Competitive Intelligence: Analyse Company Information to Understand Corporate Strategy
Thursday, 2nd May 2013
By Milan Dalal
Milan Dalal of the Brook Intelligence Centre discusses the research and analysis you need to conduct in order to understand your competitors' and clients' corporate strategies. Historical and current context are essential along with major events and third party views and Milan discusses which information sources can help you identify these key elements.
In a bid to deepen their relationships with clients, companies are increasingly trying to better understand their customers’ strategic goals. This article tells you specifically what to look for so that you can reach objective conclusions about the organisation's direction and priorities.
Much of the information is readily available in the press, a company’s own accounts, and from trade bodies. This article will help you focus on exactly what to look for.
Context, Key Events and Third Party Opinion
Large companies do set their targets out in some detail but usually don’t provide historical context or details about actions deemed to be negative – such as redundancies or legal challenges. The objective is therefore to: 1) provide context, including historic actions and market trends, 2) include recent key events and 3) include objective third party sentiment.
What are the trends and issues affecting the company’s industry? Is it consolidating? What technologies are shaping the industry? Which overseas markets are growing? What estimates are forecasters placing on the size of particular verticals? What are major competitors doing?
Use this analysis to undertake a gap analysis to frame the company’s strategy.
Every company is bound by its numbers and numbers always provide clues. Look at headline figures and analyse the trends. Also look at divisional and geographic splits – as well as the margins. These will tell you which parts of the business are over- or under-performing.
3. Mergers & Acquisitions
Recent acquisitions, disposals and joint ventures always tell a story. Is the company acquiring certain lines of business? Is it concentrating on particular markets? Do the disposals have similar patterns or are they part of a restructuring of the business? How much is it spending on acquisitions?
4. Researching Your Company
By now you should have gleaned a good deal of knowledge and will have come up with a good list of questions. Undertaking an extensive news search will immediately start to fill those gaps. This part of the research will give you plenty of objective third party assessments and impressions and can begin to provide you with enough information to start forming your own opinions.
Remember a company’s own strategy tells the story from its point of view and so it is important to pick up third party views to get impartial opinions.
From the press you should get the following as a minimum: market sentiment around the rationale behind any deals, any major restructuring news that the company has chosen not to draw attention to, major product launches or moves into new countries.
5. Piecing Together the Strategy
News is reported in a linear way. Your job is to now "link up the stories" so that it tells a cohesive narrative. To avoid re-inventing the wheel, take the company’s own strategy as it sets it out, but edit out what you think is superfluous and add in your own findings. Use the financial and market analysis to give context. Include key events to show if a company is following through on its strategy (or not as the case might be) and, importantly, cite press sentiment to give a balanced point of view.
FreePint Subscribers can read more of Milan's advice on analysing corporate strategy. Log in to view "Competitive Intelligence: Deciphering Corporate Strategy using Secondary Sources".
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