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One of the things that puzzles me about Corporate America is how little attention is paid to collecting intelligence on what the competition is up to. Oh, sure, just about every senior manager worth the price of their Mens' Wearhouse suit has a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, and in Fortune 500 companies like the Evil Banking Neighbor there's a handful of corporate librarians scouring the trade publications, but is there any real effort to collect and analyze information on the competition and the market?

To a certain extent, some of this is done by independent contractors. There's no shortage of market research firms out there scouting the terrain like a herd of combat engineers to figure out what the go/no-go lay of the land is. I find it hard to believe, though, that the business world, which socially speaking has shaped and been shaped by the military since the early 20th century, would not have adopted some of the collection and analysis tools that the Pentagon first developed in the 1940s. It's not even that complicated.

I'm obviously too old to get into that line of work, but I do wonder why it's not more visible.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
zippychik
Jun. 20th, 2006 12:15 am (UTC)
Thanks for the posting. It really made me laugh, especially since I just ended that stint in retail hell-- with a MAJOR PUBLICLY OWNED CHAIN. This place can't properly train their staff nor keep their equipment functioning. Do you really think they'd be collecting and analyzing intelligence on their competitors??? As long as the bottom line looks good, the hell with it.
wombat_socho
Jun. 20th, 2006 12:29 am (UTC)
It wasn't actually intended as humor, believe it or not. I know that in retail things like training get pushed down to the local level, not always successfully. At the corporate headquarters, though, you do have to pay some attention to what your competition is doing, though, otherwise they'll come up with a way of doing things or take advantage of some trend you didn't see coming, and then the next thing you know you're K-mart, trying to regain market share from Target on one side and Wal-Mart on the other.
radio_gnome
Jun. 20th, 2006 01:03 am (UTC)
well, one reason it might seem to not be so visible is that it's rather sensitive information. We (my company, I'm peripherally involved in the tech) do collect and analyze a lot of competitive intelligence, some is dispersed to the general staff, some is kept a little tighter to the vest.
digex
Jun. 23rd, 2006 04:37 am (UTC)
corp G2
it varies, mainly based on industry I will guess.

(disclamer - I only KNOW a few industries, all others
would be speculation)

consumers industries (some know, some speculation)
have secret shoppers and other things - they seem to
know they need to know, I think because margins are
thin and intel is important mainly in pricing, and in
product-pricing, decisions. Also, service quality is a
big deal, and that is clearly a form of intel on yourself;
nobody likes those guys - Kevin would understand ;-)

"high tech" industries are interested in tech innovations,
less so the pricing of things since the attitude is more one
of "run faster and innovate and you will get the customers"
than "we can do it for 12% cheaper" although there is a
"mid tech" pricing interest, and always one in the "low tech".

As someone who has rolled dumpsters for G2 data (although
not in decades, honest!) I can assure you that SOME people
put a value on the info, but it is actually a rarity that a company
goes to extraordinary lengths to be informed.

doug

Oh, and putting the coffee grounds in with the secret stuff
actuallys DOES make it a lot harder, or at least a lot nastier
for the information gathering person. yeech.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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