Putting a premium on market research and business intelligenceBY HAZIK MOHAMED
Making critical decisions without sufficient information is a typical problem companies face. While information is unlimited, time and budgets are not. Everyday executives are subjected to making difficult decisions based on imperfect information.
However, in today’s climate, executives are far more accountable to stakeholders and they cannot afford to be wrong about major decisions that put significant assets in question, or worse, at risk.
Among typical business decisions, the most critical ones are launching a new product line, entering a new market or targeting acquisitions. Historically, companies have engaged market research to address these needs. However, for enterprises, fast moving trends require a dynamic rather than static view of the market—market intelligence rather than market research.
Business organizations vary widely in their sophistication in terms of assessing market factors. Obviously, universal constraints prevail yet the pivotal issue that arises is how much quality market information and insight is sufficient to support strategic business decisions.
Traditionally, we think of market research as the vehicle that develops and delivers information and insight to the marketing process. But traditional market research focused on consumer packaged goods industries and are handicapped in today's B2B enterprise world.
They fall short of consumer-oriented demographics linked to buyer behaviour, especially where new technology is concerned.
Market Intelligence versus Market Research
Market intelligence can be viewed as an enhanced level of market research—a broader, more inclusive view of every aspect of the marketplace with market research as an important component. From the marketing standpoint, market intelligence lends itself to strategic decision making where market research tends to provide tactical support for specific marketing goals and objectives.
Unlike snap-shot market research efforts, market intelligence develops a gallery of understanding that goes beyond mere data points but rather, into a comprehensive analysis of a specific decision or business case. Usually, market intelligence defines a series of topics to be monitored continuously as the market evolves and unfolds.
Specific processes, which only occur once or provide a static, snapshot view, may be implemented by using an ad hoc analysis. However, the very heart and soul of market intelligence is a dynamic, or an ongoing effort to better understand customers’ needs and requirements and their perceptions of your organization’s offerings and brand strength relative to those needs.
Business Intelligence - Dashboard of Insight
Business intelligence processes such as data mining complement market intelligence processes. The overall idea is to define key intelligence requirements then determine gaps to fill, seek answers to questions unavailable from internal data gathering methods, and provide these advantages:
- A planning cycle fed with actionable knowledge
- Top-down value of marketing insights derived from the process
- A cultural shift to an organization that truly “listens”
- A focus on insight and market trends that allow you to be more responsive
- A marketing strategy reliant on actual intelligence, not speculation
- Measurable outcomes that help sell the resulting strategy to other stakeholders
- Increased confidence in decision making
This intelligence “dashboard” for viewing market variables in a dynamic environment supports the benefit of being able to easily access data and analyses across the organization at any time. Also, different organisations usually embody unique corporate values, and that offers an opportunity for specialised and customised solutions.
After all, a company does not want to imitate its competitors' strategies and be only just as good; it wants to be differentiated, and be able to perform better.
Market intelligence is simple in concept but powerful in effect - it helps enterprises keep a leg up on the competition. At its base level, market intelligence encompasses data collection, analyses through analytical tools, and the discipline to integrate resulting knowledge gained into the planning cycle.
At the best practice level, it builds a corporate culture that generates unbiased and honest assessments of customer perceptions, competitive offerings, and up-to-date market trends. These allow for actionable insights that drive critical business decisions and bolster the firm’s competitive edge.