Competitive Intelligence

Tactical, Operational & Strategic Analysis of Markets, Competitors & Industries

Ideas on how to start CI function for my EMS firm???

I work for an EMS firm and am having a difficult time starting up the CI function. The Officers of the company see the need but are not willing to assist. I have asked for them to share the company's strategy, future direction, industry we are focusing on, etc but they are unwilling to provide this information for one reason or another. They also do not want competitor profiles. Our marketing department will not provide their assistance with putting together a CI Newsletter ( I am not allowed to publish one without their input and need their web space).  I have started an alert email (called The Buzz) that goes out fortnightly that includes a presentation (5 to 7 slides) on a competitor, strategy and how to combative tactics as well as other tools to assist in quoting. This, by the way, has receive positive feedback. However, I am at a loss on what else to do... Can anyone provide some suggestions??

Thanks,
Sam

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Hi Sam

The main way to convince the executives is to show them the effect on dollars. There are two approaches you can take: 1) show that your CI effort is increasing the efficiency to perform some tasks in the company, thereby reducing budgets. 2) show that your CI efforts are helping win deals which increases income.

You can choose your partners to help you with this, whether it is marketing, sales, engineering, executives..etc. It sounds like you are somewhat of an island right now--you have very little help and assistance from other organizations and are left to your own accord. In this case your best bet might be to pick a strategic account to partner with. I've found that sales teams are always looking for help to win their deals faster because it directly affects their commissions. Further, if they are working on deals that bring in lots of revenue to the company, they can be very influential.

When you work with the account team, focus on items that you can re-use later for other accounts--competitive product comparisons, pricing studies, silver bullets, customer profiles, etc. These are things that you can use as templates later on and which in the long run will reduce your work load. They also are good pieces of information to share with the product and marketing teams in your company. Use the account team to gather as much information about the competitor from the customer as possible. Once you get to be viewed as an expert in gathering this data and presenting it, it will make your job as the CI professional much easier.

Hope this helps.

Mitch
Hi again Samantha,

Starting a new CI function can be very hard; and particularly so in a clime where necessary collaboration is hard to come by, resources are limited, the stakeholders seemingly cannot articulate or wont stipulate what they want/need, etc. It is a magnitude of order more difficult yet if the person attempting to lead/create the function doesn't already possess the ability to provide proactive, unprompted strategic intelligence to the executive audience which requires deep subject matter expertise on competitors, markets, technology in the first place to leverage as well as just the inherent knowledge of what the exec audience wants without being told. It sounds like you and/or your team are suffering from these factors.

So, that said, what executive audiences want:

1) Nonpublic HUMINT on what is happening inside key comeptitors walls that might give them an edge, and suggestions for how to leverage the triangulated information to capitalize on it
2) SEWS-Strategic Early Warning on whats coming-new products, mergers or acquisitions, changes in strategy, shifts in R/D spending allocation, new technology or partnerships, etc with enough lead time they can do something about it

I am gathering that historical depth and perspective are lacking, and maybe the HUMINT gathering skills, network are as well to provide strategic intelligence for the execs- so I'd shy away from this given it doesn't seem to be a competency UNLESS being strategic was indeed part of your charter.

IF being strategic is part of your overall CI charter, and the company has budget, it might make sense to hire someone with more formidable experience in your industry and success at providing strategic intelligence to the exec audience and let that person run Strategic CI and perhaps then you run Tactical CI since you seem to be having some wins on the current focused side and are capable in this arena. Large firms do separate strategic and tactical CI, and in my experience the skill sets/audiences and deliverables are different, so maybe this would be the best situation.....

Now if you don't have budget, and given apparently you/your team don't have the background/ skill sets of strategic analysts, I think you need to reset/clarify expectations with your stakeholders to focus on what you can do proficiently- and that's build out the tactical side.

Regards,

Monica
Hullo Sam

Some added comments to already good responses:

a.) Are there any Officer/s who could be "CI Positive"? If so, you could use them as well to promote CI within your Co. I'm not doubting your ability but sometimes Officers/Managers may only speak to Officers/Managers.
b.) As Zena mentioned, really try and get involved with an RFP/RFQ. This could be "small-scale" but presents good CI focus. What are competitors offering, 4 x P's (Place, Product, Price, Promotion). Yes, there are others e.g. Politians, but only if applicable to your environment. There should be a presentation done to the Officers from the Bid/Tender Manager for go/no go and this could provide an opportunity for you to promote CI.
c.) Seeing the Officers don't want competitive profiles, maybe you could focus on Early Warning. Surely there is something/s that are keeping them awake at night? Try and find out what these are and you can also focus on these.
d.) Identify ways/means to promote CI. You are 1/2 way there "Officers of the company see the need" - this is what you can "exploit". There could be a bit of a mis-understanding from their part as to what is CI. Issue wrt strategy could also be an indicator for this as they are/could be sensitive wrt the info i.e. only shared amongst Officers. Gain their trust.
e.) You could also highlight other areas where CI can assist e.g. Corporate Counter Intelligence - protection of their strategy, future direction etc.

Can add that I went through very similar situation that you're experiencing. One final comment ............ "PERSEVERANCE".

Kind Regards
Glenn
Hullo Sam

Eric Garland posted a video clip = "Explaining Competitive Intelligence". Maybe you could consider using it as part of awareness. All I can say is that the CI Practitioner in the clip has tons of patience.

Bye for Now
Glenn

There are two key solution indicators in the issue. The first relates to competencies for developing a virile competitive intelligence unit in a firm. The second deals with competencies for architecting, exploring and managing change at the pre-execution, execution, and post-execution stages of establishing a feasible competitive intelligence unit. I think the following presentations would be useful.

Competitive Intelligence Architecture

Overview of Competitive Intelligence

 

Cheers.

Dr Elijah

 

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