CiMi.con 2019 Recap

Erik Glitman, and Gordon Donkin interacting with attendees at CiMi.con 2019 Berlin. Copyright all Marcel Wogram.
Erik Glitman (left), Gordon Donkin (right) at CIMICON 2019 in Berlin, Germany. Copyright all Marcel Wogram.

CiMi.con 2019 Berlin brought a refreshing level of consistency, while maintaining the same standards for high caliber presentations and participant engagement.

We kicked off the event Sunday night with facilitated networking discussion groups. Fletcher/CSI lead a spirited discussion on Transforming Data into Intelligence and Intelligence into Action. Many ideas on data collection and using data to create intelligence were shared, and it was noted that driving action based on intelligence presented a quandary. Table visitors agreed that intelligence on its own can identify actions that should be taken, but that most CI units are limited in their ability to implement the actions. The upshot was a mandate for CI units to develop deep rapport with stakeholders, include specific recommendations for action and continually track implementation progress and nudge stakeholders if action is slowing.

Opening Remarks:

CiMi.con 2019 formally kicked off with opening remarks on the ever-changing CI landscape and duties of the CI professional. With new developments such as the Gig economy, less stable geopolitics, focused marketing (market of one), and even the move to “innovate to zero”, the task of the CI professional continues to become both harder and more exciting.

Peak Engagement:

Our first keynote showed how CI and customer insights helped Formula 1 move into a broader audience and gain new market share. The background is that Formula 1 had an ownership change in 2017. This prompted a competitive market review and new programs to increase the fan base. Our presenter shared how Formula 1 identified key market segments and incorporated digital tracking tools to understand where customers went while on race premises. A surprising finding was that peak engagement times were not when there was racing. Using this and other insights, Formula 1 adjusted the activities offered and incorporated tactics used by other large performance events to engage a larger audience and increase spend per audience member.

A presenter from Electrolux discussed how the company integrated quantitative and qualitative data into their CI operation. The context was how Electrolux’s CI unit went from a data provider to a valued partner while maintaining a value proposition and key skills. Electrolux stayed relevant by moving past a product-based focus to a user experience focus.  This focus pays attention to what competitors do and how competitor actions effect the customer experience. By looking at user experience and how emerging competitors change the experience, Electrolux’s CI unit has moved past a data centric group into a strategy support function.

Understanding Stakeholder Needs:

Following  the Electrolux presentation, the next keynote addressed the importance of understanding stakeholder needs and preferences. This can include integration of CI into the desktop while noting that effective CI requires other tools to differentiate within a world where secondary data is ubiquitous. This differentiation comes from getting data that others are not able to access, which often comes only through primary research.

Coming back to the appliance market, a presenter from B/S/H (maker of Bosch, Siemens, and Hansgrohe appliances), noted that buyer behavior for appliances varies based on the type of appliance purchased. As buyer behavior has changed, so has the purchasing process, as technology development such as integration of the internet are added to the list of product capabilities.

This change in the purchasing process has also been reflected in the B/S/H/ CI unit. The CI structure went from a siloed structure based on appliance and division to a culture of collaboration. This started by sharing information at the CI unit level, B/S/H created cross-division and appliance teams with a regular cadence for team tasks. The focus on Trust, Collaboration, and Openness led to a better CI unit operation and generated higher stakeholder engagement. This demonstrates how companies with diverse product lines can build a CI unit with broader scope that is a strategic partner to its stakeholder base.

Aligning Sales Messages with KPI’s:

A session on medical devices explored how CI can help align the sales message with the customer’s key performance indicators (KPI), and increase the sales success rate. One example was the shift in how patient monitoring devices are sold.

Historically, monitoring products were sold as an equipment sale on a replacement cycle. This puts the higher quality, and higher priced, products at a price disadvantage against the low-cost providers. While low cost products were cheaper, they typically had a shorter life cycles, which over time resulted in higher total spend. The CI unit determined that switching to a subscription-based service would align with buyers’ KPIs for predictable payments, less disruption, product updates, and replacements. Now the CI unit tracks competitor product prices, pricing strategies, and total cost of ownership. Alerting the company to changes in competitor pricing strategies helps keep the company’s offers compelling, and results with products maintaining alignment with customer needs.

Another case presented difficulties around the launch of a biosimilar into a crowded market. In this case, the CI unit came out with a plan to help focus the sales effort on parts of the market with higher potential. The first step was to identify the top prescription sources, which found specialty physicians were more likely to select the company’s product. Next they determined which patients were more likely to be prescribed the product, the results were that new patients tend to receive prescriptions more often. Using these insights, the CI unit worked to develop a new focused message targeting specialty physicians and new patients.

Moving intelligence into action required aligning actions with the full spectrum of the sale function, presenting issues and initiatives to management using compelling insights, and tracking the execution of results. This example showed how CI professionals who are experts at finding data can use that data to inspire action.

Role of War Games in CI Strategy:

The next session discussed the role of War Games in CI and strategy. The presenter explained how War Games can model out competitor and market behavior under various scenarios. They shared two unique ideas for War Game engagement. The first was a suggestion that the participants create an image of the competitor and the second was to include a provocateur within the game. The image allows each participant to visualize and personify the competitor while the provocateur challenges the perceived wisdom of the market.

Moving from B2C to B2B:

A presentation on how CI helped TomTom move from a B2C to a B2B company highlighted how competitor and market insights joined to support a successful strategic change. The process started with TomTom identifying the automotive pathway to full automation. Once that was completed, TomTom could target specific areas and technologies where it offered a unique advantage. In this process, The CI team focused its efforts to answer four key questions:

  • When will drivers be ready for automated driving?
  • When will OEMs be ready for autonomous driving?
  • What role will Tech have in Autonomous driving?
  • How fast will tech have to develop for autonomous driving?
  • What features will be most common in autonomous driving?

The answers to each of these questions help TomTom develop products that have a current and future automotive role even as the market itself changes.

Innovation in Business:

A presentation from 3M provided an interesting insight into how 3M uses landscaping as a business tool to serve divisions and gain competitive innovations insight. A key challenge for 3M is its structure as a large multinational company composed of diverse market sectors around the world.

The presenter stressed that it is important for CI professionals to understand the position of the internal customer to support their needs, predict their challenges, and be ahead of their game. By developing a deep understanding of the stakeholders’ world and seeing their challenges through their prism, supported by a variety of tools and techniques, the CI unit can add serious long-term value to the challenges of developing a world class innovation process.

Wirecards’ presenter shared her perspective on how innovations within the payment systems world are bringing about radical changes to the retail experience. An example of how new payment systems are driving change was presented using a case study from Asia. According to the presentation, new payment paradigms could quickly migrate to Europe and other parts of the world.

A colorful, innovative and interactive discussion led by Mastercard presented how Blockchain could become a huge and disruptive force over the next decade. The creative and provocative talk highlighted possible future applications that could impact everyone and disrupt the payment processing status quo. The potential impact of Blockchain is such that any company not monitoring the current progress of Blockchain could become vulnerable. The speaker predicted that future Blockchain accomplishments could include disintermediation, increased automation and standardization, streamlining of process and cost reduction. A debate followed as to the levels of risk associated with Blockchain and the current shift toward trust in protocols and making trust an important commodity for the future.

Final Thoughts:

The CiMiCon event grows from strength to strength. The event offers growth-oriented leadership teams that use competitive insight tools, and share new ideas on how to reduce uncertainty and produce better decisions. These tools enhance operational effectiveness and support organizational objectives. Tools such as primary research, scenario planning, war gaming and environmental scanning help reframe the competitive landscape, and raise awareness of disruption threats from non-traditional competitors. Applying the tools and techniques can help improve the quality of prediction.

Click here to read our recap of CiMi.con 2017 or Click here to learn more about CiMi.con Berlin 2020

-Erik Glitman, CEO Fletcher/CSI and Gordon Donkin, Director of European Operations