With due respect to the wisdom of the CI Brotherhood, Competitive Intelligence glossary is incomplete without the mention of "Strategic Inflection Points"
Strategic Inflection Points have been coined by the legendary Andrew S Grove of Intel.
I personally Advocate "Strategic Inflection Points". Those of us who are able to identify Strategic Inflection Points are able to generate cutting edge "Early Warning".
This is what it is all about. We are a special breed of men and women differentiated from billions of other human beings on this planet, because of our passion for Intelligence which generates "Early Warning" and thus we make a Difference in the lives of Corporations and Nations around the World.
- Vivek Raghuvanshi.
...........Strategic inflection points can be caused by technological change but they are more than technological change. They can be caused by competitors but they are more than just competition. They are full-scale changes in the way business is conducted, so that simply adopting new technology or fighting the competition as you used to may be insufficient. They build up force so insidiously that you may have a hard time even putting a finger on what has changed, yet you know that something has. Let's not mince words: A strategic inflection point can be deadly when unattended to. Companies that begin a decline as a result of its changes rarely recover their previous greatness.
But strategic inflection points do not always lead to disaster. When the way business is being conducted changes, it creates opportunities for players who are adept at operating in the new way. This can apply to newcomers or to incumbents, for whom a strategic inflection point may mean an opportunity for a new period of growth.
You can be the subject of a strategic inflection point but you can also be the cause of one. Intel, where I work, has been both. In the mid-eighties, the Japanese memory producers brought upon us an inflection point so overwhelming that it forced us out of memory chips and into the relatively new field of microprocessors. The microprocessor business that we have dedicated ourselves to has since gone on to cause the mother of all inflection points for other companies, bringing very difficult times to the classical mainframe computer industry. Having both been affected by strategic inflection points and having caused them, I can safely say that the former is tougher. I've grown up in a technological industry. Most of my experiences are rooted there. I think in terms of technological concepts and metaphors, and a lot of my examples in this book come from what I know. But strategic inflection points, while often brought about by the workings of technology, are not restricted to technological industries.
The fact that an automated teller machine could be built has changed banking. If interconnected inexpensive computers can be used in medical diagnosis and consulting, it may change medical care. The possibility that all entertainment content can be created, stored, transmitted and displayed in digital form may change the entire media industry. In short, strategic inflection points are about fundamental change in any business, technological or not.
We live in an age in which the pace of technological change is pulsating ever faster, causing waves that spread outward toward all industries. This increased rate of change will have an impact on you, no matter what you do for a living. It will bring new competition from new ways of doing things, from corners that you don't expect.
It doesn't matter where you live. Long distances used to be a moat that both insulated and isolated people from workers on the other side of the world. But every day, technology narrows that moat inch by inch. Every person in the world is on the verge of becoming both a coworker and a competitor to every one of us, much the same as our colleagues down the hall of the same office building are. Technological change is going to reach out and sooner or later change something fundamental in your business world.
Are such developments a constructive or a destructive force? In my view, they are both. And they are inevitable. In technology, whatever can be done will be done. We can't stop these changes. We can't hide from them. Instead, we must focus on getting ready for them. The lessons of dealing with strategic inflection points are similar whether you're dealing with a company or your own career. If you run a business, you must recognize that no amount of formal planning can anticipate such changes. Does that mean you shouldn't plan? Not at all. You need to plan the way a fire department plans: It cannot anticipate where the next fire will be, so it has to shape an energetic and efficient team that is capable of responding to the unanticipated as well as to any ordinary event. Understanding the nature of strategic inflection points and what to do about them will help you safeguard your company's well-being. It is your responsibility to guide your company out of harm's way and to place it in a position where it can prosper in the new order. Nobody else can do this but you. If you are an employee, sooner or later you will be affected by a strategic inflection point. Who knows what your job will look like after cataclysmic change sweeps through your industry and engulfs the company you work for? Who knows if your job will even exist and, frankly, who will care besides you?..................