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Competitive Affairs: A Guide To Getting Started
Consider these issues when starting down the road to more deliberate and effective management of competitive environment information.

 

Note: "CIMS" refers to a Competitor Information Management System (such as IntoAction® or STRATEGY!® )
To implement a deliberate approach to Competitive Affairs, many o rganizations start by reviewing their competitive situation, goals and strategies, then choosing a specific department (e.g., Sales), agency or line of business as a starting place. Here are other issues that should also be considered:

Accountability. Assign specific accountability for Competitive Affairs, ideally to someone in top management. If everyone' is responsible for overall competitiveness, then, in reality, no one in particular is accountable for it.

Forces. Identify the main competitive environment forces that have a direct impact on the success of your organization or the specific department or business line on which you plan to focus first.

End-Users. Identify who is expected to use this competitive environment information on a daily basis to be more effe ctive on the job. Provide this larger group with training so they can easily access, understand and use specific competitive environment reports relevant to their jobs.

Analysts. Identify the smaller group of people who are responsible for collecting, organizing, analyzing and disseminating competitive environment information. Provide training to ensure that they use the CIMS to capture the most important data and weed out all that is trivial, irrelevant or not useful to end-users.'

Information. Identify the primary sets of competitive environment information that would be the most useful. For example, Sales people need comparisons of competitors' products or services relative to their own products or services. Assess information sources already within the four walls of the organization and focus on getting greater use (value) from that before purchasing additional data.

Technology. Acquire and install a CIMS such as IntoAction to ensure that information collection, organization and reporting is as easy as technically possible, while still giving the organization the ability to customize the information so it remains relevant to what specific departments or business lines need to be competitive. Use a CIMS that quickly compiles relevant information into useful easy-to-understand reports, ideally so that the reports are available to end-users round-the-clock on a serve yourself' basis.

Training. Identify who will communicate the organization's commitment to information-sharing to increase competitive success, answer questions and provide training on how to use competitive environment reports in particular jobs. While some people intuitively know how to use such reports, many need to be shown how it can help them do their jobs more effectively.  

Communication. Establish easy ways for people throughout the organization to contribute information about any aspect of the competitive environment that they come across which might be appropriate to include in the CIMS. A good example of this is the InTouch hotline.

Incentives.  Create rewards, recognition and other incentives to use and contribute information to the CIMS. Siemens provides bonuses if managers use the CIMS to increase sales, but only if they've contributed information to it also.

ROI. Document where the organization was when Competitive Affairs began to be a more deliberate effort and monitor changes over time. Ask for feedback from end-users' then modify the approach to continually improve effectiveness.

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