Gaining a Supply Chain Edge

The Great Comeback, Part 7: Competitive Intelligence

As I was thinking about this next part of the Great Comeback strategy and plan (see the post about the five-part process you need to create your own strategy here ), I thought about how much we as humans rely on categorization and labeling to get along in the world.

We're always trying to identify patterns in things after all, we were more likely to survive if we could see that a broken branch in the path, the sudden flight of birds nearby, and unusual animal paw prints in the dust were signs that, taken together in a pattern, meant there might be a predator around and to be cautious.

That's why the game Twenty Questions is so popular. You can take anything at all you can think of, and as your friends ask you Yes or No questions about that thing, they can guess what it is according to what categories it belongs in or doesn't belong in.

Getting back to the point of this post: Is your competition animal, vegetable or mineral? More seriously, do you know how your competition is reacting to the Great Recession and what they are planning to do after it ends?

Understanding your current positioning versus your competitors', and how they will respond to your Comeback Plan, are important considerations. This is the second step of developing your Comeback Plan: Competitive Intelligence. The Competitive Intelligence process requires you to answer these questions in order to see if you really know how to categorize and label your competition's actions or if they will end up being the King of the Jungle while you're left in the dust.

What did your competitors do in response to the Great Recession?

What will your competitors do in response to the Great Comeback?

And, perhaps more importantly:

How will they respond to what you do?

How will you respond to what they do?

The details of top level questions should be pursued by asking the following types of questions:

What is your competition offering to their customers that you are not? Are they expanding their offerings?

Do you or your competitors have an advantage with certain customers, geographic areas or service lines? Why?

Have your competitors stratified their customers differently from you?

What sales channels, marketing approaches or market segments are your competitors pursuing and why?

What innovations/creativity are your competitors bringing to the marketplace?

What are your competitors doing different geographically than what you are doing?

What merger and acquisition activities, outsourcing, joint ventures or alliances are your competition pursuing? Do these activities give them a game-changing opportunity in terms of market position, geographical reach, scale, technology, cost, etc.?

How are you positioned versus the competition to gain market share?

How well has your competition retained, grown or added to their talent?

What strategic focuses are your competitors pursuing? How does your competition view the market going forward? What do they see as the key market drivers and constraints?

Jim

Tompkins Associates

TAGS: Supply Chain
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