Business Economic Intelligence: – This article is aimed at small structures but also concerns larger business departments wishing to improve their approach to economic intelligence. It is rare that a company does not practice economic intelligence. These are often isolated actions that are put in place as the need arises, and which ultimately result in an accumulation of data not used in the future. Below this post is all about the improvement of business economic intelligence.
Economic Growth in Simple 4 Steps
Product managers usually collect technical documentation and competitors’ sales brochures, sales managers can record the prices charged by other competitors encountered during market negotiations, a quality manager can subscribe to an automated standards monitoring service of a domain…
How do we improve this? Here is a proposal for a method already successfully used in the context of an SME.
This method focuses primarily on the needs gathering parts, collecting, formatting and disseminating information from the EI cycle. The data analysis part is voluntarily not thorough because it is most often the expertise of the information requestor. Indeed, the latter is often in the best position, especially in small structures, to carry out its own analysis. On the other hand, the processing of information, i.e. the intelligible formatting of the data for a fast and efficient operation, is included in this approach.
A method that is conducted in 4 steps:
- The first step is to identify the “customers” of the day before. You cannot reasonably collect everything, analyze it for everyone. It is often more effective to start small, experience and then expand its scope of action.
- Once the target perimeter of the users has been defined, they should be met for a diagnosis. This step will make it possible to list and understand the information needs of the customers of your IE approach, and especially to identify how this information will be used. Predicting the use of data (before collecting data) is an excellent way to assess its relevance and interest. This approach also brings another added value: thinking about how information is used will help to define how the data should present itself.
- Once the needs have been clarified, priorities have to be defined. A matrix is a good tool for classifying information and getting a synthetic view. Do not forget that the biggest difficulty will be to classify the information according to criteria. This work is sometimes tedious but very rich because it forces us to dissect the possible options and thus better explore the various facets of the subject.
- Once the priorities have been defined, it will be time to devise an action plan to coordinate the implementation of the decisions taken.
Here is a proposal for an approach to clarify practices and identify areas for improvement:
- Identification of yesterday’s “Customers”
The question is to determine the potential users of the watch. This is done by making an inventory of possible users and then selecting the target users (or key functions). The latter will be the “customers” of the day before that we will call the users.
This choice will depend on a selection of criteria to be defined depending on the situation of the company. For example, by selecting key process managers for an entity with an operational excellence deficit; or by focusing on the commercial department facing great difficulties in the face of competition….
- Diagnosis of the Existing and new needs of Users:
Census of the Existing: who receives what? How often? How is the information used? What are the sources? How is the information received? How are they stored? What problems are encountered? What can be improved? What needs are not covered?
This census can be done by simple face-to-face interviews, from a maintenance guide.
Fill a synthesis grid (illustrated here by fictitious examples):
User Information / periodicity Usage Existing E, new N Source Dissemination / storage medium Problems / expectations Solution sketch
Product manager Competitor prices / at the event to help fix the selling prices of products E the sales network Email / Email – Little information from the field
- Information is often incomplete: how much for the price charged? Punctually? Annually?
- No tool to consolidate information
- Motivate sellers
- Provide a computerized tool for collecting information, organizing and disseminating it
Leader Sectoral developments / half-yearly Identify markets with a promising future E Economic websites Internet / network file – Indicators not constructed in the same way according to source
- Sources incomplete
- Locate a source of information covering all needs
Technical Director Standards / Event monitoring to anticipate an opportunity or constraint N / No organized monitoring although important – Subscribe to a paid service of watch on standards, with keyword monitoring.
- Define Priorities
Once the diagnosis is complete, the points to be worked on must be prioritized.
Different approaches are then possible. For example: to make a matrix with on one axis the strategic importance of the information and on another axis, the level of investment necessary for the implementation of the solution.
More than a synthesis tool, a matrix is also an analytical tool. Indeed, it may be necessary to go further in the qualification of the solution and thus rework this matrix. A multi-loop job works well with this kind of tool: it raises questions, raises the feasibility of certain possible solutions for a more precise arbitration.
- Design the Action Plan
The final step is the design of the action plan. When priorities are defined, action must be organized. For this, it is desirable to design an action plan. This tool usually consists of at least the following points:
- What: the actions to be done may be subdivided into micro-actions
- Who: the actors
- How: the means at their disposal
- When: Project deadlines
- How much: the budget