As a CI professional at Shell in the past, I am now often asked what is meant by Competitive Intelligence and how do you apply it for your business. There are numerous frameworks and models that are useful, however, I am going to point you to a number of key questions, the answers to which will significantly advance your CI activities. Why? If you don’t know as your competition how are you going to beat them and stand out from the crowd?
1. Who are my competitors and how am I different? This requires some research and some reflection. Finding the answers will ensure you stand out from the competition, offering more benefits, better services and customer care, all of which will support your marketing to win more clients.
2. What are my competitors doing and how will they react to my strategy? Keeping a watching brief on your competitors’ activities will keep you ahead of the game in continuing to answer the questions in 1. They will also help you to develop your responsive strategy. In a similar way, do expect your competitors to respond to your strategy. What opportunities or threats will their reactions and responses highlight?
3. How will I know and what can I do? What “triggers” can I put in the marketplace that will alert me to their activities and an increase in risk to my business? What actions can I take that will manage potential risks. Pre-thinking and planning will allow you to respond swiftly and effectively. With the speed of change in today’s environment, it will be the fast-movers who reap the highest rewards.
So, do you know who your competitors are, how they behave and how you will know? Do you have a competitive strategy in place? I await your views.
And click for the audio
Last Week. I have been travelling to London for 3 out of 5 days this week. Almost like old times. On Monday, I ran a client workshop which again demonstrated that commitment may sometimes be more difficult if it also requires behavioural change. On Tuesday I had a fascinating morning with Marriot International, followed by the WEConnect Europe conference in London. This organisation focuses on supplier diversity and introduces women-owned businesses to corporate organisations. You have to qualify and get certified but it is a worthwhile endeavour. It is interesting to see that although great work is being carried out about diversity in the workforce, further inroads into the supply chain is an additional challenge. On Thursday I attended the CIPD seminar on Change Management just to keep up my professional knowledge in this field. Friday is catch up day. Then I was delighted to confirm two further hostings of Highflyingdivas. The first for an evening event on the 20th October in Essex by CECs and the second on the 15th November in London by The Home Office.
Reading for the Week. Ciaran Walsh has written a booked called “How Companies Really Grow”. It is both an instructive and enjoyable read. For example, Ciaran points out the potential risk of vision setting turning into group think. The book plots the stages of business growth with priorities for the business owner and advisors in each stage. It is based on research and his own extensive experience.
Lighter Reflections. It was both interesting and amusing to notice the changes and familiar aspects of commuting this week. The fight for a seat, commuters pretending to sleep when asked for a seat by a pregnant lady, mp3 players sounding more like megaphones than personal stereos. Differences included the “Harry Potter-like advertising posters on the underground, with their characters moving around in their little screens. Canary Wharf looks more akin to a business park in the Far East than a development just off Stratford and is decorated with New York- style women striding around in white trainers. Why discrete flat shoes are not acceptable I don’t know, unless it’s in preparation for the mad dash onto the trains for those precious seats. Finally, the train announcement of “It is not permitted to skate-board or roller-blade on the platform”. Never in all my history have I seen anyone doing this – have you? When I get home, I am reminded of my husband’s gripe of “Why is it you go out looking like a vision (well I’m not going to argue) and then, as soon as you return home, its make-up off and baggy track suit on. Or, even worse, post 9.00 p.m. its straight into pyjamas?” Of course I did miss my son’s calls and texts from Boarding School. You may think it’s because he is homesick but his missives have been questions such as “What’s my inside leg measurement?” and yesterday’s call was “Where’s my toothpaste?”. He has been there 10 days. James replied with “It’s in your black wash bag”. We are now waiting for another text which asks where the washbag might be. The wash-bag contains his shampoo, shower-gel, hairbrush and deodorant. Yes we do have a boy and no I’m now not so sure I’m looking forward to collecting him tomorrow!
Future Forum Dates:
September: Highflyingdivas, a.m. Colchester, 27th hosted by LEPRA Health in Action