Effective Collaboration in Market & Competitive Intelligence
There are plenty of collaborators and stakeholders involved in the competitive intelligence process. Every inquiry is special and different and includes varying actors.
Here is how to avoid misalignment and waste of resources through transparent interfacing.
Too many chefs in the kitchen
That machinery however is rarely operated by a single person or a closely aligned team. Chances are that several elements or functions that are required to fulfill the competitive intelligence request do reside in different departments or even externally.
Those or similar functions might be at play:
The business: requestors, content-decision translators, protectors
The intelligence team: market researchers, analysts, strategists
The enablers: data builders, system builders, knowledge builders
With that many parties working on one or a series of similar requests you can imagine how demanding it might be to collaborate smoothly and work effectively to satisfy the decision makers information needs swiftly.
Three examples of double trouble
Starting with an inquiry that is communicated to the competitive intelligence group:
Sometimes the final decision maker asks directly
Sometimes the request comes in via a proxy
Sometimes several people ask for the same or similar insights as the competitive intelligence gap surfaced in a meeting and now everyone is eager to fill that gap, they might even ask different competitive intelligence managers at the same time
Uncertainties, waste of resources, delays.
Because busy decision makers simply dump a question onto the desk of “the CI guys - they'll figure it out”.
When it comes to using data and information that is either built or sourced you might find any of these situations unfolding when decision makers push for quick answers:
People “google” for a response or use whatever info providers access they have
Data is taken raw without further analysis or alignment with existing data
Spreadsheets are being created that do not “talk to each other”
Decisions might be based on false data and new gaps occur.
Competing data is being used that is neither automated nor double checked by the specialist who handle these data all the time and know where they have appeared in the past.
Not knowing the impact that the competitive intelligence deliverable will have, is a common and frustrating problem:
Decision makers don’t make the time for dialogue throughout which the intelligence deliverable takes shape but instead demand a complete response to a shallow, unspecific request
In the context with other decisions and discussions the evidence might support the decision making process more broadly and requires additional analysis and depth
The requestor wants to use the insights in a specific format such as a standard report or presentation that needs alignment with earlier versions or complimenting documentation
Double work, massive time delays and corrections. In a worst case: data is presented to the board who then point out misalignments. This is never a good scenario for any executive.
Because the analyst doesn’t get her questions answered that amount while developing the insight and she will likely deliver something that does not match the requestors expectations.
While market analysis and competitive insights are crucial ingredients to expensive business decisions the above three examples (among potentially many more) of uncoordinated, reactive back-and-forth makes the entire organization look unprofessional and fails to deliver swift and impactful results.
Everybody tries hard but more often than not - especially when there is pressure from the top - people behave like headless chicken.
Show what is at play…
In order to orchestrate these situations with ease and enable all parties to focus on their own part in the process everybody needs a basic understanding of that machinery and which parts play which role. Moreover: how do the actors interface, where are the handshakes and stage gates?
Since the owner of the deliverables (the team of researchers and analysts) is most eager to operate efficiently and deliver effective insights they should also lead the alignment efforts.
Part 2 → Team work in competitive intelligence →→