Market Intelligence can address a wide range of business problems, such as improving a company’s marketing strategy during a period of changing or intensifying competition, setting a more effective pricing strategy, or determining whether to expand into new markets. The information available to companies to help solve any given business problem is often uncoordinated and unsystematic. As a result, companies suffer from unreliable, incomplete, and often contradictory information when assessing these business problems.
“There is nothing more necessary than good intelligence to frustrate a designing enemy and nothing requires greater pains to obtain.”
— George Washington
What is Market Intelligence?
At the very core, a market intel is an external understanding that was not previously possessed. The purpose of market intelligence is to generate insight, new understanding, and implications to support strategy choice and action. Insights help a business create a common understanding of both current and likely future competitive situations and provide early warning of market threats and opportunities.
The ultimate goal of market intelligence is to inform decision making and action. In addition to an understanding of the external operating environment, strategic action necessitates a deep understanding of an organization’s internal strategy to determine competitive context and opportunities. It is this combined, internal and external view that enables insight to outwit and outmaneuver your competition
“What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know, it’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”
— Mark Twain
How are Insights Developed?
Market insights are developed through a process of data collection, synthesis, and analysis. Analytic methodologies and frameworks are often used for organizing, evaluating, and interpreting information. These tools focus on data gathering and analysis, and while they make it easier to spot trends and structure thinking, in and of themselves, they do NOT generate insights. The steps for developing insights include:
- Determine and articulate the business issue
- Human and published, internal and external information collection and synthesis
- Data analysis to identify insights – trends, patterns, and discontinuities
- Identification of implication through discussion of insights in context of the business strategy, current position, and capabilities
- Create the story and communicate to generate action
Business issues will vary depending on your unique market dynamics; e.g. speed of change, consolidation, level of disruption, new entrants, shifting consumer demands, new technology/product offerings, etc. Critical business issues are often overlooked as an organization’s focus too frequently rests on more tactical questions such as looking for details behind the latest news headline or competitor announcement. While perhaps nice to know, those tactical questions don’t provide the level of actionable insights that can be gained from identifying an underlying business issue. Understanding the root of the intelligence need is one of the first and most critical steps to developing actionable insights.
“Communications without intelligence is noise; intelligence without communications is irrelevant.”
— Gen. Alfred Gray
What is the Value of Market Intelligence?
First and foremost, market intelligence provides a business with a common and informed understanding of both its current and likely future competitive marketplace. Having this basis of common understanding creates a heightened level of market acumen across an organization, aiding it to foster strategies to out-think and out-perform competitors. Market intelligence informs decision making and action.
Additionally, having an improved understanding of your business’ operating environment also heightens awareness of and protection of your own proprietary information assets. This resulting counterintelligence mindset helps an organization in the discovery and ability to neutralize competitors’ intelligence activities.
“The greatest derangement of mind is to believe in something because one wishes it to be so.”
— Louis Pasteur
Implications for Businesses
While every business needs market insight, businesses often struggle to commit the resources, time, and ongoing investment necessary to build a comprehensive market intelligence program. The developmental process for starting up an internal intelligence program averages 1-2 years; it takes another 3-4 years before that program is fully optimized and truly part of a company’s culture.
Intelligence is an investment, its expensive. That doesn’t mean; however, that it’s out of reach for any businesses. Creating internal networks or virtual teams to track and benchmark critical metrics for your business is a good place to start. Identification of 1-3 critical business issues the network can work to address, with or without the support of external consulting services, can provide a foundation from which to build improved information collection, sharing and insight across an organization.
“If you think intelligence is expensive, try ignorance.”
— David Jimenez
Want to learn more about how market intelligence could directly impact your company’s ability to generate insights and inform decision making? Contact an expert at &Marketing for a free consultation.
In today’s fast paced world, many growing businesses are struggling to modernize their marketing approaches because either they don’t have the expertise or the bandwidth to do it themselves.
&Marketing provides seasoned marketing strategy professionals and a nimble execution team to help our clients achieve their goals. Our unique partnership model allows us to augment our client’s existing teams or outsource the entire marketing function in an affordable, flexible, and transparent way.