Building a World-class Market Intelligence Function

If you were asked to build a world-class Market Intelligence (MI) function within your organization, then, you need to understand the 6 key dimensions of a MI program and its associated elements first.

The first dimension is the Scope. It is not possible to do everything for everybody in the organization. Scope attempts to define the stakeholders – the Corporate or the individual Business Units? Which User groups you will serve – Sales, Pre-sales, Operations, Marketing, or HR? Where are your users in the organization hierarchy? What decision making powers do they have? How many companies are to be tracked and analyzed? How much detailed intelligence is required on the different companies and the topics of interest? How much focus the program should put on the anticipated future developments against an analysis of the past developments and the current market situation? A clear definition of these elements will help you say a clear ‘YES’ or ‘NO’. It will help you say ‘What you will do’ and ‘what you won’t do’.

The second dimension is the Process. The processes need to be defined for Reactive Research requests and Proactive Research inputs. The processes need to be defined for collection, analysis, documentation, and communication of information and insights. The processes need to be defined for identification of new information sources, managing relationships with existing vendors, procuring ad-hoc research reports, and dealing with the research vendors for primary research. The processes need to be defined to know the effective utilization of research output and to collect the feedback on the different projects and the MI program as a whole. While the Scope will help you address the ‘What’ question, Process will help you address the ‘How’ question.

The third dimension is the Deliverables. The deliverables can take the form of ad-hoc analysis deliverables or more standard “intelligence products”. Marketplace news and signals can be provided in the form of newsletters. They generally act as triggers for further Research and Analysis. Insights from those analyses can be provided in the form of powerpoint presentations. The competition, customer, and partner profiles should not only be developed, but also be regularly updated with the latest information. Third-party company profile reports should be procured. The MI team should do some Value addition to third party reports before delivering them to end users. The content should also emerge from Workshops and discussion forums.  High-impact presentations should be delivered in-person through Management briefings.

The fourth dimension is the IT Tools. A web-based MI tool provides access to the structured MI output. Users should receive emails alerts about the new information in the system. The content from external and internal channels should find way to the MI database. Different templates and analytical frameworks should facilitate the process of turning data into intelligence. MI end users should be able to collaborate through the MI tool.

The fifth dimension is the Organization. It refers to the Market Intelligence organization in general. How many full-time or part-time employees you have? What type of roles do these people play – Managers, analysts, information specialists? What is centralized, i.e. done by a central organization and what is decentralized, i.e. done in units close to business? Is there an internal MI network and how does it operate? Are there formal MI contact persons in the business units? How active is the co-creation of intelligence? What is outsourced? The organization dimension basically addresses the ‘Who’ question.

The sixth dimension, which is the most important and crucial, is the Culture. It is the hardest part to develop. Here you will move away from a dedicated individual or team. It becomes everybody’s job to collect, analyze, interpret, and share the market and competition information. People actively share the content with others and participate in the production of content. Top Management is involved in MI and shows their commitment to the MI team. There is an increased awareness of MI in the organization. Internal marketing and training can help increase this awareness.

One needs to work on each of the individual elements in the different dimensions in order to accomplish the objective of developing a world-class MI function.

For more information on the subject, please visit Global Intelligence Alliance (GIA) website and read the related whitepapers and case studies.

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