| 4 min
Whether your competitor rolled out a new product that has you reeling, or partnered with another company that changes the market and your place within it, getting surprised by high-stake competitor deals and developments is harmful to the company and can be harmful to you if it was in your scope to be monitoring competitor activity.
Whatever the reason is for it, the surprise has occurred. Now what? You need to get the situation under control quickly, mitigate the damage and make a plan for the future so you and your company are not caught off guard again.
You need to do some risk containment and control as soon as possible to mitigate the damages that a surprise competitor development had on your business. The stakes may vary, but being surprised by big competitor activity has a negative impact on business and leaves you playing catch up to save the company's standing in the market and your reputation.
Quick and effective action is necessary. Begin by determining which information is highest, middle and lowest priority and delegate the highest priority task to your team. Reducing the fallout of unexpected competitor developments requires that you not withhold resources. Unfortunately the productivity of your team will have to be derailed until you get back on track.
To move forward and make sure you're not surprised again, you need to take stock of where you are. Why did you miss this vital information? What occurred that put your company at a disadvantage and what are you going to do about it next time? Competitor surprises need to be prevented at all costs in order to reduce risk of market upsets that negatively influence your company. For example, when Whole Foods announced a partnership with Amazon, the German grocery store Lidl was rolling out locations in the U.S and this competitor development had a large negative impact on their initiative. It took Lidl a long time to return to their place ahead of the curve. This example is high stakes, but also near-term. When you're trying to forecast longer-term competitor information it is a safe bet to assume your competitors are thinking like you and could be adopting similar strategies.
How do you start to realign your competitive strategy? First you need to take the information you found in your contingency plan and use it to inform your future decisions. Use those questions about your competitors that you needed to find in order to create a landscape of understanding. Get a clear picture again of the market. Moving forward, take that landscape and find the points that are of most interest to you and your company in its future. You'll need to find or allocate resources to the regular monitoring of this competitor information and work it into your overall business strategy to avoid surprises in the future.
These types of resources might include a division of your team that maintains an outward-facing focus, but in some cases, facing outward can be tedious — such as when the market is not changing. Therefore, these divisions are often deemed cost ineffective when viewed from the vantage point of the overall company budget, and cut quickly. A more modern and valuable way to achieve sound, cost effective and long-term competitive intelligence strategies is to find an extension of your business and team through competitive intelligence software and consulting.
A software that can act as the radar system for competitor developments will allow your team to continue providing value to your company in other ways. And a team of strategy consultants can assist your perspective with outside and expert insights, so you don't miss out again.
Derek Heiss is the Director of Cipher’s Consulting Practice and is specialized in competitive intelligence and market strategy consulting. Cipher is a consulting and technology firm, based in Annapolis, with a 20+ year track record of delivering solutions to the Fortune 500 and Global 1,000.