Article: A Competitive Intelligence Note to a CEO

Tom HawesIn below article Tom Hawes quite clearly explains how Competitive Intelligence can help a CEO tackle one of his many concerns in his organization. CI is one of the many inputs to help the CEO (or any other decision maker for that matter) make the right decisions. I really think he touches five important areas of interest when you are a CEO or (high level) decision maker in the process of considering any level of Competitive Intelligence activities. Therefore, I would like to quote his five ways ‘Competitive Intelligence can help you to organize your external perspectives and align your team to compete better’.

Monitor the environment. The competitive environment is not static. Known competitors are adapting their strategies. Potentially disruptive companies are emerging. Other standards, social, demographic, technology and regulatory trends affect all of the actors. Usually, understanding the future better gives you more confidence to prepare more effectively. Competitive Intelligence systematically monitors market dynamics, significant trends and likely competitors’ responses to frame your strategic options better.

Establish priorities. You have to get this part right because you cannot frequently change priorities. Of course, many factors affect priorities including knowing the market niches you want to protect and those that you want to attack. Especially when attacking, it is important to know where you need to improve your products, processes or resources. With that knowledge, you can hold someone accountable for the required improvements. Competitive Intelligence supports gaps analysis and closure processes to make sure that the organization is constantly working to overcome important disadvantages.

Make decisions. Your decision-making is often complex. Where others might see or wish for simplicity, you have deal with a myriad of factors. Your position requires you to make the difficult decisions that affect many people. Thus, organizing frameworks, models and scorecards become essential tools for you. Sorting through issues to find what is most important while deemphasizing the less important is a constant duty for you. Competitive Intelligence provides regularly evaluated market and competitor information and models that highlight critical issues to inform your decision-making.

Motivate the organization. In competition, it is often best to identify the competitors and the specific challenges that they pose. Properly framed, you can use this information to explain your strategies within your company. Furthermore, you can set competition-based metrics to serve as performance goals. Tangible competitive threats helps link your strategic goals and tactical or operational mindsets of the rest of the organization. Competitive Intelligence helps you to explain competitors better by documenting their strategies, product plans, customer targets and more in specific ways that leads to concrete actions throughout your organization.

Evaluate strategies. You and your team have set the strategic direction for the company. Regularly, you convene meetings to talk about the progress. Are the strategies working? Are the competitors doing what we expected? Has something about our significant assumptions materially changed? How is each part of the organization functioning to beat the competition? There are multiple important metrics. One of those is how your competition reacts (or does not react) to what you are doing. Competitive Intelligence supports scenarios planning, strategy forecasting and competitor strategy reports by maintaining industry models and competitor profiles.

Of course this is not an attempted ‘how to do CI’. It shows us what Competitive Intelligence, if executed properly, could do to help a CEO in the process of making decisions regarding the competitive environment, not how. Having said that, I think the only logical conclusion is: íf CI can really help you do all those things, no CEO can do without it! Now all we have to do is convince them CI can do all that.

A Competitive Intelligence Note to a CEO – by Tom Hawes

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