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Strategy Software Solves A Basic Competitive Need

Software Business Magazine

Check out both articles!  After 2500 Years, It's Time to Get Serious About Tracking Competitors

Strategy Software, Inc., is a privately held company founded by George Durtler. As CEO and general manager at several technology companies in the past, he was continually frustrated by the lack of current and useful competitor information (general stats, products, key people, relationships, capabilities, etc.) that he could apply to strategic and tactical decisions. Knowing that others would also see the value, he created STRATEGY!--an affordable, off-the-shelf database tool specifically designed to create organized and insightful competitor information reports.

Today Strategy Software provides this practical database solution to Fortune 500 companies, small business and other organizations from telecommunications, industrial manufacturing, dot coms,  electric utilities, consulting firms, universities, health care, governments, insurance, research corporations, travel agencies, journalists and more.

The layout of STRATEGY! is drawn from the work of Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School Professor and world-renowned expert in competitive strategy. That way, even if a person is new to competitive analysis, with confidence she can immediately begin adding competitor information to STRATEGY! using the easy-to-understand format and produce useful reports in less than an hour.

The software offers over 150 standard reports, including general company information, products by category, product spec matrixes, key people, strength and weakness comparisons, market size, market share, etc. Custom reports can be created and data fields are easily customized to fit your industry's terminology and structure.

STRATEGY! reports can be printed, e-mailed, exported in HTML, or copied to applications such as Access, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc. Strategy Software also provides a web-enabled reporting system called the STRATEGY! Competitor Assessment Network (SCAN) so employees in any location have round-the-clock access to current information regarding competitors products, weaknesses and more.

Using this structured database, a company can monitor, compare, report and evaluate anything they determine is critical to success. STRATEGY! creates the perfect foundation for analyzing your competitive situation because it focuses your efforts on just facts that are directly relevant to your company's goals.

For more information, go to http://www.strategysoftware.com/ or call 1-509-321-0314.
Check out both articles!  Strategy Software Solves A Basic Competitive Need

After 2500 Years, It's Time to Get Serious About Tracking Competitors

Software Business Magazine
September 2000

By George Durtler

Around 500 B.C. Sun Tzu advised know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you want to win-- battles, sports or business --history shows the importance of understanding your competition. Images of Oracle digging through Microsoft's garbage is fresh evidence (so to speak) of the lengths that some will go to outsmart competition.

We're not talking espionage

It's the product manager who knows which companies offer competing products. It's the CEO who watches which executives are hired where so she can get a sense of likely strategic direction. It's every business person who listens intently to overhear the latest rumor about a competitor. We all watch our competitors.

Let's look at the dynamics of the software market to understand why this is a hot issue, then explore appropriate ways to get information, and finally how to get tactical and strategic value from competitor information.

No business can afford to waste time, money or knowledge. That's why AT&T Wireless, Lexis-Nexis, NFO Research, Leitch Technologies, Siemens, Internet Financial Network, Bausch & Lomb, Westinghouse, KPMG, Digitalwork.com, Ants.com, Corning Glass, DBT Online and many others are using tracking systems like STRATEGY! to deliberately understand their competitors. They use the results for better strategic decision-making, improving competitive product awareness, increasing sales, and more.

The competitive field for software goes well beyond obvious giants and dot coms. Hardware companies routinely develop software to run their own complex products. The average car has more computing power than the original Defense Department computers.

The pace of product deployment is incredible. Strategic relationships increase the possibility for forward or backward integration, transforming today's supplier into tomorrow's competitor. It doesn't take much for a wily entrepreneur to find an interesting product and run with it (Check out this cool feature! Let's do that too! ). Combine the ability for rapid application development with creative marketing, and you may have new competitors tomorrow eroding your market share and profits.

Mix in the internet

It has changed the pace and nature of competition: the barrier to entry is lower; more business-related information is available; and, there is a greater acceptance among the bricks and mortar businesses for using technology in general.

So how should you gather competitor information? Marketing materials, websites, newspapers, SEC filings, hiring consultants, or just ask your competitors directly. As long as you state your company name, nothing prevents you from asking for specific information. If they hand it over, you have done nothing wrong.

Most companies give out too much information.

Do your own employees know what is proprietary and would they know not to give it to a competitor? Protect your important information about strategies, product specs, capabilities and more.

What is unethical or illegal? Having an employee call a competitor and misrepresent herself to get data. Stealing sections of code. Decompiling software. Violating copyrights. Removing things from private property without permission. For more guidelines, check www.scip.org.

To make it worth the effort there must be bottom-line value, but understanding the competitive market isn't simple. Using products such as STRATEGY!, companies can break down the information into understandable pieces that have practical use. That's why even information giant Lexis-Nexis uses STRATEGY! software to organize, summarize and report targeted information on their competitors.

Use information to answer questions

Which company would make the best strategic partner? Which markets are saturated or hold opportunities? Which product specs are unique? What aspects of our product should we play up, in comparison to competitors, based on detailed specs that we know are important to our target customers?

Get tactical

Tools like these are a great resource in the sales cycle is developing bids. Every time a bid is offered that never had a good chance of winning in the first place, it's wasted money. Understand your competitor's products and target markets to know where you have the best chance of winning sales. An example: A company has 100 sales people selling software for $5,000 and the cost of pursuing a prospect to the point of bid development is $400. If sales people cut out just one bid per month for prospects they know they can't possibly win, the company reduces costs by $40,000 per month. Better yet, if each sales person makes one additional sale that year because they can now compare products spec by spec, the company generates $500,000 in new revenue.

Marketing and Engineering join forces

Development staff can take comparative information to improve products. With advance information about new features from competition, there's time to position against it or develop alliances.

Many companies give out competitor and product information once a year in lengthy reports that quickly go out-of-date. In contrast, using a web-enabled reporting system like Strategy Software's SCAN, companies can arm staff with round-the-clock access to summary reports on competitor's products, weaknesses and more. Imagine the approach of a sales person who has the latest detailed list of comparative product specs and can pinpoint exactly where his product is stronger. That's a winning sales person.

Strategic payoffs also come from knowing when and where to erect barriers to entry. Patent application volumes are booming, fueled by the need to protect competitive territory. Amazon.com protected their one click system. British Telecommunications has a patent on the hyperlink and is suing major ISPs for royalties. If you don't deliberately track competitors, how would you know when your intellectual property has been co-opted?

A Strategy Software customer said our company has been so good for so long that we haven't had competitors until the last few years. We have to look at what our competitors are doing and how that affects our company. Today, if you don't start paying attention to the competition, you're going to get beaten. J Sun Tzu couldn't have said it better.

A truly international person, George Durtler's career spans Europe, Canada and the United States. As President of Strategy Software, George created a solution to a universal problem: giving companies the ability to create a practical picture of their specific competitive environment, to help with corporate strategy, marketing, sales, government relations and other critical functions. Contact Strategy Software at 509-321-0134 or