The Quest for the Certain Decision
Uncertainty challenges us, and Strategic Intelligence can guide us to the Certain Decision in conditions of uncertainty.
Uncertainty in a rapidly changing business world is the chief threat facing many companies. With Globalization comes the challenge of unanticipated new competitors, many of whom we know nothing about.
In this uncertain world, every degree of clarity we achieve improves our chances of choosing wisely. So how can we systematically clear the fog of competition to present ourselves with the clearest options?
Perhaps, even the occasional Certain Decision?
No, we can’t reduce uncertainty to a risk-free level. But we can reduce risk in decision-making to manageable levels.
In fact, we can reduce risk in decision-making to such an extent that the reasonably certain decision becomes a source of competitive advantage that our competitors cannot easily replicate.
We do this by training executives to utilize powerful tools embedded within the Strategic Intelligence Triad.™
Strategic Intelligence Triad™
The Strategic Intelligence Triad™ drastically reduces risk in strategic planning and enhances confidence in key strategic decision-making.
The three pillars of the Triad are Business Intelligence, Market Intelligence, and Competitive Intelligence.
Most firms do one of these well. Some firms do two fairly well. Almost no firms integrate all three pillars of Strategic Intelligence management into a coherent and synergistic whole.
Most assuredly, executives are not trained even superficially in all three disciplines.
Actionable high-quality intelligence is the key to arriving at the Certain Decision. Each pillar of the Strategic Triad offers its own reservoir of actionable intelligence. As the diagram illustrates, each pillar interlocks with the others.
The focused center, where the three pillars intersect, is the Certainty Zone – the sweet spot of Superior Competitive Advantage where the highest quality intelligence ensures the best possible strategic decisions.
Each pillar of the Strategic Intelligence Triad™ focuses on a particular component of the business environment. Business Intelligence concerns the internal operations of the firm . . . Market Intelligence concerns the interactions of target markets with products and services . . . Competitive Intelligence concerns the capabilities, intentions, and actions of our competitors.
A short description of each discipline follows.
Business intelligence (BI) focuses on the Firm. It utilizes computer-based techniques to spot, dig-out, and analyze business data, such as sales revenue by products and departments, or by associated costs and incomes. BI technologies provide historical, current, and predictive views of business operations. Common functions of business intelligence technologies are reporting, online analytical processing, analytics, data mining, business performance management, benchmarking, text mining, and predictive analytics.
Market Intelligence (MI) is the information relevant to a company’s markets, gathered and analyzed specifically for the purpose of accurate and confident decision-making in determining market opportunity, market penetration strategy, and market development metrics. Market intelligence is necessary when entering a foreign market. Market intelligence is industry-targeted intelligence that is developed on real-time aspects of competitive events taking place among the 4Ps of the marketing mix in the product or service marketplace to better understand the attractiveness of the market.
Competitive Intelligence (CI) is an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors. This analysis provides both an offensive and defensive strategic context through which to identify opportunities and threats. Competitor profiling coalesces all of the relevant sources of competitor analysis into one framework in the support of efficient and effective strategy creation, implementation, monitoring and adjustment.
While Competitive Intelligence is an essential component of corporate strategy, most firms don’t conduct this type of analysis systematically enough. Instead, many enterprises operate on “informal impressions, conjectures, and intuition gained through the tidbits of information about competitors every manager continually receives.” As a result, traditional environmental scanning places many firms at risk of dangerous competitive blindspots due to a lack of robust competitor analysis.
Strategic Intelligence Training
American corporations face increasing competition from home and abroad, and much of that foreign competition is shrouded in opacity. High-quality, actionable intelligence is in short supply, largely because of the shortage of personnel trained in the latest methods to apply and integrate the tools and results of BI, MI, and CI.
The goal of the Certain Decision seems even farther from realization now than it ever has been. But a major American business school is attacking this challenge head-on.
As a first step, it’s launching a Strategic Intelligence Certificate Program to mid- and upper-level executives to aggressively address the comprehensive intelligence needs of the American corporation. The certificate consists of a suite of three advanced courses in the three intelligence disciplines to greatly enhance Top Management Team strategic decision-making capabilities.
Concurrently, the school is preparing technique- and case-rich EMBA and MBA components to prepare mid-level managers to understand, apply, and integrate the three intelligence disciplines that cover Firm – Market – Competition.
With trained cadres of executives who understand the value of high-quality strategic intelligence, its holistic and perishable nature, its sources and collection methods, and the necessity of its integration into the strategic decision-making of the firm, we can expect that American firms will increasingly demonstrate a keener competitive edge in world commerce as they arm themselves to meet the 21st Century challenges of Globalization.