Market Intelligence – How your Company can use it

Every business in the world is constantly looking for ways to gain an edge on its rivals. Keeping one step ahead of the competition is vital. That is a natural way to run a company and, if successful, is something that reflects well on everyone concerned, as long as the process is carried out in a legal, ethical, and morally correct way.

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Many different methods can be used to try to gain traction in any particular industry or sector, with the most popular having applications that can be adapted to a wide range of companies. In today’s digital society, the use of so-called ‘Big Data’ sits at the heart of several of the most important and effective ways of achieving the objective, simply because there is so much information being generated.

What is market intelligence?

Although ‘the market’ is often used as shorthand for the business of trading in stocks and shares, it has a much broader meaning across the whole world of commerce. Every enterprise has a ‘market’ of its own, whether it is a multinational corporation or a one-man-band sole trader contractor.

That market covers a demographic, or set of demographics, that make up the target end-users of the service or products on offer. In turn, ‘market intelligence’ is any and all of the relevant data sets and could include anything from the correct use of CRMs to monitor a customer experience journey, through to detailed analysis of trends and outside influences that affect the market.

Forecasting

The accurate analysis of any information can give insights into how decision-making is having effects on company performance, whether in positive or negative terms. However, the wide range of insight that ‘Big Data’ can give means that opportunities and development strategies can be finely honed to achieve results when utilized to best advantage.

Alex Friedman is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Jackson Hole Economics, one of the acknowledged leaders in the field. Alex and his team at the private research organization work with policymakers to develop market intelligence that leads to actionable strategies. Similar cutting-edge processes can be applied to virtually any commercial trading scenario, no matter how big or small, leading to a better understanding of where to invest money and resources.

Waste reduction

Any business looking to move forward needs to know which areas of its operations work well and which are not performing to required standards. Once that knowledge is in hand, decisions can be made as to which resources, including financial ones, can be put to better use, thereby reducing or eliminating waste.

As market intelligence covers data gathering from external environments as well as internal ones, secondary sources of information such as news websites and social media can be utilized and turned into essential tools. That is where the highly innovative process differs from previous ideas of business intelligence, which is mainly based on internal sources such as sales, purchases, and other direct and indirect client and B2B interactions.

How to access market intelligence

Different market conditions that pertain to any given business will, of course, change in various ways, adding complexity to market intelligence gathering that means there can be no real ‘one size fits all’ solution.

Accurate data must be found using tools that are targeted to specific situations, which means that a range of options such as online monitoring, ‘secret shopper’ visits to competitors, surveys, and personal interviews can all play a part if needed.

That essentially means that the best use of market intelligence processes can only be made when third party specialists are involved. Even though end-user tools, as provided by Google and other companies, can be extremely useful in data gathering, the full range of interventions, such as using focus groups, will most likely be beyond the means of most businesses. 

Law and ethics

Any commercial operations that involve collecting and handling vast amounts of data need to take responsibilities that feature both legal and moral obligations into account. Many countries have introduced data protection laws that, if breached, can cost a company dearly in terms of fines and other admonishments. 

In the public arena, a significant data breach or other mishandling of personal information can lead to severe reputational damage that a business might find it difficult to recover from. That is why any operations reliant on data can be an ethical minefield for a company attempting to use market intelligence without having the knowledge or experience to do so correctly.

When it comes to getting an accurate snapshot of any market with a view to discerning trends and future development, the analysis of the data collected is as critical as the quality of the information itself. That is why using market intelligence to further the aims of a business is something that is usually best left to the professionals. When done properly, the results can be truly transformative.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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