The Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) annual conference is the premier global event for Competitive Intelligence (CI) professionals world-wide. As the only such event developed and run by the CI trade association, it presents a neutral environment to meet with peers, vendors, suppliers, partners, and academics. SCIP’s new executive director opened the event with the kick-off and maintained an active presence throughout.
Our kick-off was a call to action by David Frigstad who pointed out that within the SCIP community there are experts in almost every field of business and science. Calling on these experts to contribute their knowledge, and CI skills to address the most pressing problems society faces, David issued a challenge to all CI professionals to look past their day jobs and work together to develop solutions. This call to action was followed up by a series of brainstorming sessions throughout the event that explored how to engage SCIP members in collaborative action, expertise sharing, and communications.
Hotelier’s Perspective on CI:
Following the kick-off, our next keynoter presented the hotelier’s perspective on CI and how it drives the market. Using International Hotel Group (IHG) as the example, we learned just how complex the hotel market is. For the casual traveler, the hotel is the room and public spaces, but behind the scenes there is so much more. The market is composed of the different brands (over 1,039 in the US), the franchises, and customers. Fortunately, there are some tools that help make sense of the market, including data providers who track hotel occupancy and room rates, new construction, and many other factors. This data can get to very granular levels, even down to what rooms are sold (but not who they are sold to). The problem is making sense of all that data. The IHG team operates with seven key principles that apply to all CI units:
- Be curious about your market
- Build partnerships and relationship with your stakeholders
- Keep your deliverables simple and easy to understand
- Educate your stakeholders about what you do and how to use CI services
- Create action by telling a story that includes recommendations for action
- Exercise leadership, be humble, and understand you’re not the smartest person in the room
- Trust in your partners and create an open environment were dissention is allowed.
These seven principles can apply to all CI units, and the more complex your business environment the more important it is to follow them.
Purpose and Activities of CI:
In the later session, Liam Fahey presented on the purpose and activities of CI. He started out with a simple premise: Analysis is fine, but the only value of Analysis is the insights it provides. From this baseline, we can see that the purpose of CI is to provide insights and the purpose of these insights is to enable discussions within the organization. In order to drive the discussions, insight needs to meet a few criteria. It has to be:
- New to the audience (your company)
- Novel to others (no one else has seen it)
- Non-Obvious (not something that is readily apparent to a competitor or outsider)
- Congruent with the world (no flying dragons or breaking the laws of physics)
- Explanatory (provides a clear rationale for what is happening or will happen)
- Enduring (the insight applies beyond the single situation)
If the new insight fits all the above criteria and is specific to one industry, then it has the highest value and can open the audience to new perceptions about the market, and drive changes.
Amir Fleishman also shared a comprehensive list of search engines. His basic message was that it is critical to any effective CI professional to go beyond Google when conducting secondary data searches. For further insights into the search engine list contact us or visit our web site.
Fletcher/CSI Workshop and Panel:
Fletcher/CSI contributed to the SCIP event in two sessions.
The first was a workshop on Scenario Planning which we co-facilitated with colleagues August Jackson, Kent Potter, and Greg Bridgman. This group has conducted the scenario planning workshop for the past four years, and our success at predicting competitor actions is very high. In 2019 we looked at the residential housing market in 2040 and how it will differ from today’s market. Using a set of analysis tools, teams examined current trends to project a set of scenarios about the market. Each team then identified key strategies that their company would have to implement to survive in that market. One strategy identified that crossed all the scenarios was to have tighter control over the new and existing home sales process, including either using social media to promote and manage sales, or creating a property management unit.
The second event was an interactive panel that discussed how corporate CI units use results from third party CI efforts. Topics covered in the panel ranged from how vendor/partners are selected, what parts of vendor reports are shared (and how they are shared), and the overall role of vendors in the CI unit operation. The consensus of the panel was that without vendor support, many key CI activities are difficult, if not impossible to complete. Selecting and working with the right partner is a critical part of the process, with the right support activities are able to be done properly and add great value.
We continue to find that the SCIP annual event offers the best opportunity to interact with CI professionals from all industries and levels of experience. Each year we find new ideas, learn about new tools and share stories with our peers. I hope that you will join us in 2020!