So how does one develop a true market intelligence capability? It would take much more than the space in this blog to address this question. At a very high level, it involves:
• Having a vision for your market intelligence function. Do you want it to be world-class? What do you want your market intelligence function to excel in? How would you define success for your market intelligence team?
• Obtaining buy-in from your market intelligence team for your vision. This requires a clear articulation of what you are trying to accomplish, providing the team the opportunity to talk about the vision and to actually impact what the final vision is. Working as a team to craft a mission statement that clearly articulates the vision.
• Mapping your vision to a set of core competencies required to fulfill your vision. Identify the competencies that are unique and which represent significant added value by your team. Perform an audit of your market intelligence function in order to ensure your vision maps to your client’s needs, and to identify gaps between your market intelligence vision and your team’s current capabilities and deliverables. Build a plan to address and fill in the gaps, keeping in mind that this doesn’t happen overnight - it can easily be a two-to-three-year process.
• Increasing the focus on building your core market intelligence competencies by outsourcing those elements (i.e., competitive product cost tear-downs, etc.) which are not essential to the core. A great example of this is to utilize outside vendors and information distribution technologies to outsource the collection, summary and dissemination of market news data (competitor price changes, promotional activities, etc.). Another example is to use outside marketing research vendors for all non-core aspects of marketing research projects (including sourcing, fielding, project management, and basic statistical and crosstabular analysis). Then your analysts can focus on structuring the initial research project based on their understanding of the business need, and then identifying what the research results mean in the context of the business issues and decisions at hand.
• Creating a process that bridges functional groups to capture information from many different business areas to provide the information foundation for a complete market intelligence picture.
• Ensuring the market intelligence staff has a consulting versus a project management focus (which of course, has implications for the skill sets of your market intelligence staff). This includes measuring the results of decisions made based upon your market intelligence and then fine-tuning future work in order to drive better results.
• Obtaining the mandate of and access to your executive team in order to integrate the results of market intelligence analysis into the business decision-making process, and to capture the feedback, which will drive future market intelligence inquiries and analysis.
Of course, this is much easier said than done. However, with the rigorous application of market intelligence discipline, techniques and principles, you can create a true market intelligence organization that will not only be an integral part of your business decision-making process, but which will also play a key role in shaping your firm’s strategic direction.