Over two hundred professionals in Competitive & Market Intelligence, and other related fields, gathered in Dublin’s Burlington hotel for the 17th Annual SCIP European summit, from November 6th-8th. They came from all over Europe and further afield – from Chicago to China, Bahrain and Tunisia. As cities go, it’s hard to find a better location than Dublin for a business event that incorporates such a strong social element.
Before we packed up our exhibitor booth yesterday and started contemplating another evening’s entertainment in Dublin, we put together five key takeaways from the event. We got to as many sessions as we could during the two days but we couldn’t take in everything, so this is just a snapshot. You can share your key take-aways in the comments’ section below.
1. Turn Mega Trends into Mega Opportunities
In the opening session on Wednesday morning, Dorman Followwill from Frost & Sullivan outlined ten of the top mega trends of the future. Some of these trends are already shaping and impacting various industries, as we discovered during the interactive group session. These mega trends were described as “economic forces of development that impact business, economy, society, cultures and professional lives.”
Some of the mega trends identified:
- Urbanization and the emergence of Mega Cities
- Smart technology
- Geo Socialization
- The impact of Gen Y on workplace culture/consumer spending habits etc
- Increased connectivity and convergence
- Online retail spending versus offline retail spending
- Emerging markets are more than just the BRICs.
2. Build a CI Fan base
Kristin Murphy from SAS Institute spoke about the importance of building an internal Competitive intelligence fan base across a diverse range of functions. She advised participants to build a network of personal contacts who will provide support, feedback, insight, resources and information. It’s also crucial to reach out to new employees to foster that important working relationship from the beginning and to build trust by listening to their perspectives.
Your credibility as a CI professional comes from these 4 things: character, capabilities, commitment and proven results. Ask yourself the following questions: ‘What value do I, my team and my department bring to the broader organization?’ Do the people in your network understand the value you bring? And perhaps more importantly, would they be able to explain that value to others?
Remember that when building a fan base you need to have grassroots support as well as executive sponsorship. So start by reaching out and engaging with your internal customers and don’t forget to constantly nurture those relationships. Successful Competitive Intelligence is based on a simple value exchange. You get what you want by helping others get what they want. Kristen’s overriding message was a simple but powerful one: “Competitive intelligence can have greater impact by growing from an operational function to becoming a common cause that connects people together.”
3. Persist (in advocating for change) or Die
On Thursday morning we heard from Gordon Murray-Smith, formerly the head of CI at Nokia. He began his presentation by explaining Nokia’s rise to a seemingly unassailable position in the mobile telecoms market. The company established and held its leadership position for 14 years. He then explained when and why their success story unravelled. Complacency, rigidity of mindset and not a lack of insight or early warning signals sealed Nokia’s fate. Too many years at the top rendered the company unable or unwilling to contemplate a shift in strategy. Nokia struggled to adapt to its new market position because it had lost the relentless mindset that comes with being a market challenger.
Key Lessons: CI needs to achieve more power and influence at senior-executive level. CI teams need to be persistent in advocating for change, when the future success of the company depends on it.
4. Automate information extraction
Adam Kowalik, Head of Strategic Market Intelligence, at Ernst & Young Poland shared his findings on the lessons learnt from improving Strategic Market intelligence. He described how the CI process works at E&Y and made some key recommendations from his own experience of leading a team of intelligence professionals.
Below are some of the key take-aways from his presentation:
- Automatic information extraction and effective filtering drastically reduces time spent extracting information from the info-fog.
- Constantly updated, detailed knowledge on available sources is crucial for success.
- Check reliability of sources – What is the content? Is the content full or limited? Who provides the content? Is it up to date?
- Separate collection from analysis. Analysis should be assigned to senior practitioners.
5. Use Competitive Intelligence as a Magnet
On Wednesday afternoon Edwin Vlems from MCB Netherlands delivered an interesting presentation on “How to use Your CI as a Magnet for Customers” by following the example of inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is a strategy that focuses on gaining customers by making it easier for them to find you. To help with this, MCB began by making all their research information accessible on the web which is then picked up and re-published by other websites, increasing their digital footprint.
He also stressed the importance of delivering frequent, high-quality emails to customers based on sector specific content. By sending daily emails to customers he ensures that the CI team remains top of mind. In addition, the quality of the CI content triggers inbound queries and has increased subscriptions and loyalty. By marketing the capabilities of the team through a regular flow of ‘info snacks’ on free tools such as Twitter, Paper.li and RSS feeds he has increased awareness of MCB and has helped to build a reputation for the company as an opinion leader and a reliable source of information.