emphasize that the severe new statute was not intended to inhibit ethical CI activity. the American authorities decided that tough action was needed to tackle this growing corporate plague. the majority of them plans for a state-of-the-art factory specializing in building small cars. The draconian punishments now available to the courts in such cases were a natural source of anxiety to American CI professionals. but was instead directed at the kinds of abusive behaviour referred to above. The Act laid down stiff penalties for breaches of its terms. shredding the documents after they had been digitized. with fines as high as $10 million and prison sentences of up to 15 years being placed at the discretion of judges when defendants were convicted. The 1996 Industrial Espionage Act made the theft of trade secrets a federal offence for the first time (a number of individual states of the Union already had legislation in place directed against it). 170 . In February 1996 Louis Franks. testified as to the extent of commercial spying and theft of trade secrets before a Congressional inquiry.5 billion losses to the FBI.them in 1993. a figure the Bureau regarded as significantly lower than the actual incidence of these crimes.
The SCIP Code of Ethics contains the eight principles set out below. One of SCIP's principal achievements is to have devised a code of ethics to govern CI activity that goes beyond merely obeying the law. Attention switches from the principles motivating and underpinning legal ordinances to how to remain within their letter. If confined to general matters such as the firm's corporate culture this is probably permissible. There is a serious risk of sliding from this into a completely cynical. On the other hand. SCIP has enjoyed explosive growth in numbers since then. an observation worth making here is that the 'we'll do whatever will get past the lawyers' approach is highly subversive of moral sensitivity. 3) Clearly wise practitioners will seek professional legal advice before commencing any intelligence activity that they feel may be legally questionable. New technological possibilities. the dividing line separating questions about 'what is your company like?' to those soliciting trade secrets is far from clearly defined. It is fair to assume that someone active in CI who knowingly breaks the law will not be fretting too much as whether it is unethical. with SCIP Europe being established in 1990 and similar bodies springing up across the world (www. I should emphasize that the commentary I have provided on each item in the code is a personal interpretation and has no official sanction from SCIP.scip. A fairly standard provision in professional codes. domestic and international. For CI this occurred in 1986 when the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) was founded in the US. I nevertheless hope the amplification offered regarding these principles will make them better understood and less likely to be breached inadvertently: 1) To continually strive to increase recognition and respect for the profession. CI practitioners in other countries were quick to see the advantages of a professional association. such as satellite observation.org). 2) To comply with all applicable laws. asking for trade secrets like the names of clients or details of technical processes has been ruled illegal in judgments given by courts in both the US and Britain. 171 . Another sign of professional maturity is the adoption of a code of conduct binding upon its members. However. SCIP members should advance the interests of the CI profession by trying to demonstrate the value and importance of the role it plays and has the potential to play. I can also lead to uncertainty as to what the law actually prohibits. even if one has no intention of violating the law's requirements. indifferent attitude ('but everyone else is doing it!') or regarding the Eleventh Commandment ('thou shalt not get caught') as one's ethical lodestar. I do believe that the sheer volume and complexity of legislation makes full compliance genuinely rather difficult. However.The SCIP Code of Ethics – A Different Angle A significant indication that a profession has 'come of age' is when an association is created to advance the interests of its practitioners. The quality of an individual member's work and standards of professional integrity should also contribute to the good reputation and standing of the profession as a whole. However. There are also 'grey areas' such as interviewing former employees of a company being studied.
CI analysts working on behalf of a client should not reveal that client's identity unless that has been explicitly authorized.and they do not wan to the bearers of these unwelcome tidings! Yet they all like to believe that they are hard headed realists who want to be 'told it as it is' and who have no difficulty in revising the opinions when made aware of new evidence. through trading securities. with third-party contractors. They have to give their real names and correctly state who is employing them (although not. When giving my competitive intelligence courses I always emphasize that SCIP members are not permitted to assume false identities. as noted in the commentary on the next principle. including one's identity and organization. 7) To provide honest and realistic recommendations and conclusions in the execution of one duties. or pretend they are students or would-be customers. Consultant providing CI services to clients likewise must not take advantage of data supplied in confidence during earlier projects. CI professionals must abstain from misusing the information entrusted to them. While there are such clear-sighted and open minded people around. comfortable assumptions and cherished beliefs. the identity of their client if they are operating on a consultancy basis). even if they are not SCIP members'. and within the entire profession. from inside information gained in the course of their duties. I think this translates as 'not only should we comply with the SCIP guidelines. but we should try and get colleagues to follow them. shattering complacency.4) To accurately disclose all relevant information. Although it is clearly impossible for those who has worked on an assignment to erase their memories regarding it. care should be taken to limit access to such data on a 'need to know' basis and to store only non-proprietary information for use in future projects. 8) To promote this code of ethics within one's company. Leading CI authority Ben Gilad describes one of the key roles of practitioners of the discipline as that of 'chin breaker'. prior to all interviews. Analysts and consultants are often under unspoken (or even overt) pressure I come up with the answer expected. People do not like to hear bad news or findings that conflict with their entrenched views . It takes courage to resist this. An obvious instance of abuse (which would also fall foul of the law) would be to try and profit. Problems arise when other employees who are not members engage in some CI 172 . there are many others who possess these admirable qualities to only modest extent. Those playing it have to possess the nerve to drop the plate and steadfastness in justifying the seeming vandalism. This must be one of the toughest SCIP guidelines to follow scrupulously. Like journalists they are also obliged to protect the anonymous of their sources of information except where these unambiguously agree to be publicly cited 6) To avoid conflicts of interest in fulfilling one's duties. 5) To fully respect all requests for confidentiality of information. I fear that this is probably the principle violated most frequently by otherwise upright and honest people operating in this sphere.
Potential clients should be aware of the rules we impose on ourselves before we agree to act for them and we should ensure that colleagues working on a project are familiar with the client's policies in this area and scrupulously comply with them. This creates a strong incentive. Rather surprisingly those attendees who had been in SCIP for less than a year were more likely to plump for the 'ethical' choice than more established members. Apart from our moral responsibility for what contractors do in our name we may also be found responsible in law. objectives and guidelines. Insistence or acceptance of the SCIP code should also form part of any contract signed with external consultants and all reasonable steps taken to monitor compliance with its obligations. At SCIP's 1997 Annual Conference. 9) To faithfully adhere to and abide by one's company policies. Which 'policies. One way of gaining kudos.is working on behalf of a client rather than as their employee. I have also been impressed. For a start. academics. those attending the ethics presentation were confronted with a group of hypothetical situations. Does the SCIP code work? How effective is the SCIP code in practice? Some people dismiss such formulations as either hot air or mere public relations and point out that the society has no disciplinary machinery. a bigger bonus and promotion within our organizations is by getting results that our colleagues are unable to achieve. although it may place an ethical CI consulting firm at a disadvantage when competing for clients. unless we actually ponder and debate questions of professional ethics in this kind of collective fashion we are bereft of any guidance except our personal opinions. Proper consultant/client communication is needed here. SCW Navigating through the Gray Zone: A collection of corporate codes of conduct and ethics guidelines contains examples of CI policies from firms like DuPont which can serve 3 models for developing a set of in-house guidelines. Nevertheless. all them involving a moral dimension. In fact the relatively poor results of members who had been directly engaged in CI activity (thus excluding students. Thus if our standards are higher than those of a client we should refuse to compromise these. with potentially disastrous consequences. This principle has been criticized as confusing in situations where a CI consultant . side-steps or simply ignores the internal rules made to prevent unethical conduct on the part of employees. and if the client places extra restrictions upon what methods we can employ we should abide by these.activity. having met a wide range of SCIP members. Essentially we should abide by the sterner of these internal rules. and asked to pick a course of action out of a set of alternatives. those promulgated by our own organization or those set by the client? In fact I believe the answer is straightforward. consultants operating in other fields and the like) for between two and three 173 . objectives and guidelines' should be followed in this case. it has to be admitted that there is a gap between ethical theory and actual conduct. Additional protection may be gained through establishing a formal company policy regarding its CI activities. to see how seriously they take their professional code and strive to uphold it. I do not believe these judgements are fair.
Genuine CI professionals are scrupulous in conforming to the law.years were described as 'unquestionably disappointing' by the survey's authors. those employed in firms with specialized guidance for the conduct of CI activity scored substantially well compared to where this was absent. Being aware of the unethical methods that may be used is also helpful when defending one's organization against external CI. but with more detailed examples of acceptable and unacceptable practices. This theme is explored further in later in this book. those working for firms with either a specific policy on CI practice (such as adopting the SCIP principles) or code of general business ethics gained far better scores than people operating without such guidelines. Ultimately. 'Accurately disclosing one's identity and organization' is probably the defining difference between a true CI professional and those that operate in dubious ethical territory. The SCIP code demands higher standards of conduct than required by the law. An in-house code of CI conduct based on the SCIP one. The seriousness of departing from the code should be emphasized and prompt action taken in the event of it being breached. should be created. 174 . Likewise. its observance and effectiveness lies in the hands of individual practitioners. who expected greater experience would produce higher scores. Adhering to these should ensure additional protection against legal claims. Any colleague involved in Cl related activities or any third party (such as consultants) engaged to undertake these must be made familiar with it. partners or clients. In any profession there will always be some who are willing to cut corners . Conclusions CI is not industrial espionage.or worse and CI work involves obvious temptations The SCIP code provides a framework for ethical CI and anyone abiding by its spirit and actual provisions is unlikely to be tarnished by professional misconduct or endanger the reputation and interests of their employers. On the more positive note. If you are unsure that a form of CI activity is lawful take advice from a lawyer before engaging in it. even if they do not break the law. though.
they very rarely look at competitive intelligence. They can spend their money more wisely on industry. It is their absolute and unbending belief in competitive intelligence as a strategic corporate tool to make the best decisions possible. And. devastated by World War II. 175 . It's not taught in colleges. Why? Because it's not something that's done by many U. They produce one-third of the world's cars." -Motto of Mitsui Corporation U. Our managers overlook the one thread that weaves through all of these itemsthe one factor that underpins all of these issues-and goes to the heart of why Japanese businesses have been so successful in such a short time. has grown to be the world's second largest economic power. corporate managers often wonder how the Japanese economy. steel. While consulting gurus to American industries tend to look at all of these issues. This. It is the secret of their continued success. companies. They lament unfair trade practices.S. and ships and two thirds of the world's computer chips. They wonder how a country with few natural resources produces nearly 18 percent of the world's Gross Domestic Product and how it could have doubled its economy between 1973 and 1989. separates the Japanese business mind-set from that of their counterparts in other countries. if it's not done here.UNIT 14 Competitive Intelligence Practices around the World How the Japanese Perform Competitive Intelligence "Information is the lifeblood of the company. it doesn't tell the whole story about "The Japanese Miracle". Although all this may be true. What else? Japanese managers don't have to worry about the stock market. satisfying the short-term-minded Street and thus can think long-term. Half of the world's top twenty banks are in Japan. more than anything else. They wonder why it is that although the Japanese used to be outspent in R&D their products are first-rate and technologically superior. illegal dumping of goods and the ever present and "unfair" cooperation between government and private industry. And one more thing: Japanese workers are more committed and more loyal to their company and to their work. it's not worth looking at.S. Then managers say it's because the Japanese don't spend money on defence like the United States.
as long as a century from now. Japanese business horizons are very long. Americans tend to think of information as cheap. In Japanese. Because so much of the U. but it's perceived as potentially useful enough to keep. The expression "talk is cheap" is a perfect example of an American attitude. it may be like the cardboard box you keep in the attic because it's sturdy and you never know when you may need it. hardly worth a dollar. In Japan. It has value. something is done to it. In English. culture is open and free and information is pervasive. Had American managers been more astute they would have seen beyond the catchall phrase and seen what the Japanese were really practicing: prudent use of competitive intelligence. but it has worth. Information learned from the United States and other economically successful countries was being applied in Japan and integrated into their corporate structures. To the Japanese. everything someone says has some meaning. Why a specific piece of information is needed may not be clear at the time it's collected. the word joho means two things: information and intelligence. technology. It is a worthwhile activity and one that pays dividends. To an American. 176 . Every piece of information that is sucked up by the great Japanese information vacuum cleaner becomes part of someone's long-term strategic plan. how can you fail? How Americans (not just corporate Americans) feel and treat information compared to the Japanese is at the heart of the matter. Information collection is an ongoing part of the Japanese business culture and complements the idea of kaizen. and management techniques from the best business minds in the world. To the Japanese. Information is revered and coveted. information doesn't become intelligence unless. Information is highly valued especially (and sometimes only) when viewed within a context. but it may come in handy later on. but to a Japanese businessperson it has value. This says right off the bat that information is worthwhile. Maybe not earth-shattering worth but it means something to someone. information is a commodity with an intrinsic worth. "They are just copycats" was an often-heard phrase. There is a lot of lip service paid to the information age and how Americans embrace the idea of information and such conduits as the information superhighway.When Japan's economy started to skyrocket in the late 1950s and early 1960s-when Japan's GDP first surpassed the United States many Westerners used to say that Japanese companies weren't capable of producing anything of their own. a scrap of information may not mean anything. which means constant and continuous improvement. It's only a cardboard box. To an American. gathering information is a noble calling. it is often just talk.S. Unfortunately. When you're learning about manufacturing. You may not have the correct context to exploit it.
Chances are also good that you may have snickered at these people's zeal and great interest in the smallest detail of some product to which you didn't even pay attention. you must know what drives their competitive intelligence programs. and behaviour affect how competitive intelligence is collected and analyzed outside the United States. let's first review how it is done here. Did you notice any Japanese businesspeople taking photos like film was free and collecting brochures like they contained discount coupons? Or perhaps your own company has hosted Japanese visitors who accepted handouts and pamphlets from you with the respect and reverence deserving a precious gift. but to the Japanese it's just everyday business. Competitive Intelligence in Other Countries 'The countries that have been militarily defeated are the countries that now have an acute understanding of the importance of competitive intelligence. If you can't playa military role or a geopolitical role anymore. whatever they gathered will probably find its way back to Tokyo or other cities in Japan to be disseminated to those who can use it.Jean-Marie Bonthous. This will give you a frame of reference against which you can understand other countries. This is true not only in how companies view intelligence. government involvement. and corporate idiosyncrasies. You've already seen how the Japanese view information and intelligence and how different it is compared to the American view. while government plays virtually no part in U. recall the last trade show you attended. Well. President. JMB International In order to compete against foreign competitors." -. the only way to remain independent is to be economically successful. on their home turf or elsewhere.S. competitive intelligence (except for data collection used for government activities that is then made available to everyone) this is not the case in other countries. Culture affects how they collect it and. Chances are they contain Japanese companies. 177 . It's an extraordinary worldwide system that boggles the mind of most Westerners.Lest you think that I put too fine a point on this. Each company's competitive intelligence program reflects its individual culture. Culture plays a large role in how competitive intelligence is practiced. Ask your public relations office for its list of companies who receive press releases and financial information available to the public. What you see in these instances is typical competitive intelligence gathering. history. So it is with other countries. what they collect. but how they use it and what aspects they see as important. indeed. Before we discuss how culture. In addition.
Sweden Stevan Dedijer. Companies. about 90 percent of all new products and services coming from Sweden are produced by a handful of large companies: Volvo. Americans are extremely logical. This is not say that there is collusion or price fixing. Saab. And yes. that the United States is the best at everything. Sometimes it's difficult for American managers to believe that better practices can be found elsewhere. It almost borders on paranoia. Nokia. Gambro. Information from other countries is often discounted or not considered as important as information obtained from U. Our language is the best and so is our system of government. and there is also a belief that government should keep out of business affairs. left -brain thinking. Indeed. Often. competitive intelligence programs reflect this short-term approach. and one way to keep the country secure is to employ 178 . Americans think of themselves as tough individuals who can get by on brains and courage. that is. but these companies are considered the driving force behind Swedish economic power and they believe it right to work together towards a common goal.The United States In the United States there is a great emphasis on short-term approaches to problems. and any relationship that exists is often adversarial. and used. these companies talk to one another and exchange information for the good of the country's common economic position. analyzed. Swedes have a sense that their political and economic security are always in jeopardy. Electrolux. Most large Swedish companies do 80 percent of their business out of the country.S. we like to keep them from others. The most important cultural aspect that affects competitive intelligence is the overwhelming reliance on logical. this attitude affects how information is collected. even those that are not competitors. Clearly. Everybody knows everybody". are often considered enemies and little sharing takes place. Despite lip service. There is also a tendency toward ethnocentricity. considered one of the frontiersman of competitive intelligence. We think that information becomes more valuable if fewer people have it. American businesses desire a limited relationship with government entities. Americans also like secrets. not many American firms have long-term plans. and Televerket. There is a distrust of government by companies. summed up Swedish competitive intelligence this way: "It's a small country. Skandia Group. ABB. sources. Astra. Nobel Industries. Ericsson. step-by-step thinkers. SCA. There is almost no belief in business for a holistic approach to problem solving that would include emotions and instinct.
and technology. Sweden was concerned about the Soviet threat. ABB. competitive positions. It provided databases. During the past few years. and intelligence experts monitored the Soviets for any warning signs of aggression. banks formed Upplysnigs Centralen. especially English and French. Intelligence is also well respected. the financial community. In fact. Still others. It's also responsible for training managers in intelligence. the emphasis has shifted from political information to economic information. like Astra and Volvo. a competitive intelligence research company. This may sound odd to the American mind. Most large Swedish companies have very advanced competitive intelligence systems although they are different in structure. It also has thousands of agents all over the world available for information collection for a fee. many Swedish companies have located their headquarters outside their country: EKI to Denmark. and the intelligence community at the country's top social stratum. 179 . including information from overseas banking branches. a $40 billion Swedish company headquartered in Switzerland. Electrolux and Skandia have competitive intelligence units placed at the corporate group level while others like Ericsson and Nobel Industries place it at the business unit level. If you look at the elite in Sweden you'll see the military. legal and regulatory issues.intelligence. place it in the market and planning department. The National Swedish Board for Technical Development also acts as a conduit. To further internationalize themselves. and SKS Specialty Bearings to the United States. there is a high degree of fluency in foreign languages. during the 1970s. customers. feeding public information to private companies. and generally to stimulate the thinking processes of those in the company. Scientific Processing to Germany. Intelligence is a national imperative. The Swedish government supports competitive intelligence practices. and embassies around the world regularly report on economic and political trends for use by companies. is composed of more than a thousand subsidiaries and companies in 140 countries. They jettisoned the planning department and replaced it with a competitive intelligence and analysis department (Competitive Intelligence Network) that answers to the CEO and COO. Because hardly anyone outside Sweden speaks Swedish. The Swedish banking community plays a large role in competitive intelligence. Its job is to study general economics. but Swedes see competitive intelligence as a humanitarian (read: non-military) way to ensure national peace and tranquillity. During the Cold War.
took his military intelligence experience and developed a competitive intelligence program at the School of Economics and Management at Lund University in Stockholm. all Skandia offices and subsidiaries were notified not to do business with Njord. Unlike American firms. Swedish pharmaceutical company Astra. thus minimizing their exposure. the major player among pharmaceutical companies in the areas of asthma relief products. Skandia had already backed off from some of its deals and relationships. Swedish companies are not shy about reporting some of their competitive intelligence successes. Glaxo. In fact. or well informed. which is said to have lost about 263 million Krona (more than $1. Glaxo's competitor. was concerned that this announcement would pre-empt their efforts in coming out with their own product. an OSS officer during World War II. the market intelligence department a1 Skandia Group learned that Njord Insurance was running into financial trouble.What's so different in Sweden than anywhere else in the world is the relationship between academia and industry. It is their only college in the world that offers masters and doctoral degrees in competitive intelligence. 5 billion) because it didn't know in advance about Njord's shaky financial situation. By the time Njord's financial problems became noticeable and hit the news media. Using this information. In addition. Astra researchers studied Glaxo's clinical tests and learned that the anti-inflammatory effect only worked on animals and not humans as had been thought. Dedijer may have built the world's largest personal library collection of competitive intelligence topics. in Croatia) has expounded. For example. Astra scientists were able to quell the industry excitement about Glaxo's so called breakthrough product and also buy time for its own clinical trials and efforts. which was not as far along. announced that it was marketing a bronchodilator that also had an anti-inflammatory component. After further data collection and analysis. 180 . Astra researchers were able to use data from Glaxo's clinical trials to advance the development of its own products. Dedijer. In another instance. It was clearly a breakthrough product. Graduates of this program fan out among Swedish companies spreading the ideas of competitive intelligence that Dedijer (who has since retired and moved to Dubrovnik. was Sparbanken Kronan. Not so lucky.
however). between 1987 and 1989. several pulled out of the next scheduled Paris Air Show. as in some other countries. especially in the areas of technology and science. to obtain information about technology from the United States and other Western countries. bribing company officials to receive contracts is considered a standard way of doing business. including GM's Hughes Aircraft subsidiary. The companies and their products were rated on an interest level scale of 1 to 3. The French embassy in Washington acts as a conduit for information flowing to French scientists and engineers. In 1993. Competitive intelligence professionals say that France is more interested in obtaining trade secrets than collecting business information and turning it into intelligence. a French company can hire government operatives to do competitive intelligence for them. Science and Technology that targeted dozens of U. 181 . there is a tendency to think in terms of industrial espionage instead. almost any method used to collect information is considered moral and ethical by their standards. It is not the ideal ethical way. : It's also been alleged that French government officials obtained sensitive information by bugging seats or overhearing conversations taking place on Air France jets. Central Intelligence Agency reports that French intelligence agents routinely travel throughout the United States looking for business information. In some countries. France's equivalent of the American CIA. or SDECE. After the CIA informed the targeted companies.France When the subject of competitive intelligence comes up in relation to France. spied on companies like IBM and Texas Instruments and turned information over to their French competitors. defence companies. A good example is bribery. In fact. It's also been alleged that French operatives buy information from American sources. In France.S. (The word "illegally" is used from a neutral point of view. Later. the CIA obtained a twenty-one-page document from the ExploitationImplementation Office of France's Department of Economics. The U. a twenty-person branch of the Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure (DGSE). When Charles DeGaulle returned to power in 1958 he directed the Service for External Documentation and Counterespionage.S. The French government works closely with corporations to collect information and sometimes they do so illegally.
Like Japan. we are competitors. A typical large French company like Alcatel (the telecommunications company) with thousands of people may have only two or three people who actually have the words 'competitive intelligence' on their business card. Translation of the English word intelligence implies spying. nine years after the German Patent Office was established. the House of Fugger bank collected information and published an intelligence newsletter for its sales force throughout Europe. He put it this way in a 1991 television interview: "It would not be normal that we spy on the United States in political matters or in military matters. pre-technology status. but everyone in the company is part of the competitive intelligence infrastructure. competitive intelligence units in French companies analyze material more by recognizing patterns as opposed to their American counterparts who rely more on facts and logical analytical techniques. and holistic compared to American competitive intelligence practitioners. humanistic.What is so alarming to American businesses is that these aren't simply cases of company against company but government against company. This attitude stems from the French belief that they must preserve." From a behavioural point of view. (The country." notes Jean-Marie Bonthous of JMB International. the pharmaceutical company Bayer Corporation systematically analyzed patents of their competitors as early as 1886. in the technological competition. The United States Congress. DGSE. However. The Allies confiscated 182 . moved the country back to pre-war. you may remember. This idea is summed up by the former head of the French spy agency. protect. Pierre Marion. Germany German companies have a long history of competitive intelligence. and enhance their national economic security. in modern-day Germany the discipline of competitive intelligence is being accepted more slowly by industry than in other European countries because of the stigma of intelligence being equated with spying. believing that Germany should never be able to wage war again. These marketing or sales specialists are well trained in competitive intelligence and may be paid on commission for finding businesses to enter and also for learning how to defeat competitors. was invaded three times in a 150-year period) Economic spying can be linked to serving the interest of all French people. We are allied. Later. We are not allied. Germany used competitive intelligence as a way to reconstruct its economy after the country's devastation from World War II. While they may not be thought of as competitive intelligence practitioners in an American sense because they don't have the title that is their main job. but in the economic competition. In the fifteenth century. Analysis tends to be qualitative.
In fact.hundreds of thousands of patents. because of the bureaucracy. When someone needs information. BND. Banks. which had since grown large and powerful. the Allies limited the country's factory capacity and production. Information and intelligence flows back and forth from the BND and the banks to the companies and trade associations. closed research centres. production limitations were lifted and within a few years the country merged some of the conglomerates that had been torn apart. the Soviet KGB posted large contingents in the corporate world to keep watch. had the most brilliant scientists emigrate to the United States (especially space and rocket experts). play a large role in running German businesses and therefore play a large role in competitive intelligence collection and dissemination. broke down the bank cartels. German banks hold shares of corporations. These boards (and by association. The banks control these supervisory boards. which set national economic policy. Spekegigfargen. In 1968. The foundations give an arm's length look to the arrangement. exhaustive. (Politically. This well trained group exists today and is funded by companies through foundations. the German authorities formed the Bundesnachrichtendienst. Most important. To make sure these limits were kept tight. In addition. and scattered the largest chemical company. it may take a long time for information to flow within some companies and the data may become outdated by the time it reaches decision makers. 183 . In Germany. the Germans wanted to keep watch on the Soviets as well) . In 1957. Because the companies themselves are so rigid with strict procedures to follow. the banks and the government) control the country's trade associations. This also means that German companies are poor at seeing early warnings. or BND. there are very few independent competitive intelligence professionals in Germany. In turn. he will often call the bank with whom his company is associated. it often becomes difficult to incorporate competitive intelligence analysis that contains radical ideas or concepts into strategic plans. three banks control 75 percent of all company proxies. Because of these huge efforts by the banks and the BND. was transformed into a competitive intelligence force. which are state-run. Unlike the United States where shareholders control companies. Most companies have a management board and supervisory board with the latter setting policy. competitive intelligence reports are huge. in 1945 as a sort of economic police to watch the Russians and make certain that factories were allowed to reach their limits as allowed by law. and in great detail.
" Melbourne-based Vernon Prior. 184 . a competitive intelligence consultancy. and without working that hard the average family could have a comfortable lifestyle”. mainly blue chips involved in international commerce. Trade barriers are eroding and subsequent imports from foreign companies are competing against domestic producers. It is also thought of as too costly. managing director. Agricultural product and mineral exports are declining. But the field is growing and we're seeing a large increase in the number of independent consultancies who are touting competitive intelligence as a way to understand trading partners and competitors within the European Union. Only a few large companies. The country had also focused on serving the domestic market with Australian goods and services with little exportation except for agricultural products and minerals. Part of the reason for this is that the country has been slow to understand or appreciate the effects of globalization. Australian businesses lag behind. including pharmaceuticals. It is considered unethical behaviour. Australian managers liken competitive intelligence to spying. medical and scientific instruments. Prior and others agree that the comfort situation is changing as the country breaks out of its economic cocoon. it has been largely protected from global competition. for Kirk Tyson International. Due to its geographic isolation and high trade barriers. With little or no competition to worry about. Adds Prior: "I've had more interest in the past years then I've had in the previous four years. But things are changing. Australia Competitive intelligence in Australia is in an embryonic stage. notes: "We have been a lucky country. They often focus on how a company makes decisions and what they've done in the past.German competitive intelligence practitioners are always interested in a competitor's historical record." The United Kingdom The situation in England and the rest of the United Kingdom is much like that of the United States. Compared to other industrialized countries. This is an important factor in their information-gathering and analysis. Like many American CEOs. Then there is the uniquely Australian factor of "widespread comfort. Pacific Rim. and processed foods. but new exports are starting to grow. engage in competitive intelligence to any degree.
Many engage in competitive intelligence practices in their business units as well. 185 . you don't find that situation in the United Kingdom. Swiss pharmaceutical companies are big users of competitive intelligence. It's also the home of powerful multinational companies that see competitive intelligence as a tool to increase exports. competitive intelligence professionals in Britain are leftbrain thinkers like their American counterparts. Switzerland Like the Netherlands. This has fuelled interest in competitive intelligence as a way to take up the slack left by government. while banks in Sweden or Germany playa large role in protecting their investments by sharing competitive intelligence with companies. Switzerland is also export-oriented. there is less worry on the part of banks over companies' health. Because Switzerland is not a member of the European Union. Because of the stock market and pension fund ownership of company shares. in Britain as in the rest of Europe. As far as analysis is concerned.On the technical side. there has been strong growth in the number of databases and other electronic information sources that are used for competitive intelligence information. there is not as much concern over relationships between the government and businesses as in the United States. Unilever. DSM. Still. It should be interesting to see what influences European Union neighbours like France will bring to British competitive intelligence practices. The Netherlands Acceptance of competitive intelligence has been strong because of the country's history of being an open-trading nation. Holland is very export-oriented. many British firms regularly tap into data banks located in the United States. So. Key companies in the Netherlands have established competitive intelligence units that report to top management. There is increased privatization of companies in Britain. Because of the common language. competitive intelligence will become more important as a method to get past any EU trading barriers. and Royal Dutch Shell all employ competitive intelligence methods. There has been growing interest among companies about competitive intelligence strategies.
information is being funnelled back to the EISR in Russia. Service T has three branches.Russia With the collapse of the Soviet Union. (EISAR). 186 . in many cases. he testified before Congress in 1992. The analytical branch coordinates worldwide collection efforts and issues a shopping list of foreign companies and their products. according to Levchenko. formerly the KGB's First Chief Directorate.S. He gets the run around from the Russian bureaucracy and agrees to assistance from a "government insider" if the entrepreneur will hire someone to establish contacts with foreign firms. "One reason why the Soviets were very active in Japan is that' they could acquire intelligence on U. has gained wide support among Russian officials as the agency that will help bring prosperity and hard currency into the country by stealing business information and technology. The research institute sorts out the collected information and sends it to the appropriate ministries and research facilities of the Russian Academy of Sciences. company. the Soviet-Russian foreign intelligence services have changed their priorities from collecting political and military information to economic information. The economic situation is so dismal in Russia and other former Soviet republics that there is no time or resources for building an industrial infrastructure that will be competitive in world markets. The operations branch dispatches intelligence officers to foreign stations and also to work undercover within Russia. As a result. companies”. In fact. Levchenko was stationed in Japan and his cover was as the Tokyo bureau chief of New Times. a Soviet magazine. According to Stansilav Levchenko. a former KGB intelligence officer and defector to the United States. EISR operations concerning competitive intelligence-really industrial espionage-"':'might begin with a Russian entrepreneur trying to start a joint venture with a U. called Service T. US citizens are employed with the belief that they are helping other US companies get a foothold in the burgeoning Russian market.S. concentrates its efforts on high-technology intelligence. The actions are very subtle and. technology through Japanese companies that were engaged in joint research with them". products. During part of his career. "The other reason is that some of the Japanese companies had extensive knowledge of U.S. the External Intelligence Service of Russia. and research. one section of the EISR. The person will then supply the EISR with information on foreign competitors. All the time. however.
resulting mainly from the Cultural Revolution. The institute's interests are social. you must look at the definition and implication of words. Chinese leaders looked to intelligence as a way to help end the country's isolation (just like the Japanese did after the forced opening of the country by Admiral Perry). All decisions are made centrally in China and intelligence is a crucial factor. However. The words Qing Bao have the double meaning of information and intelligence (just like the Japanese word joho). no longer bolstered by the strength of the Soviet Union. By the mid-1980s. are striking out on their own and are gaining economic intelligence in the quickest way-by stealing it from Western countries." Levchenko notes that the U. authorities have difficulty detecting Russian intelligence agents because so many engineers. political.S. The first government-sponsored intelligence program was begun in 1956 under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences. The purpose of the institute is to gather and analyze information that helps the country with its program of central planning. political. and researchers are leaving Russia hoping to find employment in Western countries. People's Republic of China Like Japan. as well as in government ministries and academies. this was changed when the director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences decided that emphasis should lean more toward that of ethical gathering of information as opposed to unethical spying. The word/concept was probably brought to China from Japan by military students around the turn of the century."In some cases. 187 . and economic. in municipalities scattered throughout the country. ISTIC. It was called the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China. The latest wrinkle from Russia is the growing market for industrial espionage by former Russian agents for third parties such as former Soviet bloc countries. the word had the connotation of spying when it described intelligence used for military. Russian intelligence will establish joint ventures and separate firms exclusively employing its officers for the purpose of collecting corporate intelligence. to first understand the Chinese approach to competitive intelligence. In addition. Then. during which China rarely looked outside its borders. and within several years there were offices (Qing Boa offices) of the institute in provinces. and competitive intelligence. scientists. These small countries. more than sixty thousand people worked for the system.
While intelligence for central planning was the prime mover behind the program, it has since expanded to help the country's scientific and technological research, commerce, and product development. The flow of intelligence, therefore, was from the Qing Bao departments in the government to the factories and other businesses, which were then told to implement procedures. However, according to Qiahao Miao of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of Shanghai, the Qing Bao departments in the government may be playing a lesser role in the future as business enterprises are given more autonomy to run their day-to-day operations. Industrial policy will still be set by the government, and intelligence will still playa role in policy setting, but business entities will begin to make their own decisions and complement the government intelligence with their own intelligence services. According to Qiahao, new intelligence services and awareness have been seen: 1. Foreign companies in China bringing their own intelligence systems and ideas to the country. 2. Growth of consultancies that specialize in competitive intelligence, including some newspaper-clipping services. 3. Private information brokers in industrial areas. They are also found in rural areas that are not served by government intelligence services. These trends will continue. It is also expected that government sponsored intelligence services will increase their interest and activities in economic intelligence areas as opposed to political and social interests. It's also clear that more enterprises will establish their own intelligence networks and programs. Like their neighbours, Chinese competitive intelligence analysis resembles that of Japan. The emphasis is on historical perspectives and right-brain thinking. Unlike Japan, however, the information infrastructure is undeveloped. There are relatively few publications and databases, and the kind of worldwide network that the Japanese have built does not exist. Because of this underdevelopment, lack of resources, and the belief that they need to play catch-up, the Chinese, like the Russians, also engage in state-sponsored industrial espionage activities. Many of their targets are high-technology items that are usually bought through a web of companies authorized to buy sensitive devices from the West. For example, China may set up a holding company in Great Britain to purchase U.S. computer parts that, because of their strategic value, are not permitted to be sold directly to China. The U.S. shipper doesn't know that the company is actually owned by Chinese
authorities, as it is hidden behind several other holding companies that appear to be British-owned. Sometimes an authorized buyer will simply buy critical technology parts and hand them over to Chinese representatives without the seller realizing where they will end up. There are many variations on this diversionary tactic, but all of them rely on using a seemingly legitimate third party in a country authorized to receive critical technology from the West. In the United States, China has the largest foreign presence of any country, with more than two thousand diplomats and government officials and more than forty thousand students. Each year, more than twenty-five thousand Chinese businesspeople visit the United States. Many of these people are engaged in open, legal information collection, driven by the intelligence needs of their country, which is struggling to become an economic power. According to FBI officials, however, about 150 companies in the United States are owned by China, many for the purposes of importing and exporting goods between the two countries. Along with this task, the companies are used to move business and economic information from the United States to China. FBI officials also say it is common for Chinese authorities to ingratiate themselves with Chinese nationals working in the United States, especially those scientists and researchers in high-technology areas. They may be offered free trips home to visit family and friends, but in exchange for that gift they are expected to meet with government scientists in China and chat about their work in the States. The United States-based scientists feel obligated to spend time with the Chinese scientists, as the government has paid for their airfare home several times, which is very expensive.
UNIT 15 Building Strategic Intelligence Capabilities Through Scenario Planning
To date the new millennium has been marked by increasing uncertainty and rapidly accelerating change in the business environment of many organizations. Major change drivers in the macro environment including, continuing globalization, fast technological change, increased liquidity of wealth and fundamental changes in traditional values and cultural structures are well known. But as drivers in the macro environment interact with each industry’s own trends and uncertainties we find that the range of imaginable futures for individual firms has grown manifold in comparison to earlier decades. In highly uncertain business environments, it seems change is the only constant. Some changes are incremental while others are transformational and discontinuous. Some can be anticipated in advance while others come unexpected. In a world where uncertainty and change prevail, strategic planning without well-grounded methodologies and frameworks for assessing the future has become impossible. Above all, strategists and business planners need to learn to distinguish among the different kinds of uncertainties. They have to become confident in navigating uncertainty. Scenario planning distinguishes itself from other more traditional approaches to strategic planning through its explicit approach toward ambiguity and uncertainty in the strategic question. Secondly, business planners need new tools and methodologies to help deal with uncertainty in the strategy process. Scenario planning distinguishes itself from other more traditional approaches to strategic planning through its explicit approach toward ambiguity and uncertainty in the strategic question. There are other planning tools and analysis frameworks as well that are useful during times of uncertainty. But scenario thinking provides a comprehensive tool set. Scenarios can further be used as a building platform when using other tools and frameworks. The Competitive Intelligence function is an ideal location for the central nerve system in a scenario planning exercise and it is in a key position to help the organization deal with uncertainty and change. Scenario planning and methodologies can be used as a steppingstone in building up strategic intelligence capabilities.
2. Strategic Planning in a World of Uncertainty
2.1 STRATEGY AND UNCERTAINTY Business is about taking risks and strategic planning is a risk navigation tool. A company’s strategy is marked by the underlying principles and assumptions on which the success of the organization is being built. The success or failure of an organization’s strategy is determined by how well the underlying principles and assumptions are related to its business environment. There must be a good fit between the organization and its surrounding world. Developing a sound and healthy organization requires an understanding of the environment as much as an understanding of the organization.
Business is about taking risks and strategic planning is a risk navigation tool.
A more formal definition for strategy and strategic planning could be as follows: “Strategy is a fundamental framework through which an organization can assert its vital continuity, while at the same time purposely managing its adaptation to the changing environment to gain competitive advantage.” Strategy is, in other words, about the future and therefore involves uncertainty. Further, the success of a strategy is to a large extent determined by how well uncertainty regarding the business environment is understood and managed. The traditional approach to strategic planning tries to eliminate uncertainty from the strategic equation, by: 1. Relying on senior management’s intuition, 2. Assuming that with the right analysis and sufficient resources the future can be forecasted with enough precision, 3. Extrapolating trends from the past into the future or 4. Simply assuming a status-quo in the external business environment. It would be better to acknowledge that some uncertainty always exists when we are dealing with the future and that business foresight does not emerge solely from extensive analysis of the current market environment. Rather, the issue is to minimize the uncertainty at hand, to analyze the remaining uncertainty and to make strategy plans and analyses that acknowledge and are fitted to the prevailing uncertainty. We turn next to a discussion on different types of uncertainty and how to identity the various types and levels of uncertainty the organization faces while planning for a future strategy. Finally in this chapter, we look at tools for dealing with the identified levels of uncertainty. 2.2 UNCERTAINTIES AND TRENDS According to experts, there are three main categories of uncertainty which can be identified. (See among others Heijden van der, Kees (1996), Scenarios)
All single imaginable events and trends. demographics.3 LEVELS OF UNCERTAINTY OF THE DECISION ENVIRONMENT What is even more important to consider than uncertainty characteristics of individual factors and events. price wars. Where events classified as “risks” or “structural uncertainties” can be predicted to some extent. 2.g. culture. All single imaginable events and trends. 2.1.g. Risks.g. 3. e.g. e. This means that certain future developments are to some extent “predetermined. together form the decision environment of an organization. Laws of nature. limits to growth. System constraints. The inertia of the system (including social inertia). Further. strategy planning activities do make sense. where it is possible to estimate probabilities for various possible outcomes. e. the uncertainty characteristics of the individual interacting events and trends result in one of four possible uncertainty levels for a specific 192 . maximizing shareholder value as a basis for corporate motivation. economic development. Unknowns: events whose nature. All individual external factors that an organization faces in the future are characterised by one of the three uncertainty categories listed above. e. Structural uncertainties. together form the decision environment of an organization. developments that are “in the pipeline” and will emerge. the complete future business environment of an organization is determined by numerous future trends and uncertain and even unimaginable events. Certain kinds of constraints allow us to predict particular environmental developments: • • • • • • Time delays. facing the organization within a specified future timeframe and influencing any particular decision. However.g. is the total uncertainty level of an organization’s decision environment and the characteristics of that uncertainty level. causes and consequences are not known. Actor logic and motivation. facing the organization within a specified future timeframe and influencing any particular decision. Generic behaviour of structural feedback loops in a system.” Category 1 factors and events that are more or less considered predetermined are called trends. but there is no evidence for judging how likely it could be. e. where the possibility of an event presents itself by means of a cause/effect chain of reasoning.
Analysis cannot even identify the range of potential outcomes. cannot predict which one will occur. 2. Level 3 uncertainty is characterized by a decision environment where it is possible to determine a range of potential outcomes to key strategy questions. Under Level 4 uncertainty. Some other point within the range of possible outcomes could occur. though it may help establish relative probabilities and provide a clearer picture around each possible future outcome. A closed set of future outcomes refers here to a set that contains all possible outcomes and further so that each outcome is unique. 4. The four levels of uncertainty are presented in Figure 1 and described below. A decision environment that is characterized by a small limited set of risk factors or structural uncertainties presents the organization with a limited set of outcomes to key strategy questions . Many readers of business literature are familiar with the synonymous expression “mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive set” popularised by the international management consultancy McKinsey & Co. Level 4 uncertainties in the decision environment arise typically as a consequence of unknowns occurring in the business environment. 3. 1. If the future of an organization’s business environment and the key decisions the organization is facing are characterized by only a few risk factors whose probabilities are fairly high. a limitless range of potential outcomes prevails. in any specific moment. Instead. As the number of uncertainties grows the system complexity increases and it becomes impossible to determine a closed sets of future outcomes to key strategy questions. The outcomes will merely be representative of what might occur and thus not collectively exhaustive. then one can talk about a clear enough future.1 Analysis. This is not to say that all potential drivers of the decision environment are 100 percent predictable.decision environment.one of which will occur. described with the help of a closed set of future outcomes to key strategy questions. But note that future unknowns do not affect the level of uncertainty of the decision environment as unknowns by definition are outside the realm of imagination at the time of strategy analysis and planning. outcomes of key strategy questions are both unknown and unknowable. Organizations face Level 1 uncertainty when the range of potential outcomes is narrow enough that this uncertainty is irrelevant in terms of making a decision. that is trends. For an organization facing Level 2 uncertainty the decision environment can be. 1 193 .
Level 4 situations are rare and they tend to degrade to lower levels of uncertainty over time. for example. They occur during or after major disruptions or discontinuities. when potential regulatory or legislative changes overshadow all key strategy questions of an organization. Situations marked by pure competition games (especially duopoly or oligopoly industries) or standards competition (e. Presenting the four levels of uncertainty. Decision environments with Level 1 uncertainty become rarer the further away the decision time frame is set. 194 . It is characteristic of this situation that the entire future structure and dynamics of the market are being questioned and are outside the reach of our analysis tools. social or economic upheavals. are hard to find in today’s economy. Organizations facing a decision environment with level 1 uncertainty operate in industries that are not affected by external shocks. major technology breakthroughs or other revolutionary developments.g. competition on competitive markets with many participants and changing customer preferences. The business environment and its future evolvement are complex enough to make point forecasts and identify closed sets of future outcomes impossible. The origin of uncertainty can lie in major technology. Organizations most often face Level 3 uncertainty in their decision environment when dealing with medium term strategy planning. Some sources of Level three uncertainty are unstable macroeconomic conditions. in which the future paths of all key drivers are clear enough. many evolving technology markets are marked by network externalities and positive-feedback systems that may lead to serious standard competition3) are other good examples of decision environments under Level 2 uncertainty. But it is not a situation characterized by Level 4 uncertainties where one cannot even bound the range of possible outcomes.Figure 1.2 Pure Level 1 situations. A decision environment with Level 2 uncertainty arises.
a picture of what the world looks like today. scenario analysis is an important part of the toolsets and a suitable starting point for analysis under uncertainty levels 2 to 4. such as Porter’s five forces model. the SWOT model and the newer “value network” -approaches. a snapshot of the prevailing situation is inadequate as a starting point for strategy planning. in other words. They provide little foresight on industry dynamics and. as uncertainty regarding the future is the dominant characteristic in decision environments with higher levels of uncertainty.4 LEVELS OF UNCERTAINTY AND ANALYSIS FRAMEWORKS AND TOOLS The entire exercise of identifying the level of uncertainty for a specific decision environment is worth doing as the different levels require different tools and frameworks for analysing the future business environment. are well known and much used in business environment research and strategy work. lowers the uncertainty associated with the decision environment by describing and framing possible future outcomes. are of less use in times of uncertainty. But. as a basis for analysis and strategy work under uncertainty Levels 2 and 3. Traditional analysis models are however still well suited for analyzing the decision environment under Level 1 uncertainty.2.3 195 . making sound strategy decisions continuously is not possible without researching and monitoring the decision environment. The traditional analysis tools and frameworks. The problem with these traditional tools and frameworks is that they give a snapshot of a situation prevailing in an industry or company. as such. Further. As can be seen. Figure 2 gives an overview of frameworks and analysis tools suitable for the different levels of uncertainty. The traditional toolset needs to be augmented with analysis frameworks that directly deal with the future development of the business environment or. Traditional analysis models are also useful in giving a situational analysis.
Frameworks and analysis tools for the different levels of uncertainty 196 .Figure 2.
Scenarios are used for various strategy process related purposes. Scenarios are plausible in that there is. The following. the system being studied. it is possible to further identify leading indicators and signposts that should be monitored and that should function as the basis for an early warning system. Scenarios represent pictures of possible future outcomes based on both today’s facts and on assumptions of what can be extracted from the trends that we are able to identify in the present. Consequently. or should be. Also. Scenarios . Scenarios are descriptive narratives of plausible alternative projections of how a studied system will evolve in a specified time frame. definition of scenarios seem to be widely accepted4: Alternative projections facilitate comparing and contrasting what could unfold under distinct conditions and assumptions. Scenarios also serve to challenge conventional thinking. it is common to extrapolate past experience and to assume the future as a continuation of the present. • • Strategy development Improving assumptions behind planning is the most obvious use of scenarios. risk assessments of a company’s business portfolio and individual projects can be made by testing these under different scenarios. i. or some very similar.3. By concentrating on critical uncertainties and identifying and analysing central influencing factors. They are descriptions of possible futures and are not forecasts. some degree of evidence to support the projections they contain. Basis for early warning system Maybe the most interesting application of scenario planning is to use the exercise as a basis for early warning systems. • • • • • • • 197 .what are they? Scenario planning and analysis is planning aimed at systematically exploring alternative lines of development in the outside world and their consequences for one’s own business. To further generate new ideas and insight scenarios can be used as starting points for war games and simulation exercises. Much of today’s business life is hectic and most managers’ time is spent on routines. The central objective in narrating scenarios is to expose the dangers of assuming that the future will be a simple continuation of the present trends. industry or area. Strategy evaluation In addition to using scenarios as a starting point when drawing up new strategies.e. scenarios are useful for testing the robustness of a company’s strategies under each scenario.
1 DEFINING SCENARIOS See e. thereby making the cognitive aspects of any situation more manageable to deal with. As a cognitive reflection tool: The scenario process helps people think through ideas generated in the strategic conversation more effectively.• • • • In a similar fashion scenario analysis can be used for identification of critical information needs in general. that in turn permits coherent strategic action. • • • • At the group level As a ready-made language provider. 2. Randall. Under Level 3 and Level 4 uncertainty a closed set of scenarios is not possible to identify. By definition. and are the most relevant to corporate needs” or Fahey. Rather.” 4 • As a cognitive device: A set of scenarios is a highly efficient data organization tool. As a vehicle for mental model alignment. Scenario planning and analysis in this setting is a more creative process than under Level 2 uncertainty and it also offers great learning opportunities for the organization. Stories are efficient in giving many different bits of information a mutual context. in a decision environment with Level 2 uncertainty a closed set future outcomes or scenarios can be identified. • • 1. Liam. people see certain things and overlook others based on their existing mental models and resulting expectations. Jonathan (1999). These scenarios offer the possibility to estimate probabilities and expected pay-offs for different strategies and outcomes. As a conversational facilitation vehicle: Scenario planning provides an organized way of discussing relevant aspects of the business in an organizational context. Story. The Frontiers of Fortune: “Scenarios present different narratives of possible futures. As a perception device: As individuals.g. (1998). assisting the strategic conversation across a wide range of partly conflicting views. The scenario process increases the range of what participants see and expands their mental models. Organizational learning Scenarios contribute to the learning process in a number of important ways5: At the individual level 3. 198 . Robert M. Learning from the Future: “Scenarios are descriptive narratives of plausible alternative projections of how some future will evolve. each scenario is merely a plausible description of the future.
if possible. conduct. There are a few differences though. and performance in each possible future outcome. Figure 3. there is no universal scenario planning and analysis method. These scenarios can be used for evaluating strategies and their robustness to the range of possible outcomes. describing the path to each of the outcomes. Instead. Two main categories of scenarios and associated methods can be identified as described in figure 3 below. Still. there are a large number of different techniques and methods for generating and using scenarios in planning and decision-making contexts. When dealing with Level 4 uncertainty analysis cannot even identify the range of potential outcomes. The two main categories of scenarios. Assigning probabilities to each outcome. And finally. • • 199 . Under Level 3 uncertainty it is not possible to identify a closed set of future outcomes and associated scenarios but it is possible to build a number of representative descriptions of possible future outcomes within a bounded range of possible outcome. scenario work is one of the most useful tools available as it can help managers “envision the possible” in the chaos and allows the strategists to test strategies for different future outcomes. • • • • Scenario work under Level 2 uncertainty is fairly straightforward and amounts to: Specifying key aspects of company and industry structure. Scenario work methods and outcomes for decision environments marked by uncertainty levels 3 and 4 are both based on the same ideas.However.
move inwards towards the organization. Conduct influence analysis 5. Rank by importance and uncertainty 4. later in the scenario work process. Study implications for strategy 9.2 THE SCENARIO PLANNING PROCESS A suitable scenario work methodology under uncertainty levels 3 and 4 could be briefly described as follows. It is usually a good choice to start from the business environment and. Test for consistency 7. Flesh out the scenarios 8. Agree on implementation plan 12. Also. Discuss strategic options 11.3. The focal issue or question should reflect some part of or theme in the organization’s external business environment. The method can be broken down into twelve steps: 1. Select leading indicators and signposts 10. Identify and group factors 3. Identify the focal issues and create a group 2. the focus timeframe should be set at this stage. Publicize scenarios 1. Select the scenario logics 6. It is also important to form an appropriate group for steering the scenario process and for doing much of the drafting work. Questions to consider include: • • • • • What is a good size for the group? Should an outside consultant lead the project or are there people mastering the process available inside the organization? Should outside experts be invited to join? How is it possible to get different views represented in the group? How should the group be set up to ensure 200 . Identify the focal issue & create a group The organization needs to identify key decisions or focal issues that will have an impact on how it does business.
Flesh out the scenarios Create narratives and illustrate the different scenarios.2. This phase often works on identifying keys to success. 201 . 4. 6. Discuss strategic options The strategist should develop strategies that match the organization’s visions as well as changes in the outside world. and also on identifying areas that the organization should move away from. Populate the scenarios with data on potential market size. and so on. reactions of key players. they should be ranked or sorted on the basis of importance and uncertainty. A matrix tool that maps a complete set of options against the scenarios can be used to systematise the process. A useful tool at this stage is to create a correlation matrix for at least the key uncertainties identified and the trends with the highest perceived impact. 3. success areas that should be concentrated on. Most of the traditional toolbox can be used to test company positions and strategies under different scenarios. One additional useful analysis at this stage is to determine under how many scenarios a given decision is viable. 7. At this stage a combination of workshops. Rank by importance and uncertainty This is really an issue of focus. Identify and group factors Trends. Create skeleton scenarios. Choose high-impact uncertainties and use results from the impact analysis in deciding for indicators. financial impact. Conduct influence analysis Analyse how the different uncertainties and trends are interrelated. eliminate scenarios that are uninteresting or irrelevant from the viewpoint of the focal issue. Select the scenario logics Choose a limited number of key uncertainties to build your scenario logics around. Test for consistency Ensure that the skeleton scenarios are internally consistent and eliminate any that would not make sense. listed and grouped. interviews and desk research should be used. 9. 10. After a large number of factors have been identified. Select leading indicators and signposts Identify signposts or leading indicators to alert us to the unfolding of a particular scenario. 5. uncertainties. Create some interesting stories on how the various elements might interact under certain conditions. events and other factors in the external business environment. 8. should be identified. which influence the focal issue. Study implications for strategy The analysis of implications should reveal weaknesses in decisions or plans and opportunities and threats in the future business environment. High-impact events that are nevertheless highly uncertain represent the cornerstones of scenarios. Further. Here it’s best to let your intuition play a larger role.
The scenarios must produce a new and original perspective on the client’s issues. That means that events within a scenario must be related through cause/effect lines of argument. and direction. • • • 4. Organizations commonly make two basic mistakes in the scenario process: They rely on input from too narrow a group of people or they curtail the process too early. Questions to be considered at this stage include at least: • • • What is the target audience? What channels can be used to reach the target audience? What is the most efficient method to get the attention of the target audience? The following is a list of some additional important things to consider in a scenario process.11. They must have an element of surprise. They must be internally consistent. That means that they must grow logically (in a cause/effect way) from the past and the present. strategies. They must be relevant to the issues of concern to the organization. • • • • At least two scenarios are needed to reflect uncertainty. Strategic Intelligence can be defined as: “a systematic and continuous process of producing needed intelligence of strategic value in an actionable form to facilitate 202 . It is easy to have ideas but often difficult to implement them. Publicise scenarios Dissemination of scenarios is crucial for ensuring implementation and adherence to the ensuing strategies. comprehensive and challenging idea generators and test conditions against which management can consider future business plans. Each of the scenarios must be plausible. Having more than four has proven organizationally impractical. The key questions are: • • • When? Who? How? 12. Agree on implementation plan When the overall strategy has been determined a concrete and clear plan needs to be put together. They must provide useful. Scenario work as a basis for building strategic intelligence capabilities Strategic Intelligence is a type of Competitive Intelligence produced for strategic purposes.
By creating a shared view and language with a regard to the external business environment. in fact. complicated interconnections of key issues are analysed during the process. Another crucial (70 percent) issue of development in the companies studied was the utilisation of internal information. For individuals involved in scenario analysis a process development of their strategic analysis capabilities will take place. Typical problems in Strategic Intelligence and. In addition to providing a framework for envisioning future developments. A recent comprehensive study on Competitive Intelligence in large Finnish companies found that recognising critical information needs and utilising internal information are the two factors that companies feel are their most important targets for development. • Scenario planning provides an effective means for collecting information and knowledge from inside the organization: • • By involving key persons and experts in the process. 76 percent of the companies studied felt that crucial needs for information were not recognised at all or not well enough. as the method focuses on key uncertainties in the business environment. The Competitive Intelligence function is an ideal location for a scenario work headquarters as: • 203 . This again helps in activating the internal network and in communicating focus areas for monitoring of the external environment so that the internal network can be utilised for collecting weak signals. As the scenario planning process ideally involves experts from around the organization. How does scenario work help the Competitive Intelligence function in building strategic intelligence capabilities? • By helping in identifying critical information needs. Competitive Intelligence operations as well are: • • • • The organization does not recognise its critical information needs Weak signals from the business environment go unnoticed Information from experts within the organization is not used effectively There is too much raw information scattered around the organization. while not enough structured and analysed information is available. and further.long-term decision-making”. Further. Recognising critical information needs was considered a significant area of improvement mainly as the operations concerning business information acquisition and analysis were currently not systematic or comprehensive enough. a comprehensive list of critical information needs is an additional outcome to the scenarios themselves. closely related to identifying critical information needs is the possibility of using a scenario planning exercise to set up an early warning system. • • By providing a basis for continuous dialogue with top management and internal experts.
the organization can proceed to crafting the actual strategies and implementing them. The process starts by defining the strategic issues and questions at hand and analyzing the prevailing uncertainty. 204 . the future of the organization’s business environment and the key decisions the organization is facing are characterized by only a few risk factors. Once the decision environment has been analyzed and a clear enough picture of different future outcomes and competitive constellations has been reached. The persons involved in Competitive Intelligence work possess the skills and means to collect and analyse information regarding the business environment. Conclusions In today’s business environment where uncertainty and change prevail. If. the traditional analysis toolset is sufficient. 5. Given the rapid pace of change in uncertain business environments. In practise this means repeating the process over and over again. Finally. a scenario planning process should be initiated. on the other hand. Figure 4 describes a framework and process model for navigating uncertainty and for practising effective strategic intelligence.• • • The Competitive Intelligence function is a knowledge centre with a focus on the external business environment. strategic planning without well-grounded methodologies and frameworks for assessing the future has become impossible. If the decision environment is characterized by an uncertainty level higher than 1. if the Competitive Intelligence function is meant to serve not only operational but also strategic needs. It is of great advantage to the process itself that the exercise is led by a party with a neutral point of view and that is not aligned with any special business area of the organization. organizations have to monitor their business environment and update their strategy choices over time. scenario work is a basic building block which cannot be bypassed when analysing the future business environment.
Involve a wide group of people from the organization in the process. Don’t rush into deciding the focal issue and the topic for the scenario analysis. • 205 . milestones and deadlines for the project and communicate them around the organization. One of the most powerful contributions to a good scenario process is the direct and ongoing involvement of key decision makers. certain critical aspects should be taken into account: Set up clear objectives.Figure 4: Process description for a scenario planning based strategic intelligence process • • • • In order to practice effective strategic intelligence based on scenario planning. Make the decision makers owners of the scenarios.
Arun. Reserve enough resources for fleshing out the scenarios. McGraw Hill Professional Book Group Ringland. Communicate effectively and imaginatively. building an Early Warning system and for communicating the scenarios and their operational implications. Inc. Randall. Peter (1996). Harvard Business School Press. Scenarios in Business. Liam (1999). A. Developing Business Strategies. Scenarios. Harvard Business School Pr 206 . John Wiley & Sons. Have fun. (1998). Fahey. Kees (1996). John Wiley & Sons. Ltd Maira. Robert M. analysing strategy implications. Varian. Competitors. David. 20/20 Foresight. Inc Heijden van der. Ltd Shapiro. Inc. Learning from the Future. Fahey. John Wiley & Sons. Gill (2002). (1999): Information Rules. Courtney. Hugh (2001). Hal R. The Accelerating Organization. Carl. Scott-Morgan. Literature References • • 5.• Be sure not to curtail the process too early. Aaker. John Wiley & Sons. Liam. (1998). John Wiley & Sons.
formed a partnership to offer a branded credit card with points earned to buy an auto from GM. In February 2000. opportunities and threats. In August 2002. growth. started testing full-service Dunkin Donut counters in their stores. Fairmont Hotels teamed up with Porsche to offer hotel guests the “tour de Fairmont.000 package includes four nights in a hotel suite. message content. Though it is helpful to assess direct competition in terms of competitive positioning (i. even those that may be slightly under the radar. developing and emerging. One approach is developing a “SWOT” analysis—strengths. Connecticut. Novartis Pharmaceuticals and the Quaker Oats Company (since acquired by PEPSICO Inc. Radio Shack will operate the boutiques. Bean (catalogue selling). These companies seek new approaches to their businesses. They look to identify synergies 207 .L. etc. Other ways of assessing competition include segmenting your competitors by nature. Indirect competition may be subtle and use what may have once been undeveloped distribution channels. form a joint venture or alliance to create a new and different type of offering.A new way of looking at competition Most companies look at competition in a traditional way: They identify obvious or direct competition first—and sometimes only.” The $8.” which occurs when two seemingly disparate companies. spa. what intended message is communicated or stands out in someone’s mind). Here are some examples. weaknesses. Each competitor is analyzed and compared to your company by these four characteristics. representing different industries or product categories. In June 2001.. In October 2002. such as Avon and Tupperware (direct selling). Texas and Nevada. We view the trend for invisible competition to be increasing. new indirect competitors are always evolving. Ga.) formed a new company called Altus Foods to develop new “functional” foods.e. Amazon (online marketing and selling) and L. Oklahoma. New Jersey and Atlanta. • • • More and more companies are looking for growth beyond traditional strategies. Home Depot stores in Massachusetts. golf services and a picnic lunch for a rally-style drive from various Fairmont hotels. old and new: • • In 1992 General Motors and Household Credit Services Inc. media used. Blockbuster Video opened Radio Shack “boutiques” inside 130 stores in Virginia.. the use of a Porsche Boxster convertible. profiling each segment and developing sub-strategies to counter them.. There are various methods of monitoring and analyzing competition.UNIT 16 The New Age CI . an insulated Porsche wind jacket. Another emerging view of competition is what we call “invisible competition.
Identify and Visit Representative Customer Operations and Facilities The working group identifies several representative customer facilities. and operations Reaffirm/Validate Threat Agent/Scenarios During this initial portion of the Vulnerability Assessment. • • • • Time spent thinking about invisible competition can benefit a company in several ways: Traditional means of assessing competition are helpful. but may be limiting. Assessing Vulnerability The Vulnerability Assessment consists of the following activities: • • Reaffirm/validate the threat agents and scenarios for continued study Identify and visit representative customer operations and facilities Assess threat agent impacts on customer employees. international borders and with non-traditional partners. non–site-specific impacts of the scenario-based terrorist attacks. Just thinking about invisible competition may help identify new growth or alliance opportunities for your own company. and previous visits to customer facilities. These impacts are based on Threat Assessment data. the Public. but a new idea can usually be tested to determine viability.across industries. defend or neutralize a competitor’s new initiative. This activity may also help preempt. in distribution channels. These facilities are visited to gather operational information needed to support the assessment of generic. a review of customer operations. Assess Threat Agent Impacts upon Customer Employees. Thinking about invisible competition necessitates a team or brainstorming approach. including the Department of Defence’s Joint Service Integrated Vulnerability Assessment and more 208 . the working group validates the expected impacts from the threat-agent scenarios of greatest concern. professional judgment. patrons. Some risk may be involved. like Starbuck’s in Barnes & Noble bookstores or Dunkin Donuts in Home Depot stores. and Customer Operations Several vulnerability assessment approaches are considered for each project. There are opportunities out there waiting to be discovered to offer your company’s products and services in unique and innovative ways. This deeper thinking may stimulate ideas to facilitate new ways to market your company’s products or services. which can generate a higher level of thinking about future competitors.
and identify operations that either cause/enhance or moderate/inhibit the expected impacts Observe general facility layout that could worsen/moderate the expected impact Consider heating. or even your customers. given sensitivities of customer workers. and facility walkthroughs. With that information. and on the Internet. and relationships with customers.recent variations used in support of critical infrastructure protection. These types of assessment typically include both in-briefs and out-briefs to facility management. You can find information about competitors in the press. time to process. Never assume. What You Need to Know Who are my competitors? Depending on the size of your company and the products or services you offer. you probably already know your competition—from advertising. and air conditioning (HVAC) designs and other items pertaining to air movement in a facility Consider the influence of maximum shift size. Who else is offering what you offer? Many products and services could be classed as non-essential and so customers may be choosing to spend their discretionary budget between two very different market sectors. starting with what your competitors say on their own Web sites and in their brochures and annual reports about their capabilities. Are you losing business that way? Is a larger company hurting your business by giving away a competing service as a promotion device? Always be alert to the different ways that others could be taking business away. review of appropriate security planning documents. and plans. It is also used to determine the expected impacts from the scenario-based terrorist attacks. the working group may adopt a much less intrusive approach. However. Vulnerabilities are identified and the resulting potential impacts from attacks are evaluated. initial identification of known problems and priorities. trade shows. floor space. weaknesses. and planned detection or protection measures on expected impacts The information gathered from the facility visits is used to develop a generic vulnerability assessment based on the threat agent scenarios for representative operations and facilities. and use the comparison as the basis for performance improvement. you can compare the performance of your business with that of your main competitors. measuring factors that are important to quality of service. Profiling Your Competitors To pull ahead of your business competitors. assess equipment. trade publications. however. A typical approach includes the following steps: • • • • Walk process flows. ventilation. one that focuses on general characteristics of customer operations with the objective of identifying generic vulnerabilities. 209 . Competitor information can be obtained from many different sources. interviews with operational staff. that you know everything you should know about the competition. industry surveys. you need to build a detailed profile of their strengths. resources.
service quality etc. Where are your main competitors located? How do they compare in size (to your company and to one another)? Are they growing? How do your products compare with your competitors’ offerings? Think about price. Make sure the information you find is current and that it comes from reliable sources. Ask yourself: • • • • • How many competitors do you have? Do they compete directly or indirectly? Who are your major competitors—those that threaten to take away your most important customers? How much of your business do these competitors threaten? Quantifying the threat helps you to prioritize your own activities. brand image and reputation. Your marketing campaigns or product launches can be affected by what your competitors may be doing at the same time. Should we use an independent research company. Don’t overlook the wealth of information you already have in your company or can gain through your own contacts. your business faces an unknown risk. What are customers’ attitudes toward your competitors and toward your own company? Can you (or your customers) identify any weaknesses in your competitors? Who are your competitors’ main customers? • • 210 . provided you or your staff has the time. How reliable is published competitor information? Use your critical thinking skills to assess the accuracy and quality of any published information that is used for research. What to Do Identify Your Competitors Competitor information helps you to identify how you can gain a larger share of the business from your competitors and how to protect the business you have. so you should be able to obtain it yourself. You also need to be aware if a competitor is threatening to take away your important accounts. or conduct the research internally? You can conduct the research internally. you may need to use an independent research organization.Why is competitor intelligence so important? You need to understand what competitors are offering so you can offer at least as much to customers. Much of the source material is in the public domain. Customers may not be completely honest with your own representatives. If you wish to research customer attitudes toward your company versus your competition. methods and quality of distribution. Unless you monitor competitor activity and take appropriate action. so learning what you can about their plans is important.
and other intermediaries Overall good reputation with employees as well as customers. They can obtain similar information from retailers or distributors. comment forms or toll-free telephone number made widely available Flexible approach to pricing. marketing campaigns. special offers. measurements from your industry Commitments made to customers—for example. 211 . and then use your results as the basis for a program of performance improvement. Willingness to negotiate prices for important customers. On a scale of 1 to 10 (where 10 is the best in the market). • • • Make Use of Your Sales Force By talking to customers. they can get a feel for the customers’ awareness and attitude toward your competitors. and why? Which of your competitors’ customers do you want to win? How strong are your competitors’ relationships with key customers or key decision makers? How long have they been dealing with them? Have your competitors invested in links with customers that would make it difficult for other suppliers to make inroads? Does your company have the skills and resources to overcome the competitive threat? Compare Your Key Competitive Factors Listed below are a number of factors that are important to meeting customer needs. and new developments. for example. distributors. such as the use of price incentives or financing plans to appeal to different types of customers. for example. your company’s sales representatives can find out about competitors’ direct sales calls. problems quickly resolved by frontline staff rather than referring customers to higher-level managers High levels of after-sales service and support offered Product adapted readily to meet customer specifications Evidence of commitment to quality measurements. Staff knowledgeable about the product and willing to use knowledge to help customers Good reputation with agents. Emphasize the things that matter to your customers rather than to your own opinions: • • • • • • • Evidence of an excellent service culture. Crucially. offering money-back guarantees or precise delivery schedules Evidence of feedback encouraged—for example.• • • • • Which of your customers might switch to your competitors. how does your company rate? Consider each factor carefully.
and exhibitions. and capabilities as well as any customer case studies or news releases that may be posted on the site. You can also ask the company to survey customers to reveal their attitudes toward your company versus your competitors. Look for published results of industry surveys. a growth strategy. promotions. and Internet information. annual reports. They may become more cost-effective and able to offer lower prices. Monitor trade publications (many are available on the Internet) and the general press for useful information about your competitors. These are some of the possible scenarios: • • • Heavy advertising expenditure could indicate a competitor trying to win greater share or attempting to remedy losses in that market. plans. or may be taking on additional overhead that they must finance. 212 . or a sudden loss of staff. • • To gain a better idea of your competitors’ financial health. Press announcements about new production facilities could indicate that your competitors are trying to increase their business significantly. press activities. exhibition presence.Monitor a Variety of Public Sources You can learn a great deal about your competitors from their own public information: corporate brochures. You may have the staff resources to maintain a file of press clippings on your competition. Analyze Competitors’ Promotional Activities By monitoring your competitors’ advertising. Recruitment drives may signal a change in direction. Announcements about new branch or dealership openings could mean that competitors are expanding into new territories. Hire a Research Company If you do not have the internal resources to monitor competitive activity. you can assess their strategies. Customers may be more willing to discuss their attitudes with an independent researcher than they are with someone from your company. or they may be an emergency response to declining sales. which can provide useful insights into your entire market as well as your competitors. Price promotions may indicate that your competitors want to be perceived as valuefor-money suppliers. Check your competitors’ Web sites frequently for updates on their products. or you may wish to hire a clipping service to gather material for you. you may be able to obtain information from credit reference agencies. you can hire an independent research company to perform all the tasks outlined above.
Consider Benchmarking Once you have assembled detailed information about your competitors. In reality. More commonly. Jim Collins writes in Good to Great (2001) that focusing solely on what you can potentially do better than any other organization is the only path to greatness. You Fail to Make Use of Competitor Information Competitor information is valuable only if you use it to refine your own strategies or take defensive action to protect your business. You Act on Incomplete or Out-of-date Information Be cautious about acting on competitor intelligence until you have as much complete. benchmarking will give you a baseline assessment of your company’s effectiveness in the marketplace and some insight into where competitors may be gaining the advantage over you. Clayton Christensen says that competitiveness is far more about doing what customers value than doing what you think you’re good at (Christensen 2003). Information from these sources can provide a valuable starting point for developing detailed competitor profiles. we tend to label competitors by any one of the following terms: • • • • • • Aggressive Industrial Direct/indirect Mature Domestic/international New/old Dominant Small/large Emerging Strong/weak Extreme Tough “Extreme competition” is the most recent addition. Invisible Competition: Think Differently Competition has been referred to in many ways. you can benchmark your performance against theirs. competition has become more challenging and complex. Constantinos Markides of the London School has also applied the terms “unknown” and “maverick” to describe competitors. accurate. and other public sources and—most important—from your staff. and more strategic information is likely to be confidential. the press. We all tend to categorize or refer to competitors in these simplistic terms. up-to-date information as possible. What to Avoid You Overlook the Obvious Sources Some competitor intelligence is freely available from the Internet. Simply gathering information without analysis or action is wasteful. Michael Porter said that competition is at the core of the success or failure of firms. 213 . Competently done. your customers. Published sources can provide only a partial picture. and your competitors themselves. This means that you may make incorrect assumptions in planning your response to competitor action.
Tom Peters puts it more bluntly: The real enemy these days is more likely to be the competitor that doesn’t make it onto your radar screen—but really does have a seriously better idea that will nail you to the wall (Peters 2003. Ford/GM. or who appear totally unexpectedly. However. “Whoever you think your competitors are. Competition is not invisible. and more complex companies. The shift focuses on offense instead of only on defence. but there are competitors we may be blind to see. and industry consolidations across continents have generated some very large. We suggest a paradigm shift in terms of how we look at competition. what the game is. but broadens it and gives competitive intelligence practitioners a more strategic role. They have acquired multiple companies in the United States and elsewhere. not only to monitor and protect our business franchises. acquisitions. For example. We sometimes lose track of who owns whom and where parent companies are based. to form Sanofi-Aventis. [A paradigm is a set of rules and regulations that establishes or defines boundaries and tells how to behave within those boundaries. Historically. The frequent mergers and acquisitions of the past two decades often support this “same industry” trend. often representing different industries or product categories. they aren’t” (Hamel 2002). European based examples of such companies include Nestle. Examples include CocaCola/Pepsi-Cola. a new set of rules. 214 .Competing in the same industry If we look at examples of companies that are generally seen as competitors. Furthermore. and WPP. A paradigm tells you there is a game. p 229). Unilever. (Barker 1993)] The paradigm shift suggesting does not replace competitive intelligence as we now define it. global expansion. they almost always represent brands competing within the same industry. It provides credence for monitoring and analyzing competitors in a new way. and Dell/COMPAQ. Home Depot/Lowe’s. and how to play it successfully. The following is our definition of invisible competition: When two seemingly disparate companies or organizations. The concept of “invisible competition” suggests ways to identify new business opportunities for a company. diverse. It can engage colleagues cross-functionally to brainstorm ideas that can legitimize and translate to business-building scenarios. The French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Synthelabo merged with another French pharmaceutical company. A paradigm shift is a change to a new game. Exxon merged with Mobil to form ExxonMobil (two petroleum companies) and Daimler-Benz merged with Chrysler to form Daimler-Chrysler (two auto companies). A number of experts are confirming this premise: Gary Hamel’s view is. In essence. form an alliance or joint venture to create a new and different type of product or service offering. competitive intelligence professionals and business managers view competition in this same way: let’s look at or monitor our competitors in the same industry. competition is not what it used to be. but for offensive and growth purposes. Aventis. Crest/Colgate toothpaste. Nokia/Motorola. the process can facilitate innovative thinking.
Reduce new product failure rates. we suggest the following steps: • • • Actively monitor joint ventures. How do you spot invisible competition? To effectively monitor your organization’s invisible competition. to brainstorm what ideas your findings may suggest to consider as a growth opportunity for your company. Enhance shareholder value (for a public company).] 215 . Facilitate global expansion. Other invisible competition examples also exist. There will be more and more invisible competition in the future. For example. We must use findings to proactively recommend action. alliances. 2006 in Orlando. 5. We must think and monitor competition differently. Quicken market entry. [Note: This article is adapted from a presentation given at the annual SCIP meeting on April 28. Implications Invisible competition has several direct implications: 1. but more important. We must look for patterns and success stories. We must use the process as a facilitator: a. Increase the value proposition to customers. To engage and communicate with management b. while others are hard to identify. Some are kept confidential. and breakthrough product launches beyond your direct competitors. Monitor emerging companies and new technologies. We must learn from successes. Identifying invisible competitors is only the first step. For creative brainstorming 6.“Invisible competition” has the potential to do the following: • • • • • • • Reduce new product development costs. Identify new business opportunities. 2. Form a cross-functional “competition team” to meet regularly and share competitive sightings and information. 7. 4. Matsushita (the maker of Panasonic products) has aligned with Intel (August 2005) to develop a laptop battery that will last all day. 3. See the Box below for some examples. using them to legitimize and trigger new growth ideas.
Jim (2001). formed a joint venture to develop a line of oral care gum and confections for global distribution. Leading the revolution. The two companies will develop a line of molecular diagnostics to target Alzheimer’s disease. MA. Collins. (April 2005) General Electric has a medical division that sells multimillion-dollar magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and related radiology equipment and services. 216 .’ Business and Economic June. The products use both the Nestle and Colgate brand names. Christensen.” Coca-Cola has launched a Body Style Water and Shiseido a Body Style Mist. This launch not only generated $175 million in the United States in its first year but also revitalized the 125-year-old Listerine brand franchise. Review. These two companies formed a strategic alliance to develop beverages for body-conscious consumers based on Shiseido’s “aroma therapy. One of their branded products is Inneov Hair Mass.Examples of the “invisible competition” Concept Listerine PocketPaks (September 2001) Warner-Lambert (now owned by Pfizer) partnered with a Japanese company to offer a proprietary new product. Clayton (2003). New York. Kenneth (2005). Harvard Business School Press. HarperCollins. This division has never formed an alliance with a pharmaceutical company until now. Good to great. They will work together to develop an injectable agent that can scan a patient for any “attached plaque. Cambridge MA. Fox. The Innovator’s Solution. hair. based in Switzerland. GE and Eli Lilly & Co. April- Hamel. “the first nutritional supplement to energize hair. Nestle and L’Oreal (August 2003). HarperCollins. and Nestle. based in New York City. Cambridge. New York.” Coca-Cola (Japan) and Shiseido (Japan) (April 2004) Shiseido is Japan’s largest cosmetic company and the world’s fifth largest. These two Europe-based companies formed a joint venture to create Laboratories Inneov to develop a line of “inner beauty products” for skin. Harvard Business School Press. and nails.” References: Barker. Gary (2002). These products whiten teeth and fight plaque. Joel (1993) Paradigms: The business of discovering the future. ‘Seeing the invisible. both under the Aroma Works brand name. Colgate-Palmolive and Nestle (June 2003) Colgate.
West. Harvard Business School Press.A 217 . Scott Erickson. From Knowledge to Intelligence: Creating Competitive Advantage in the Next Economy. All the right moves. Re-imagine! Business excellence in a disruptive age. 2004. London. Tom (2003). and G. Early Warning: Using Competitive Intelligence to Anticipate Market Shifts. Books: Gilad. Rothberg. Patrick (2005). and Create Powerful Strategies. Dorling Kindersley. APPENDIX . Spring. Peters. Markides. Butterworth-Heinemann.Huyett. Palgrave Macmillan. Chris. Cambridge. S. Benjamin. Helen N. Constantinos (1999). MA. William and Viguerie. 2003. 2003.” McKinsey Quarterly. Competitive Intelligence. AMACOM. “Extreme Competition. Control Risk.
The tagline of Southwest Airlines' strategic profile is clear: a fun and simple wine to be enjoyed every day. Six Principles of Blue Ocean Strategy ----------------------------------------------------------Formulation Principles attenuates Reconstruct market boundaries Focus on the big picture. then. and a compelling tagline. the company does not diffuse its efforts across all key factors of competition. an effective blue ocean strategy like Southwest Airlines has three complementary qualities: focus. Without these qualities. These three characteristics serve as an initial litmus test of the commercial viability of blue ocean ideas. divergence. Southwest Airlines' value curve has focus. undifferentiated. When expressed through a value curve. a result of not benchmarking competitors but instead looking across alternatives. The shape of its value curve diverges from the other players'.Cases on Competitive Intelligence Strategy Three Characteristics of a Good Strategy Southwest Airlines created a unique and exceptional value curve to unlock a blue ocean. and hard to communicate with a high cost structure. a company's strategy will likely be muddled. not the numbers Reach beyond existing demand Get the strategic sequence right Risk factor each principle Search risk Planning risk Scale risk Business model risk ----------------------------------------------------------Execution principles attenuates Overcome key organizational hurdles Build execution into strategy Risk factor each principle Organisational risk Management risk ----------------------------------------------------------- A look at Southwest Airlines' strategic profile illustrates how these three qualities underlie the company's effective strategy in reinventing the short-haul airline industry via 218 . The four actions of creating a new value curve should be well guided toward building a company's strategic profile with these characteristics. As shown in the strategy canvas.
and frequent point-to-point departures. we can see at once that the company emphasizes only three factors: friendly service.value innovation (see figure below). Focus Every great strategy has focus. as well as by creating new factors drawn from the alternative industry of car transport. should clearly show it. Southwest Airlines was able to offer unprecedented utility for air travellers and achieve a leap in value with a low-cost business model. The value curve of Southwest Airlines differs distinctively from those of its competitors in the strategy canvas. Southwest offered high-speed transport with frequent and flexible departures at prices attractive to the mass of buyers. The Strategy Canvas of Southw es t Airlines Price Lounge Car transport Southw est connectivity Hub Average airlines FIGURE Southwest Airlines created a blue ocean by breaking the trade-offs customers had to make between the speed of airplanes and the economy and flexibility of car transport. By eliminating and reducing certain factors of competition and raising others in the traditional airline industry. Southwest has been able to price against car Speed 219 . Its strategic profile is a typical example of a compelling blue ocean strategy. and a company's strategic profile. Looking at Southwest's profile. To achieve this. or value curve. speed. By focusing in this way.
In fact. slower speeds. and seating choices. in the case of Southwest. lounges." That's the tagline of Southwest Airlines. therefore. seat choices. Consider the similarities in most airlines' meals and business-class lounges. lounges. Southwest's traditional competitors invest in all the airline industry's competitive factors. Compelling Tagline A good strategy has a clear-cut and compelling tagline. with standard service. Investing across the board.whenever you need it. What could Southwest's competitors say? Even the most proficient ad agency would have difficulty reducing the conventional offering of lunches. and creating. By contrast. reducing. 220 . previously. raising. Indeed. Southwest. or at least it could be. the value curves of blue ocean strategists always stand apart. On the strategy canvas. the industry operated through hub-andspoke systems.transportation. and higher prices into a memorable tagline. it doesn't make extra investments in meals. it loses its uniqueness. By applying the four actions of eliminating. In contrast. pioneered point topoint travel between midsize cities. making it much more difficult for them to match Southwest's prices. reactive strategists tend to share the same strategic profile. these companies let their competitors' moves set their own agendas. and hub links. for example. they differentiate their profiles from the industry's average profile. or else customers will lose trust and interest. Costly business models result. the value curves of the company's competitors are virtually identical and therefore can be summarized on the strategy canvas with a single value curve. Divergence When a company's strategy is formed reactively as it tries to keep up with the competition. "The speed of a plane at the price of a car . a good way to test the effectiveness and strength of a strategy is to look at whether it contains a strong and authentic tagline. A good tagline must not only deliver a clear message but also advertise an offering truthfully.
Far East. which enables it to segment its customer base to deliver precisely targeted. following the creation of Virgin Atlantic Airways. South Africa. the Caribbean.000. tailored and personalised communications • • • The client Formed in 1985.the largest scheduled tour operator in the UK.000 passengers annually and membership for its loyalty programme . Virgin Holidays has carried in excess of 350. The organisation's high customer loyalty and enviable levels of repeat business are a reflection of its commitment to constantly improving the way it interacts with clients and optimising all channels such as the internet to improve levels of service and profitability.B Case Studies Customer intelligence for Virgin Holidays Client name: Virgin Holidays Project at a glance • Virgin Holidays . development. execution. Virgin Holidays offer trips around the globe including the USA. intelligent. Canada. New Zealand and Australia.the Frequent Virgin Club stands at more than 100. 221 . offering trips around the globe Virgin Holidays is committed to improving customer relations and wanted to maximise the effectiveness of its direct marketing campaigns Detica used its customer intelligence and analysis expertise to automate the company's marketing processes from start to finish including planning. Over the past few years. management and measurement of its campaigns The Virgin Holidays now has an analytical single view of its customers.APPENDIX . It has become the largest and most successful scheduled tour operator in the UK.
Detica also implemented the multi-channel E. Detica's specialist Customer Insight team then worked with Virgin Holidays to look more widely at the Group's entire customer management strategy.reviewing how the organisation managed its customer relationships and recommending a series of 'quick win' projects. The resulting cluster analysis provided Virgin Holidays with a colourful and informative view of its customer base. management and measurement of all its direct marketing campaigns. The Detica solution Detica's recommendations resulted in a new project to carry out a campaign management trial using the multi-channel campaign management solution from E-piphany. Working in partnership with Virgin Holidays' sales and marketing department. Detica was initially approached by Virgin Holidays to carry out a Customer Insight Audit . This was a highly complex task.and to ensure it was getting the most from its marketing budget . execution. Virgin Holidays recognised that a more intelligence-based and individualised approach to customer management would not only be a huge competitive advantage. which consolidates customer data from a variety of disparate systems and puts it in one database.Virgin Holidays wanted to improve its ability to use customer data intelligently to maximise the effectiveness of its targeted direct marketing campaigns. by accelerating its campaign management capabilities.piphany campaign management solution. and overlaying geodemographic and attitudinal data in order to provide enriched value-based segmentations. 222 . Detica's consultants first concentrated on improving the organisation's customer data quality before turning to sophisticated customer segmentation and profiling. Detica was asked to automate Virgin Holidays' marketing processes from start to finish including the planning. but also increase bookings and allow it to take advantage of more up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. development. it wanted to tailor offers to specific customer segments by identifying booking patterns. Following a six-month pilot.The Business challenge As part of this commitment to its customers . Furthermore. giving the Group access to even more complete and accurate information. broken down into a number of discrete segments. considering the sheer numbers of Virgin Holidays' customers.
comments: "Successful campaign management is critical to our overall strategy and Detica's recommendations took into account all of our business objectives . at the right time. "By utilising Detica's expertise. Detica's experience in customer intelligence and the fact that we had already worked successfully with them before made them the natural choice". and run control groups and test sales to work out the potential effectiveness of different parts of the marketing mix. The travel company can now offer tailored holiday packages to particular groups of customers." 223 . This has led to a dramatic change in the marketing department's ability to track and measure campaigns. the new system can provide sophisticated and extensive intelligence on specific customers. target segments and old campaigns.piphany to execute direct mail campaigns. What the client said Kathryn Beadle. The measurement and planning aspect of the system has also started to deliver major benefits in terms of cost savings by cutting out imprecise targeting. we can demonstrate best practice in Customer Relationship Management and get the right message to the right people. Outcome and benefits For the first time. The implementation and associated costs are scheduled to payback within a short period of time. Sales and Marketing Director at Virgin Holidays. increasing repeat bookings and ultimately the profitability of direct marketing campaigns.which enables it to segment its customer base.the 'holy grail' for most businesses . Virgin Holidays is using E. We need to profile our customers very accurately and continue to develop our close relationship with them. within the space of a minute! This functionality allows the Virgin Holidays to measure which customers respond to which campaigns. and to take advantage of more up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Virgin Holidays has an analytical single view of its customers . measure more traditional above-the-line marketing.With this in place. through the right channels.not just the technical ones. leading to reduced campaign cycle times and the ability to deliver precisely targeted and personalised communications.
as was having formalized ETW processes linked to mainstream R&D activities. Relying on self-developed R&D leaves your company open to being blind-sided. not simply to have more information but to identify partners for future research programs." creating "a steady rise in the cost and complexity of generating technical advances. 224 . There are several reasons for this: Few companies can rely on their own developed R&D to meet their technology needs because of both cost and time constraints. Identifying enabling technologies that support core competencies was a key issue. including joint activities with universities. Chevron's long-range research efforts were focused on serving the research needs of existing business units. A benchmarking study comparing technology monitoring at several companies showed the importance of paying attention to the context within which ETW is carried out.APPENDIX C Benchmarking the “External Technology Watching" Process: Chevron’s Experience Derek L." or ETW. The additional efforts of its technology awareness committee are geared toward monitoring technologies not now within any business unit's planning horizons. Herb Fusfeld (1995: 52-56) states that "Technology managers have had to develop access to external sources of technology. Chief technology officers. government labs. and other companies. Traditionally. It's good practice to leverage the R&D dollar by taking advantage of other's progress. "industrial research came up against a limiting characteristic of technical progress. Looking outside one's own company for technology developments has become an increasingly important process." Thus the technical self sufficiency of corporations began to decline. Ransley CHEVRON RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY COMPANY EXECUTIVE SUMMARY "External Technology Watch. can help position efforts to better meet the CEO's initiatives. In a recent paper. or senior technology committees. is Chevron's term for monitoring how emerging technologies can impact the company. as with other companies." It's Fusfeld's contention that sometime between the mid1970s and the late 1980s.
The networks focus on technology rather than the social/political issues (e. We hired IPG to help us do the secondary research. how batteries became more efficient over time). both positively and negatively. and other companies. our long-range research effort is governed by the needs of the existing businesses and. follow the literature. while the company sponsors research both inside and outside of Chevron. the Technology Awareness Committee was satisfied with the ETW process but wanted to see if it could be improved. and so on. Typical of this effort are a network focused on global climate change and another on electric vehicles.. which we leverage through joint programs with universities. The former subject is not one that a Chevron business unit would want to spend its R&D dollars on. The committee identifies areas of technology to watch and supports networks of interested Chevron employees who agree to attend external conferences. The committee is a corporately funded group of middle managers from both our technology and our operating units. Chevron's Technology Awareness Committee was formed in 1988 to "watch" for technologies that might impact our company in the future."External Technology Watching" (ETW) is Chevron's term for monitoring changes in the technology arena that can impact our company. since electric vehicles have now advanced into Chevron's planning time frame. Overall. and interact with academia. neither the committee nor the networks sponsor or conduct research.. As to the Electric Vehicles network. government labs. A joint presentation was 225 . the committee was able to respond to senior management's concerns by assembling the facts that assured them it was not a threat to our business). the program is not charged with monitoring technologies that are not now within any business unit's planning horizon. although we would certainly benefit from being aware of any possible impact on the industry. we sought an external consultant to assist in the process.g. this network has turned over to the business its knowledge. accumulated over several years (e. 1995: 50-57) at a meeting of the Strategic Planning Institute's Council on Benchmarking. even though they are not now an issue for any of our business units. However. identify best practice partners and to develop the questionnaire that we used in the data gathering phase of our study.g. As with other companies. In contrast. For that reason. we have become aware of technology changes through our long-range research program. THE BENCHMARKING STUDY Once we decided to undertake a benchmarking study. However. a benchmarking study was commissioned. We had learned about Verna Allee and the Integral Performance Group (Allee. when cold fusion had its day.
for a sample questionnaire). In many cases the committee was chaired by a chief technology officer. Subsequently. Several companies had formal external technology watching groups or individuals who had taken on this task. However. Allee at SCIP's 10th Annual International Conference in 1995. 226 . The final participants . By context we mean the organization. All these factors were perceived as being strong positive influences on the external technology watching process. It shows that all participants had a Senior Technology Committee. This was the case.made by the author and Ms. we quickly realized that we also had to pay attention to the context within which ETW was occurring. 1995: 50-57). The methodology used is described more fully in her paper (Allee. . The Context Figure 1 summarizes the context findings. and processes used by our benchmarking partners that made them successful in this area. was sent to the participants (see Allee. THE FINDINGS We had fully expected to learn about different approaches other companies used to learn about external technology threats and opportunities.our partners in the Chevron .sponsored study were: Amoco Corporation British Petroleum Elf Aquitaine Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). telephone interviews and video conferences. About half of the participants had spent considerable efforts to understand their core competencies. systems. 1995: 55-56. developed in conjunction with IPG. DuPont Eastman Chemical Company 3M Monsanto Company The questionnaire. data was then gathered by face-to-face interviews.
occupied positions of prestige. a paper by Ed Roberts (1995: 44-56) of MIT decried the fact that so few U. Usually. companies had chief technology officers. Subsequent to our study. and to identify areas to be studied that are not now part of the immediate technical program. the process was tied to a technology needs assessment with a focus on the long term. CORE COMPETENCIES The tests for core competencies. Chief technology officers. FORMAL ETW GROUPS/PEOPLE Four of our participants had formal ETW processes with staff in place to do the work. We were not clear whether this affected their ETW process. can bring key technology issues to their attention as well as help to better position technology efforts to meet the CEO's initiatives.Companies _______________________________________________________________________ Contextual Areas Chevron A B C D E F G H -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Senior Technology Committee X X X X X X X X Chief Technology Officer Formal ETW Process Core Competency Focus Baldridge Criteria Used X Figure 1 X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ We also learned that many companies with technology watching efforts use the criteria of the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award to focus their improvement efforts. to effectively integrate the total corporate technical resources. Our partners were strongly supportive of the CTO position. and were recognized as valuable contributors. It has the ability to bring resources to external technology watching efforts and can identify the needs and interests of senior corporate officers. to resolve cross operating company issues.S. These groups were an integral part of the mainstream technology activity. They were well known throughout their companies. it does indicate a process-driven company. However. SENIOR TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEES AND THE CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER The role of the committee is to make high-level R&D decisions. depending how close they are to their CEOs. as defined by Prahalad and Hamel (1990: 79-91) questions whether the competency: 227 .
These include the "tried and true" approaches as well as some unique methods. DC that were responsible for keeping the company aware of social and political changes. in turn. Most of the companies in our study had offices in Washington. Often the ETW group or person was aware of these factors but only included them informally in the ETW process. Although most of these companies did not consider this as part of their ETW process. Companies enter into joint programs with the full expectation of a return. ETW Approaches Figure 2 summarizes the findings related to approaches used by different companies to learn about technology changes external to their companies. the interaction provides the industry an opportunity to become aware of new developments and to begin planning for their application. there was substantial variation in the degree to which this high-level information was shared around the company. 228 . Understanding the key capabilities needed to support the core competencies. Even with the more common approaches there were lessons to be learned. Understanding their core competencies and identifying enabling technologies that support core competencies. was a key issue for our partners in focusing the ETW process.Provides "potential access to a wide variety of markets. Is difficult for a competitor to imitate." Makes a significant contribution to the perceived customer benefits of the end product. It is now thought of as a mutual benefit. Although an immediate project may be the focus. University Programs Joint programs with universities used to be thought of as an aid to recruiting and something of a charitable donation. This is far from true today. helped with workforce planning.
especially regarding finances. Avoid product research where intellectual property concerns are highest. Focus on work that takes advantage of the government's excellent equipment. "we have great people. those on the government side still have less interest in applying their work and would prefer to operate in a more academic environment. 229 . Often. Advisory Committee Consultants Customer Partnerships Future Needs Terms X X X I/O I/O X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X Chevron A B C D X X X X X X X X X a X X X X X X X X X E X X X X X X X F X X X G X X X X X X X X H X X X X X X X X Government Lab Associations Government laboratories are aggressively seeking opportunities to work with industry. Industry people feel strongly that "it doesn't count if it's not applied. our findings indicated that government labs are difficult to work with. The problem appears to be rooted in a cultural difference between government and industry people. wonderful equipment. and we will do anything you want. They suggested that companies considering such a partnership: Make sure that they have an effective infrastructure in place. The message is (with only a bit of exaggeration)." We were offered some tips by our participants for working with government labs.Companies ETW Activities Government/Public Affairs University Programs Government Programs Alliances w/Other Companies Offices in Other Countries Professional Societies Internal Networks Scientist Forums Key Expert Panels Sabbaticals (In/Out) Ext." Despite this effort.
Consultants play an important but ill-defined role. Experts are willing to donate their time for the opportunity to learn and discuss with other experts." This is followed by "doing the right things right. "There is so much stuff out there that I don't have the time to sort through it all" was a common lament.S. Be prepared to take the business to a different lab if difficulties develop. The screening process can be enhanced by consultants (Box 5). They were afforded low-level funding and made use of the interest of middle-level technical managers. in turn. Technology vendors. Further inputs come from the operating company or business unit needs (Box 8). There is an individual or a small group that has re- 230 . Realize that the position of Program Manager in government labs is a high-level position. performing the ETW process effectively. when they were. Input on social and regulatory changes (Box 1). The screening stage is akin to "doing the right things. GLOBAL EFFORTS Almost half of our U. where difficulties with unstable political environments were encountered. were said to add value. influences the senior technology committee (Box 2). The committee and the corporate and business unit plans (Box 3). An ETW Model The diagram shown in Figure 3 is an attempt to map the findings of this study into a model for ETW. as at Chevron. participants maintained offices outside the United States strictly for ETW purposes. The latter involves a rotating committee of highly acclaimed scientists. Some of these were in Eastern Europe. The person elected by the company to lead the project is equivalent to a Program Manager and should act accordingly. The former are brought together as a need is identified. Vendors were encouraged to learn about a company's needs and offer only selected opportunities that meet those needs. These networks tended to be more aligned with existing company activities or were focused on specific technologies used across a variety of projects. Internal networks and scientist forums were used by two thirds of the participants.Use government labs to improve the cycle-time of well-defined projects. which act as an "environmental umbrella" around the technology screening process. and/or key expert panels (Box 7). Key expert panels and external advisory committees were not widely used but." that is. . were not perceived as adding much value. internal scientist forums or networks (Box 6). on the other hand. screen for appropriate topics for the ETW process (Box 4).
Analyze results. There were those processes that were well established. in particular. Prepare a monitoring plan. The Science and Technology scanning process proposed in that paper has six steps. This involves interaction with a group described here as "technology providers" (Box 11) or possibly through internal networks (Box 10). These were supported by a variety of alternative processes-expert panels. Disseminate monitoring products. one. informal internal networks that focus on specific competencies-which might flourish in different organizations. 1994: 5-16). We believe that the model shown in Figure 3 is a sound one for ETW. It may be that these issues were addressed in their scenario planning. The screening stage. These are: Define user needs. more detailed but consistent model is shown in a recent paper (Ashton et al. government labs. 231 . such as alliances with universities.. Several of our partners had excellent processes in place. Perhaps the weakness was that the "environmental umbrella" was not in place in many instances. An overlapping. Acquire source materials. which was not a focus of our interviews.sponsibility for performing the ETW function (Box 9). We did not uncover any "silver' bullets" in terms of processes for performing ETW. Review monitoring performance. and other companies. is enhanced by determining core competencies.or two-day off-site meetings of a company's senior scientists. These describe in more detail the activities in Boxes 4 and 9 in the model proposed in this article.
S. from the level of activity that our initial premise that the ETW process is growing in importance .It was clear. The latter involved the use of senior technology committees and chief technology officers. This benchmarking study may have had some small influence on this decision. His first 27 years with Chevron were spent in petrochemicals R&D and R&D management. SUMMARY Our findings from the benchmarking study of the ETW process fell into two categories: the expected lessons related to the approaches used by others to monitor technology opportunities and threats and those related to the context in which the process was conducted. Ransley served as a senior planning consultant at Chevron Research and Technology Company. where he worked since 1962. in Organic Chemistry from Yale University. competitor assessment. and other companies plus a variety of less frequently used approaches. degree from the University of Wales (Cardiff) and an M.D. 232 . formalized ETW processes linked to mainstream R&D activities and understanding core competencies. and Ph. however. His portfolio includes benchmarking. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Derek L. ADDENDUM In August 1996 Chevron announced the creation of a Chief Technology Officer position reporting to the CEO. and best practices. cycle-time reduction. government labs. He received a B.S. The former involved mainly joint activities with universities.was well founded.
Daimler-Benz Aerospace. deliveries. out of which are derived alternative future prospects for the next 20 years. but should be collected and analyzed for trends. Ransley describes Chevron's "external technology watching" program. orders received. and so on. Scenario Analysis and Early Warning Systems at Daimler-Benz Aerospace Franz Tessun DAIMLER-BENZ AEROSPACE AG EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Among competitive intelligence professionals there is a perceived need to be more predictive of possible future events. the ability to collect and analyze early signals indicating a competitor's future technological direction is a key factor to maintain competitive advantage. Franz Tessun provides a look at how scenario analysis and early warning systems alert his firm.financial situation. these studies provide excellent models for monitoring-and exploiting-technology-based opportunities. as benchmarked against efforts at other companies. The case studies in this section go a long way toward remedying this situation. which is why technology monitoring in its various guises is a crucial componel1t of corporate competitive intelligence. a strategic early warning system can be developed by constant monitoring of the company's vital statistics . while the concepts of commercial competitive intelligence have been well documented. the main forces affecting future developments should be generated along with the relations between these forces. Being blindsided by a competitor's technological advances can have devastating consequences. Yet. calls for new ways of planning and researching into the future. All in all. with its multitude of interdependencies and interactions. where competitive monitoring is conducted through a strategic early warning system given its direction by scenario analysis and how the analysis results are used to influence strategic decisions. The author describes competitor analysis at Daimler-Benz Aerospace. These "signals" may not be able to be classified at the moment. CI professionals can make significant contributions to corporate strategic planning. Whether your firm operates globally or not.D COMPETITIVE TECHNICAL INTELLIGENCE IDENTIFYING THREATS AND OPPORTUNITIES EMERGING FROM TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE In this section. technology intelligence has not received the same level of attention. Scenarios describe the advent of completely different worlds. The complexity of the aerospace industry. 233 . By using scenario development designed to provide decision makers with insight into future possibilities. to technological threats. Daimler-Benz Aerospace adopted a scenario approach that describes how "the system" of future developments exists as a network. In a scenario.APPENDIX . Based on scenarios. not simply different events in the same world. Derek L. we delve into the subset of CI known as competitive technical intelligence (CTI). The focus is on how risk factors could change the future horizon. Because conventional forecasting methods have proved insufficient. Scenario planning points out the most important areas for monitoring.
we try constant constantly to keep an eye on the vital statistics." These are signals that cannot be classified at dicator the moment. and it is nearly impossible to predict the more need for airplanes over such a long long-term period.Based on scenarios we create a strategic early warning system. EIGHT SCENARIO STEPS USED BY DAIMLER DAIMLER-BENZ AEROSPACE The main steps in the dynamic scenario analysis process are shown in Figure 2. deliveries of aircraft. etc. such as linear regression? It is not ear enough to use the classical and traditional methods of market forecasts because such methods traditional deal only with historical data. This provides the main knowledge about the dynamics of the whole system. The scenario analysis technique is not a forecasting tool but a means of describing possible alternative futures. not just for events that might occur in more or less the same world as today’s. 234 . Linear patterns are more or less quantitative (see Figure 1). orders received. such as the financial situation. These consist of: 1. 2. Another indicator is the "weak signal. In other words. all you can do is collect them and try to find a trend after a few weeks of observation. Scenario analysis allows planning for the advent of alternative future worlds. THE SCENARIO ANALYSIS TECHNIQUE Why do we deal with the subject of scenarios within Daimler Daimler-Benz Aerospace. Task Analysis-Defining the problem and trying to achieve a common understanding of Defining rstanding what you want to analyze in the future. The product cycles in our industry are more than 25 years. To repeat. if we already have w classical market forecasting tools for predicting the future. a scenario describes different types of worlds altogether and not ferent merely different events in more or less the same world as today's. Influence Analysis-Analyzing all the relationships between the primary factors of the Analyzing scenario.
This is nterrelationships descri not a very creative task. 235 . The computer puter. two to five alternative scenarios are selected. Examples of a network of interrelationships and of a factor description mples are given in Figures 3 and 4. as determined in step two. and needs to be done carefully. calculates all the possibiliti and provides scenario frames that are then formulated into possibilities nario standard language. Building Alternatives-Filling in a cross-impact matrix on which you evaluate the Filling connections and interrelationships between all the predictions of the descriptor. The description mostly determined most covers the current situation and give three alternative predictions of the future. Normally. an important one for the results of the scenario. 4. Descriptor Determination Determination-Describing the contents and making definitions of all the influencing factors of the system. Scenario Interpretation Interpretation-Entering this evaluation into the computer. This is a gives very creative step. but nevertheless.3. 5.
Several dampening factors coincide (projection B) and growing safety/security consciousness (accidents. 3-4 Cargo is increasingly transferred to other transportation means (typically road transport). Less economic growth than expected.Description Air transport consists of passengers (business. The main driving force is economic development and affordable ticket prices. for instance an atomic accident or military conflicts. prior to the oil crisis of 1973. terrorism. These actions are an important starting point. both positive and risky consequences are suggested and interpreted. our main competitor. Night flying is limited. Transport growth is limited by capacity constraints and affordability of flying. B. the annual growth in air traffic amounts 3 %. Consequence Analysis-Establishing consequences based on the assumption that one sumption particular scenario will take place in the future. Current situation Currently. Scenario Transfer-Presenting management with various options for actions in the event Presenting of each scenario. currently carries out its strategic planning on the basis of scenarios. Short and long long-haul air traffic do not develop at the same rate. There are normally many actions that can be undertaken regardless of how the various scenarios differ. a member of the German chemical aged BASF. but which may have a Investigating great influence on the scenario if they do happen. Premises: Demands for passenger and air cargo develop at different rates. regions) causes the growth to stagnate. industry. terrorism and unsafe holiday terrorism. . Friction Analysis-Investigating factors that are highly unlikely. Boeing. Royal Dutch/Shell. For every chosen future world. tourism) and cargo. BASF. 6. Local crises/wars. Figure 4 Example of a factor description 4. 236 . also uses air traffic scenarios for strategic planning. C._ narios There are many examples of the scenario technique successfully applied in the past and the applied a present. 8. Shell was thus the only oil company that managed to survive the oil crisis satisfactorily. Greater environmental consciousness and rising ticket prices dampen growth. Focus is on intra intra-regional transport. 7. The growth continues as hitherto. Remarks on the projections A. had developed a scenario outlining a course of action if oil prices were to rise dramatically.
but you know nothing about the realistic and short-term trends for these factors. into which we put in qualitative information.Daimler-Benz Aerospace has developed scenarios for the global revolution of air traffic up to the year 2015 as well as regional scenarios for the continents of Europe. you have possible pictures of the future and a better understanding of the interrelationships between the factors within the scenarios. In addition. So." We have also developed business plans for our operational business. you need to develop and put into place a monitoring system to determine what will be going on in the future and whether. Qualitative Information Management 237 . the scenario planning is based on an environment monitoring system. we periodically evaluate a so-called "guide strategy. which looks 10 to 20 years into the future." they are on the lookout for special areas of interest. our team recently developed a detailed scenario about the future possibilities of ground handling. Scenario Planning (10 years) Environment Monitoring System Qualitative Information Guide-Strategy (Annual) Permanent Annual Planning Business Plan Short term Actions Figure 5. Figure 5 shows the qualitative information management system used by Daimler-Benz Aerospace. the predictions you have made are still correct. and the latest research results from around the world. We have selected a number of individuals throughout the company to be monitors or "scanners. In short. A key element of our information management system is scenario planning. new developments. or whether your future projections for these factors are really correct. with the passing of time. and Asiainvestigating different regions and establishing the chances and risks in the various markets. THE EARLY WARNING SYSTEM After having developed scenarios. From that. North America.
and which ones are "driving" the system (and therefore need to be given priority monitoring). orders received. there are other important indicators. scenario planning provides hints as to what and where the most important developments are. deliveries of aircraft. Then. and so on.If there is a trend that needs to be followed in the near future. However. If necessary. tem) Moreover. there are always some short short-term developments that are observed by the scanners served within the respective countries. It is clear that you can't monitor all the fields that are essential to your business. we modify the strategies or business plans based on what the scenario analysis-based monitoring (the strategic early w based warning system) is telling us. driving" 238 . alistically "Weak signals" are also trend indicators. these are signals that cannot be signals classified at the moment. for instance. for example. cover the financial situation. and we try to dedicate some actions to these. In other words. part of the annual planning process. These figures will. Business and scenario planning is made a scenario. so all you can do is collect them and try to find a trend after a few weeks. we use it for our scenario planning. the increase in the world population or the world economic growth. We inform the dedicate management of such trends to give them the chance to decide whether the identified trends are the important for our company. we constantly keep an eye on the vital statistics. We consider the trends expressed by these indicators and look for those trends that could realistically influence our business at the moment. and for correcting and modifying our basic scenario. our company. As noted earlier. Figure 6 charts the strategic early warning system in.
there is secondary market research. databases.THE INFORMATION BASE What are the information sources for such a strategic early warning system? As shown in Figure system? 7. which takes place about every third month nced with the purpose of supporting management. product positioning. and customers' sales organizations. opinion leaders and experts. Nearly all available information sources are used in our company. and analyses. We have marketing areas. This could only be accomplished through the cooperation of a number of people who have agreed to collect the people needed information and pass it on to us. All these elements are immacro-area. company pub1ications. and branch studies. Within Daimler Benz Aerospace. product information. and summarize the information in a way that is readable and comprehensible to management. for traditional market research. including marketing information sys systems (MIS). we need a great number of information sources. competition. the Internet and World Wide Web. and the macro area. market studies. the have destination market. information. plans. We evaluate the daily press. We have specific reporting for our technical program leaders. sales channels. im portant for our strategic early warning system. price information. which is intended to 239 . Then. there is primary market research and benchmarking. b1ications. We try to carry out enhanced management reporting. First. specialist trend letters. specialist and business press. THE COMMUNICATION PROCESS We then evaluate and interpret this data. and for monitoring research. branch meetings. competitors. we have put the Daimler-Benz qualitative marketing information system into practice as described. We use statistics.
the main problem here is communicating and coordinating all these heterogeneous tasks. As you would suppose. we have a very uncertain environment. and thus stable forecasts. and complexity in its market environment. which is sure to become more uncertain as time goes on. uncertainty. possible. CONVINCING MANAGEMENT In today's competitive economy (see Figure 9). We saw that we were dealing with structured markets that ment. every company faces great turbulence. to better deal with all the challenges of the techniques. future. Figure 8 shows the interrelationships r inte between all these elements. We must react to the dynamics of the market and realize that the future is very difficult to foresee and things are changing faster than in the past. We must learn to understand the complexity of this environment and incorporate it into our strategic development.support the marketing and sales functions in our company. To cope with the surprises many trends presen we present must try to incorporate new scenario techniques. it often was good enough to have internal strategic development. made future calculations. In the past. Nowadays. 240 .
We also have to keep politics. We involve all the important and essential groups within our country. . For instance. product divisions. To help us. board of directors. and product interests. More than two years ago.Unfortunately. management will often not accept the first weak signals and qualitative hints of a possible event. We have learned from experience that it is important to involve all the duct divisions in our study and decision-making processes to ensure acceptance of the results. and relevant others. They take into account environment. we make a formal analysis. Even the most painful decisions should be discussed with the departments involved at a very early stage. and with financial assets. resources. Then. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE TOTAL PROCESS Let's turn to another area connected with competitive monitoring. and all the external examples and databases we need. economics. monitors. we have found that the anticipated pattern of the air transport system is more important strategically than the precise forecast of the numbers of aircraft required in the next century. and then prioritize the problems to effectively deal with them. For instance. Strategic studies help to formulate and evaluate strategies to achieve corporate objectives. As described earlier. R&D activities. industrial trends. and all the relevant aspects of the global and regional environment in mind. such as a rise in outsourcing at McDonnell Douglas. and coordinates all the activities needed for such a large-scale study. We involve people dealing with the technologies. increased meetings held between Boeing and McDonnell Douglas as well as with the government. and so on. markets. we bring together the strategic staff. marketing experts. we try to analyze all these factors within a large framework of interrelationships to get a deeper understanding of the dynamics of the system. manufacturing infrastructures. These people sit down together and view the problems. we have a "study board" that plans. we warned management about the possible merger between Boeing and McDonnell Douglas. What is to be done if there is a problem to be solved (see Figure 10)? The first step is to collect all the relevant ideas from key staff inside the company. 241 . and the results are discussed with our experts within Daimler-Benz Aerospace. Top management did not believe this intelligence because it \vas based only on weak signals. Our next step is the implementation of large-scale studies. alliances.evaluate them.
242 . Competitor Ana1ysis in detail and competitor with strategic conclusions is onl carried out at Daimler-Benz Aerospace on demand. which in stands for "DASA Market Information Sy System" ("DASA" is an acronym for Daimler-Benz Daimler Aerospace). We have only Benz the current basic data for our main competitors in our database. many colleagues have doubted whether students could carry out this task. r put it into the database. we form small. If you can answer all the questions in this document. Here you can locate every single competitor analysis as well as all the people who cate know anything about this specific competitor." All the analysis made by the team can be found i a special database called DAMIS. We are a large company. We also make use of people from our foreign representative offices. our company archive with annual e. This is a sensitive issue. and make b basic interpretations. databases on commercial hosts. On demand. let me add a few words about competit analysis. The experts from each division meet tw a year twice for the purpose of updating our DAMIS database. We have many information sources that enable us to carry out good competitor analyses. newspapers. e competitor-specific expert groups to generate a new competitor analysis. reports. Students do the basic work in the investigation of our competitors. magazines. and so on. providing you take a little bit of care as to how they are working and what they are capable of doing. to whom we can turn to. etc. we have some good friends in other companies. n including our own database.COMPETITOR ANALYSIS Finally. but sensitive I'm sure every competitive analyst has such relationships. In addition. They collect the basic data. you will have achieved a competitor analysis by "150%. Our experience is that the students do a fantastic job. We have developed a specific deve master document to guide the group through the analysis. so we are fortunate to have some e experts within our own Daimler Daimler-Benz Group. some special contacts with banks and brokers. This is an important fact to note because pretations.
a little behind us. ategic SUMMARY Innovation is a driving factor in our future economy. Nonetheless. possible what their strategic approach is to remain competitive in the market. Such changes in the competitiv landscape also lead to changes in the mental models competitive ead in the heads of management decision makers. it is very important to have the right product at the right time. Boeing. and Lockheed are in front of us. e Unexpected delays in product development or market changes are the norm and not the exception. 243 . You don't want a product that no one will buy. and GM. For future-oriented knowledge management.In Figure 11. there is a tremendous amount of work to do in monitoring all these competitors to know at the earliest stage possible what their future strategies and technology planning will be. McDonnell Douglas. We must mu understand at a fundamental level that the future is not just a continuation of the past. or at least lead to a systematic monitoring of the decision environment. Boeing and McDonnell Douglas have merged recently. British Aerospace. it is not enough to buy some trend oriented predictions or forecasts and to conveniently overlook possible trend frictions. there tle is United Technologies. Martin Marietta. and therefore we must know as soon as recently. you can see the main competitors of our company together with aircraft sales for the together year 1994. As you may well imagine. Aerospatiale.
La Opinión searched for untapped opportunities to help the paper regain its circulation and distribution momentum. Results: La Opinión met its annual increased circulation goal of 5% in less than a year. concerts and music. We helped develop projective techniques to elicit imagery about the paper among core readers. Such research helped attract more advertisers targeting this younger demographic. 244 .S.APPENDIX . To strengthen its appeal. the readership was primarily an older and lower-income segment. We reviewed dozens of readership and focus group studies. Such intelligence enabled us to identify strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats. increased its readership. We identified younger adult readers. as a viable target. we recommended La Opinión links its entertainment section with every hot entertainment property scheduled in Los Angeles. AMS conducted focus group interviews to determine if La Opinión was a valid option for their information needs. ages 18-34. we gathered intelligence about this younger demographic's media consumption preferences. A follow-up readership study showed La Opinión's readers were now younger and more affluent. they did not see the paper as a provider of what interested them most-entertainment news. younger readers and younger non-readers.E Small Cases in CI La Opinión How the largest Spanish-language daily newspaper in the U. The paper continues to focus on the youth segment as a core target and launched a new tabloid format entertainment section called "La Vibra" (The Vibe). sports coverage and classified advertising. habits and patterns. The irony: La Opinión's entertainment section was one of the most comprehensive in the market. Solution: AMS analyzed who did and did not read the newspapers. movies. Challenge: After a period of declining readership. Next. While the target considered La Opinión a credible source for news information. including club activities. While the publication appeared a credible source for hard news.
distributors. marketing. meal preparation and overall attitudes about supermarket shopping." We gathered and analyzed an extensive amount of consumer research. Hy-Vee. Challenge: The supermarket industry faced significant demographic changes and needed help to attract and retain diverse customer segments. community relations and marketing.Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council Cola How Coke initiated best ethnic marketing practices for the supermarket industry. the report has become a key industry handbook to help corporate. preparation Executive interviews were conducted with top ethnic manufacturers and marketers. Results: Since being published and released at the May 2002 Food Marketing Institute (FMI) convention in Chicago.S. 245 . merchandising. community affairs as well as Presidents from 41 of the most progressive ethnic marketing retailers in the U. The key to success: focus on product assortment and merchandising. regional and local store management more effectively serve the shopping needs and preferences of Hispanics. Interest in the manufacturer and retailer community has been significant with companies like Kraft Foods. Solution: AMS worked with the Coca Cola Retail Retailing Research Council and led a 10-month study titled month "Grow with America: Best Practices in Ethnic Marketing and Merchandising. market research firms. Winn-Dixie and Walgreen's gathering their key executives for in Dixie in-depth multi-day tailored presentations by AMS principals. Topics included food culture. shopping habits. ethnic media companies and trade associations. human resources. brokers. trade publications. These interviews also included top level supermarket top-level executives in buying. diversity in staffing. preferences African Americans and Asians. data companies. wholesalers.
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