2018 International Competitive & Market Intelligence Conference Recap

Between June 5-8, 2018, Fletcher/CSI attended the 2018 International Competitive & Market Intelligence Conference in Bad Nauheim, Germany. Attendees included competitive/market intelligence and strategy professionals from leading companies across most major industries. Participants in both the B2B and B2C spaces shared their perspectives via dynamic presentations and panel discussions throughout the conference.

Day One Events

Shu Wang of Philips Consumer Lifestyle opened the event with a debate about the decreased need for conjoint analysis as businesses ride the wave of social media and digital intelligence. Shu explained that the daily creation of one quintillion bytes of data enables artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing tools to develop structured data from product feedback and social media. Feedback from customers through aggregators, such as Amazon, allows Philips Consumer to embrace text-based feedback and provide hard evidence to the product design teams. This evidence can help achieve greater insights about trade-off decisions, higher satisfaction levels, and five-star product ratings. The debate revealed that the consumer products sector needs to highlight the importance of business questions and not be tempted to simply start with the data.

Erik Elgersma of FrieslandCampina, leaders in the dairy business, discussed the importance of true industry collaboration. True collaboration means fairness and transparency to its farmer supply chain, and fair negotiation with key large retail customers. This reduces the risks inherent with operating within fixed price contracts in a volatile pan-E.U. marketplace. Erik highlighted the importance of communicating key assumptions and discussing scenarios with trading partners to identify potential “Black Swans.” The goal is to create fair exchange of value to all parties who need to understand the time it takes for execution of joint strategy into mutual long-term value.

Samira Rhoods of BMJ explained that in turbulent times, scenarios can help reframe challenges and offer a better approach to strategy formation than evidence-based planning, risk-management, and projection. The VUCA/TUNA tools were discussed to support organizational resilience and pressure-testing thought processes. Leaders can use the power of stories to envisage changes that could impact the business environment and be used to mitigate risk. The scenarios would have to be plausible, challenging, and relevant to qualify for discussion at BMJ.

Fouad Benyoub of CGI advised that CI professionals should share the CI vision and approach with stakeholders early on. CI professionals should make sure that intelligence includes a timeline to results and is not ignored by management. Fouad shared the simple model of “What?” to “So What?” to “Now What?” (i.e. a clear statement, a recommendation, and a call to action). He also highlighted the need to get a seat at the decision table to reduce the gap between internal perception and external reality.

Day Two Events

Roland Heger from ESB Business School delivered a keynote on how the internet is powering accelerated diffusion while digitization speeds up technology capability and adoption. Until recently, few people would have anticipated that Amazon could enter the automobile sector. Amazon started by selling books online, and is now a global provider of digital services and a top 10 retail organization by revenue. Roland explained that experience is more valuable than expertise in some sectors, but, technical expertise is more important in others. Roland said that decades of experience with Kodak were irrelevant when a CEO from a pure accounting background failed to see the fundamental market shift and make necessary changes. Digitization can fuel growth in non-routine occupations and create a decline in routine occupations.

Erik Wong from Beijing Institute of Science and Technology discussed how intelligence can balance both risk and return. An external innovation model led by Haier, the Haier Open Partnership Ecosystem (HOPE), was created through an open approach to collaboration. HOPE has led to the launch of 1,000+ products in hundreds of categories and over $2 billion in income. Haier strives to attract “geeks” to its ecosystem to create deep interactions and search for new partners. This collaborative intelligence platform provides resources for all stages, such as market insight and analysis, funding authorization and incubation, hardware development, software development, big data, industrial design, production and supply, and channel marketing. The Beijing Institute has become a curator of modularized innovations that support core strengths and open innovation. Erik also mentioned how Procter and Gamble created a co-development team of thousands to pioneer “Connect and Develop,” which is a model that would have been unheard of until recently. This model searches for innovations and works with prospective partners to support breakthrough innovations.

Similarly, Dell has created a user innovation community (UIC) “Ideas Storm” model to embrace new ideas. Open business models, based on social technologies that engage directly with users, have become a source of competitive advantage. Ideas Storm allows globally distributed customers to share their expertise and knowledge with each other by commenting on existing products and services and proposing new innovations. Organizations that reach out and build strong UICs can enhance internal research and development activities by allowing customers to identify new sources of innovation at lower costs.

Rainer Michaeli, Institute for Competitive Intelligence, closed the conference with a panel discussion focused on CI and MI. Delegates from all levels of experience and parts of the world were given another opportunity to share their views through open debate. One point that all attendees seemed to agree on was that the speed of change, levels of disruption, business transformation, and hyper competition will increase moving forward.

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