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Competitive intelligence for strategic advantage
 

- In corporate India, gathering competitive intelligence (CI) is not yet a prerogative
- The real challenge is to inculcate an end-to-end perspective in an organisation’s CI team
- Going forward, the need for CI is set to grow, given the increasing number of multinational corporations and new players that are entering the Indian market

Mumbai, 20 August 2010: Competitive Intelligence (CI) as a discipline or a formal function is new to companies in India, but most companies are practicing CI in some way or other, for their decision-making. Competition and globalization are increasingly driving companies to take on CI in a more systematic fashion.

It is impossible for a CI professional to have ‘perfect knowledge’ of the company’s business environment. It is also not necessary to have each and every data point in order to take informed decisions. The important thing is to know what key insights are required to support decision-making.

Many companies approach CI in a fire-fighting mode. They seek inputs on the environment only when they face a crisis. In truth, CI is about continuously tracking the environment and taking appropriate corrective actions in time, so that a problem never arises. In order to be forward-looking and proactive, a company needs to put in place a framework to track its environment regularly and efficiently. The company may use a combination of external and internal resources, and technology tools in order to do this.

These issues were discussed at the briefing on ‘Competitive Intelligence Framework for Strategic Advantage’, hosted by ValueNotes in Mumbai on the 20th of August, 2010. The session started with a brief introduction to ValueNotes and our credentials in CI by Arun Jethmalani, Managing Director, ValueNotes. This was followed by a presentation by Varsha Chitale, a Director at ValueNotes who leads the company’s CI practice. Her presentation introduced the participants to the fundamentals of competitive intelligence and took them through the process of conducting CI. A case study demonstrated how a CI framework could be implemented in an organization; and finally, some best practices were discussed. A Q&A and panel discussion followed the main presentation.

The briefing was well attended by CI practitioners and enthusiasts from across various industries – IT/ITeS, banking & financial services, and manufacturing. They included CEOs, business heads, heads of strategy, marketing, planning, and business analytics and CI professionals from companies such as Dow Chemical, Firstsource, L&T Infotech, Monsanto, Pangea3, Patni, Sanofi Aventis, SBI Life and Standard Chartered Capital Markets. The delegates contributed greatly to the rich discussion that carried into the cocktails and dinner that followed.

Some of the key issues that were debated during the Q&A session included ethics in CI, return on investment in CI, size of the dedicated team required for CI, getting a buy-in for CI within the organization, and the granularity of information sought.

The topic for the panel discussion was “Challenges in doing CI in India”. Dipak Roy, President, DKSH India and Kabir Roy, Manager, Business Analytics, Metlife India joined Varsha as panelists.

Dipak Roy felt that in global companies with a diverse range of products, internalizing CI was a challenge. He said, “Being an MNC, we have to deal with both global and local companies, and a diverse range of products and services. Hence, the need for the right type of information is very high. We have found that CI in India is not a prerogative. I’ve been in the chemical industry for the past 33 years and observed that there are a lot of small and private players in this sector. The lack of information about them makes it difficult to benchmark their profitability and efficiency.” He also underscored the virtues of having a plan in place for data collection and storage. He felt that the utilization of IT and the intranet in storing information was critical.

Kabir Roy added, “The real challenge is to inculcate an end-to-end perspective in the CI team of an organisation.”

Varsha Chitale said, “At ValueNotes, we have developed methodologies for conducting due diligence and in-depth CI based on primary research. A key challenge for us is to identify appropriate proxies for estimating information that is otherwise confidential in nature.”

The panellists all agreed that going forward there will be a bigger need for CI by corporates, particularly with the increasing number of multinational corporations and new players that are entering the Indian market.

Given our CI experience and our participation as speakers at conferences, including those hosted by the Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP), we do indeed agree with our panellists. Our endeavour is to create a CI community in India and host many more such events, where CI practitioners can share and discuss the issues and challenges that they face.

About ValueNotes
ValueNotes is a leading provider of business intelligence and research, with expertise across industries, particularly in financial services, media, engineering, healthcare, IT and the outsourcing industry. The company provides a wide range of bespoke business and financial research services about specific markets, industries, companies and competitive environments. ValueNotes serves leading global corporations, consulting firms, research and B2B publishers, PE and VC firms, and money managers. The company is based in India.

For more information, please contact research@valuenotes.co.in