Can early warning systems really help you? Well, if you are going to get a kick in the groin it’s always good to see it coming. So you can get out of the way.
Everyone should have an early warning system. Because it is an excellent way to understand situations you may be facing in the future that can affect you. And then be in a strong position to do something about it – As we know from experience surprises are rarely pleasurable.
So, the first thing to do is map out your competitive environment, think about who you want to keep an eye on and who could be future competitors.
As you can’t monitor everything take each competitor in turn. Conduct an assessment of the impact they have on you and your current/future performance. — The more significant the potential situation, the higher the priority.
Then take a look at how you could quickly detect and define any changes with each target. Find people in your team who are best placed to find the information quickly. Have an understanding of the clearly defined signs.
Collate the data you find into a single source (CI software or just a spreadsheet). You will be surprised how much useful information is out there – and how many new questions need answering!
Critically, once you have looked at what they are up to you turn the data into usable intelligence using analysis. Techniques such as Competing Hypothesis or Scenario Analysis are great tools for this.
What can you do about it?
For each piece of insight, you need to decide what you are going to do about it.
For instance, if company X purchases X product, please let us know straight away. Have a handful of predefined associated actions, one of which could be of course to do nothing.
These actions should take into account the situation you find yourself in and the capabilities and resources you have to hand. For any actions taken it is important to understand how your competitor will respond. Again, making you even more prepared and perhaps unbeatable.
Pretty soon you will be in a position to be able to predict your rivals next move.
That’s why we say “Intelligence is just knowing…