Arthur D. Little: Creating competitive advantage by transforming data into intelligence

by Editor 4/22/2010 11:36:00 AM

In today’s high-risk world, foreseeing potential problems and eliminating them before they happen is the ideal many executives strive toward. As business environments move at a rapid pace, making the most of the increased volumes of available market and customer data has become business critical, a new report from management consultancy Arthur D. Little warns.

According to the report "The Art of Systematic Surveillance,” many executives miss the opportunity to use their data for strategic decision-making, instead relegating it to a “data management” task carried out by IT. However, as marketing directors and other business unit heads # are increasingly forced to make quick on-the-spot decisions, a single view of all company-critical data will give them the information needed to to respond quickly and confidently to threats and market challenges .

The report outlines a centralised approach to intelligence management that facilitates the collection and analysis of all company data, and allows leaders across the business to quickly access up-to-the-minute market intelligence.

“Our experience shows that many B2B companies fail to use their data to support long-term decision-making, and the same can be said for B2C businesses facing new consumer trends and shifts to emerging markets," said Per I. Nilsson, Global Head of Arthur D. Little’s Technology & Innovation Management Practice. “Organizations today are sitting on virtual mountains of unused data and changes in the competitive landscape, technologies and business models all mean it is more important than ever to dust off this data and use it wisely by taking a centralized approach to intelligence management.”

Arthur D. Little suggests five business functions where competitive intelligence can be successfully applied:

1. Procurement – identifying supply bottlenecks and changes in competitor activity

2. R&D – scouting new technology to gain early advantage

3. Marketing – monitoring competitor positioning strategy and advertising efforts

4. Sales/after-sales – monitoring competitor sales approaches and distribution channels

5. Human Resources –debriefing new employees and analyzing competitor compensation models

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