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Review of STRATEGY! ®

Competitive Intelligence Review (Journal of Knowledge Management & Insight)
Volume 10, Number 4

by John McGonagle

This software is a delight to review.  Essentially, it is a software designers response to those CI professionals who wish to be able to apply Porter's five forces model in their work.  That structure has already resulted in the software's adoption in some MBA programs, providing students with a computer-based tool on which to gather, separate, and master competitive strategy issues.

STRATEGY!'s vision is to allow users to be able to add information, classify it, provide easy links to review the sources, as well as organize and then present it.  It includes many nice features, indicating a thoughtful approach ñ such as having help systems which do not require you to open and then scroll an index when you need help at a particular point in the program.

Its power lies in the fact that it helps drive the collection and organization of raw data on all of the Porter Five Forces to help, if not force, effective analysis.  In reviewing this, as with all software, I approached it as the average new user might.  Because this software is designed to support an ongoing CI effort, with multiple readers, contributors, etc., the manufacturer takes new users through a tutorial.

From the very beginning, I found that the interface was, for an analyst, very natural.  In fact, I was often ahead of the tutorial (and this is not because I am a computer maven ñ it is in spite of my skills.)  You could review everything from competitor products to data on the power of suppliers.  And you can go behind the summary or the fact to see the source document, fax, email, PCX or web homepage ñ as it is stored on the computer (network) or even as it exists on the Internet.  This permits an analyst to rate (and store) the strength, importance, etc. of many factors, while allowing review by the analyst (and others) of the underlying sources for the data or estimate.

But, most pleasing, the manufacturer does not sell this as providing CI.  He is firm that it does not do analysis.  I wish that all software vendors were so frank.  All they can actually provide us is a way to collect and view data; analysis is done by the user, not by the software.

For the company seeking to use this, it has many useful and important features.  For example, the creator of the database can, of course, control access.  But he/she can also control who may make additions or changes.  The software generates reports showing relative rankings of almost anything in any format ñ and does so easily.

Because it start with many default features, it also shows something else ñ what you are missing in your data collections efforts.  Unfortunately, I cannot cover all of the features of STRATEGY! in this review.  Suffice it to say, that I can think of many companies who should be keeping CI profiles and supporting data in the format and structure offered by this powerful tool.

It should be noted that by the time this review is printed, STRATEGY! Version 4.0 should be available.  The improvements in the overall software are expected to be widespread.  For example, the manufacturer has said it is adding the ability to collect and manage information on key individuals as a new aspect.

About the Reviewer

John J. McGonagle, a SCIP member since 1991, is managing partner of The Helicon Group, a firm specializing in providing consulting, research and training in competitive and strategic analysis since 1980.  John is co-author with Carolyn Vella (founding partner of Helicon) of six books on CI, the newest of which is The Internet Age of Competitive Intelligence (1999). He can be reached at PO Box 199, Blandon, Pa. 19510-1099, USA, Tel. 1 610 916 2081, Fax 1 610 916 2078, or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it