Introduction (Toni Wilson – Chair, SLA CI Division)
Analysis turns information into intelligence. So, it is a treat to hear from an expert on competitive analysis – Dr. Craig Fleisher – in today’s blog entry. Dr. Fleisher provides a summary of some of the analytical tools that information professionals responsible for CI tasks can use to create actionable intelligence, adding value to the decision-making process and making our organizations future-ready.
by Dr. Craig S. Fleisher
Competitive intelligence (CI) has always been a key tool in the organizational future readiness tool-kit. By its very nature, intelligence is forward looking and helps organizations take actions today in often complex, fast-moving and uncertain environments that will better position them for the future. To illustrate this point, I’ll identify a few analytical tools I have written about in my books [i] that are part of the essential CI tool kit.
Driving forces analysis (DFA) is a way of understanding and accounting for possible change at the industry level. “Drivers” are clusters of trends that create influences on changes to an industry’s structure and a rival’s competitive conduct. CI practitioners use this tool to better understand how attractive or profitable their industries may be at a designated future point.
Growth vector analysis (GVA) helps the practitioner review the different product alternatives available to an organization in relation to its market options. By undertaking a systematic evaluation of the market, competitive conditions and market growth opportunities can be identified and understood. GVA is one of the first steps in the process of targeting profitable growth opportunities. This tool organizes the myriad of growth opportunities into a manageable framework.
Various forms of life cycle analysis, focused for example on targets like issues, organizations, patents, products or technology (for example), help the practitioner to understand how the focal element will ordinarily evolve. By understanding the ordinary evolution of the item, the practitioner can better gauge tactics and strategies to leverage actions to extend an item in its growth stages, or to identify the best time to develop new products or services when the present ones require replacement.
Scenario planning and analysis is a structured way of developing multiple scenarios that compensate for two common decision-making errors, namely under- and over- prediction of change. Through a disciplined yet creative approach, scenario analysis is a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis that imagines many possible futures of environmental change, reduces these many scenarios to a manageable number of possibilities, incorporates sensitivity analysis to determine dependent variable relationships, and isolates trends and patterns to counteract blind-spots in strategic decision making. It provides a framework to couch future decisions around the strategic posture of an organization in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Information professionals that understand the application of these analytical tools can enhance organizational future readiness efforts. The use of each of these tools requires specific types of data and informational inputs. I can think of no other professionals in today’s organizations that can acquire these informational inputs as proficiently special librarians. You are needed by planners, marketers, strategists and decision makers, among others, to help your organizations succeed in the future. Knowing how these future-focused CI tools are employed is just another way that your contribution can make a significant difference!
Dr. Fleisher is the Chief Learning Officer of Aurora WDC, Madison, Wisconsin. A former business school dean, MBA director and university research chair, he has authored 10+ books, been President of SCIP (Strategic & Competitive Intelligence Professionals), editor of the Journal of Competitive intelligence and Management, and was awarded SCIP’s Meritorious and Fellow recognitions for his contributions to the field of Competitive Intelligence.
[i] Business and Competitive Analysis: Effective Application of New and Classic Methods (w/ B. Bensoussan), Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press, 2007. Strategic and Competitive Analysis: Methods and Techniques for Analyzing Business Competition (w/ B. Bensoussan), Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003.