July 4, 2023

Strategic planning? Never without my market intelligence.

strategic planning and market intelligence

When preparing a strategic plan, it's essential to survey your business environment. While several approaches are possible to effectively gather relevant information, this planning exercise is conducive to setting up a market intelligence system within your organization.

You're starting a strategic planning process:

As part of their annual planning process, companies (and public institutions) may define specific orientations in terms of business development, research and development, and so on. Often, these orientations can be translated into monitoring axes (customer base, competition, operations & production, etc.).

In effect, these axes are all themes that enable you to clearly orientate your monitoring system. Our recommendation here is to choose a particular axis to begin your watch. It is advisable to extend the scope of your watch later on:

  • Opportunities and customers: business opportunities; development projects and programs; calls for tender; awarding of contracts; product evolution; etc.
  • Positioning and competition: positioning and offering; pricing of services and products; new products; mergers and acquisitions; investments; new partnerships; etc.
  • Business environment: general market trends; events and networking; analyses; industry news and views; etc.
  • Technological environment: patent filings; direct and cross-fertilization of technological innovations; key drivers of innovation; etc.
  • Legal environment: regulatory framework; norms and standards; customs compliance; etc.
  • Operational: raw material prices; suppliers; workforce; industrial best practices; e-reputation; etc.
At this stage, it's also up to you to choose an effective structure for your market intelligence system, combining electronic and human intelligence tools:

  • While several software programs such as Feedly and KBCrawl are effective for structured monitoring, other tools such as Import Genius can support your monitoring efforts. It's also up to you to survey the sources of information available in your field/industry.
  • The human aspect of your strategic watch, especially in the context of strategic planning, should not be overlooked, as this exercise requires the contribution of players with a broad view of the market and the ability to discern the most important trends in your field of activity.
Some recommendations and benefits at this stage:
  • Your information needs;
    • To effectively support your strategic planning process, your information needs must be precise (data on your competitor's online presence, data on your business partners' patent filings, etc.). If these needs are well defined, it will be relatively easy to integrate them into a strategic intelligence system.
    • A way to keep your plan up to date;
    • If you rely on a strategic intelligence system, then it will be possible to update your strategic plan on a monthly or quarterly basis.
    • Once again, a decision will have to be made to determine the most appropriate frequency for adjusting your plan according to the information uncovered as part of your monitoring process.
    • The frequency with which your Board of Directors meets can give you an idea of the pace at which you should update your strategic planning.
  • Benefits for your management team, your board of directors and your strategic council;
    • It will be important to communicate the information obtained through strategic intelligence to different types of collaborators, so that they can grasp the extent of the updates made to your strategic plan.
    • Don't forget that these partners can also be involved in monitoring your business environment.
    • Finally, it will be important to inform your external partners (financial, logistical, etc.) of your monitoring efforts, especially if they are actively involved in your strategic planning.

Towards your next strategic plan:
If you use your intelligence system effectively, it will feed into your next plan without any additional research effort. With your environment already "tuned in", the stakeholders in your strategic planning will already have basic raw material in their hands.

Beyond these specific circumstances, don't forget that your employees very often monitor their business environment without any real internal sharing. At any time, a company can capitalize on these dispersed efforts by implementing an appropriate monitoring system.