4 Minute Read

It’s about so much more than “the data”

Gone are the days when a competitor analysis project consisted simply of casting your net into a sea of data and reporting the shells you gathered. 

Alex Hunt, CEO of PRS IN VIVO (a BVA Group company), points out in 2020,

“Clients will expect the insights and intelligence that drive their growth outcomes be delivered at the speed of business decision-making. Insights functions and partners will be expected to transcend delivery of project-based research outputs, and instead build business outcomes sourced from across holistic and interconnected data-sets.”

The increasing complexity of data will require more from marketing, strategy and insights teams. Both internal and external clients will need help making sense of the data. 

“The unforeseen consequence of abundance,” says Mike Stevens of Insight Platforms, will demand insight teams struggling to reconcile conflicting customer signals (sales data, digital traffic, surveys, panels etc.) turn to “storytelling” to share the customers’ experience and educate the client. (Read more.) 

Andy Reid, CEO & Founder of Rival Technologies (not the coach of the Super Bowl bound Kansas City Chiefs) thinks storytelling will go a step further. He believes “research teams will embrace the use of video for storytelling to create customer empathy and drive virality of insights within their organization.”

Reid predicts the need for investments in technologies that allow a company to capture customer videos at scale. “While C-level execs are certainly interested in numbers, there’s nothing quite like seeing the faces of your customers.”  

The continued complexity and expanding number of data sources will move some organizations towards the integration of technology platforms.

“It may well be that knowledge management systems lead the way with clients wanting all their data and reports in one place, easily accessible from anywhere by anyone.” – Steve Phillips, CEO, Zappi

Data Collection, Knowledge Management and Analysis in One Platform

 These new platforms will natively incorporate both qualitative and quantitative capabilities. “The familiarity and convenience of a single platform supporting both is compelling,” says Craig Stevens, Co-Founder, UBMobile. “Clients will expect a DIY interface that is easy to use, but also the ‘do-it-for-me’ service when needed.”

Remain agile in your approach and now, with your resources

It is the flexibility needed in 2020 that leads me to the second issue keeping me up at night.

We have moved from a time when steady change was the norm, to a time when “a state of constant disruption is the new normal.”  Brad Marsh, CEO, Consensus Point sees that companies must identify indicators and accurately predict the impact of disruption earlier than ever to gain competitive advantages and discover opportunities. 

Our new normal will consist of constant disruption, the source of a client’s need to adjust a scope, timeline or deliverable. Success will come with agility, going beyond delivering the same research or analytics faster and cheaper. This level of agility will be about how “new emerging technologies are being smartly leveraged to deliver high and disrupting time and cost barriers at the same time.” Pranesh Misra, Chairman & Managing Director, Brandscapes Worldwide.

Agility will be the name of the game with internal resources as well. Market and competitive intelligence teams would be wise to consider how to improve and expand services without adding headcount.

Today’s hyper-competitive markets, combined with the continued push for growth, will drive companies to embrace a “Mission Based” Community of Practice CI model. - Rick Marchetti, AVP Strategic Research, The Hartford

As job positions, markets and service offerings all become more specialized, CI teams will recognize the need to harness the power of employee collaboration to provide early warning/insights on competitor actions in support of key decisions and strategic actions. Leveraging SMEs from within the organization will bring together cross functional business expertise for a common purpose.

Mission Based Community of Practice Competitive Intelligence Model

Success with this five-step model requires support from senior leadership, a single point person to manage the process, identifying employees with subject matter expertise from various disciplines, an understanding of the intelligence topics that present threats/opportunities and, lastly, deliverables that provide your organization with implications and incite action.

Some organizations will continue to leverage outside partnership to supplement their work just as many will rely solely on internal resources. The challenges we face will give birth to a new model - the “Do It Together” model.

As market researchers look to leverage automation without being locked into the restrictive methodologies of pure DIY tools, some believe a new type of managed research-as-a-service firm will emerge. 

A Do-it-together model firm will combine “research consulting and survey design and analysis skills with the use of technology tools that deliver significant cost and time benefits.” Fred Barber, CEO, Response:AI believes “this approach could serve to significantly grow the pie of market research utilization where time, budget and lack of know how has previously caused companies to forgo market research.” 

As I lay awake staring at the ceiling, I challenge myself to identify the “Uncommon Partnership” looking right at me - the relationship that reveals itself only as paradigms continue to shift. 

Lenny Murphy at GreenBook suggests we, “Look for organizations that were competitors or shared adjacent functions to identify that magical ‘1+1=3’ formula to drive growth or create breakthrough solutions.” 

Partnering with a one-time competitor is an excellent example of the mindset shift required to navigate the future.  

Today you’re a growth expert, align with your business

CI professionals will grow in their role as consultants, educators and collaborators across the organization. They will refine being resource-savvy; combining lean, in-house research with thorough deep dives as required. - Zoe Dowling​, SVP Research, FocusVision

Whether you are implementing a new quarterly market intelligence report intended for your C-suite and Board of Directors, or building a strategy team comprised of department leaders and a research team to focus on developing recommendations based on identified trends, you must remain relevant to have a sustainable future.

When informing your strategic planning team, be inclusive. When sharing competitor growth and profitability or key market insights, include your insights and the impact or opportunities created for your organization. Develop strategies and market trends leveraging the STEEP framework. You can also use this framework to share relevant takeaways from conferences attended throughout the year.STEEP Framework for Market Intelligence It is incumbent upon intelligence leaders to ensure that they are in-sync with the needs of their business. Jen Evert, Research Information Manager at American Financial Group shares,

“We need to ensure that we’re always working and talking with leadership within the organization. We often get bogged down sitting in front of our computers cranking through content but talking to people internally and building strategic networks can help provide insights to your work that will set you apart.” 

Above our ability to see the need to deliver more than data, or our understanding for the need to remain agile as we partner with the business is a commitment. Our commitment that all the intelligence we gather, (market or competitor) and all the analysis and insights we produce will be accessible to everyone in the organization. Digitizing our work and openly sharing intelligence across the enterprises is the only way to successfully compete and win. Teams that adopt this belief and execute will take on the position of an invaluable partners and key resource. Teams that continue to limit access to their intel either purposely or because their company’s data exists in silos, will be viewed as backwards and irrelevant and cease to continue.