Systematic tracking of weak signals helps you to prepare for future competition
Monitoring your current competitive landscape is a rather straightforward task. All you need to do is identify your competitors, follow their actions, and assess the potential implications to your business. Understanding the operating environment of the future, however, is where things usually get complicated.
New trends with potentially drastic impacts on your core business are emerging all the time. The sooner you identify weak signals supporting different types of significant developments, the more time you have to react and prepare for the implications.
- What will be our core business?
- Who will be our competitors / customers?
What kind of weak signals should I be looking for?
Changes in the competitive landscape can be triggered by different types of developments. Disruptive technologies, completely new type of business models, changes to legislation, and changing consumer behavior, just to name a few, can all lead to irreversible changes in the operating environment.
The key in here is to understand the underlying assumptions that your strategy is based on. Then you can evaluate market developments from the perspective of whether they present an opportunity or a threat to your company and the industry as a whole.
How do I find the relevant signals?
Finding the relevant pieces of information from the vast amount of data out there requires two things: a sophisticated tool that can process a wide array of sources and report the signals that might be relevant for you, and an analytical person who understands what should be searched for and can evaluate the findings from your company’s specific point of view.
A software product such as a search tool is not able to make the connection between a single weak signal, an emerging trend, or their potential implications to your company’s competitive landscape. In other words, search tools can enable you to effectively scan the developments in your business environment, but only when you know exactly what kind of information you are looking for.
Identifying weak signals that could be relevant for you, but are out of your current scope of monitoring, i.e. things that you don’t know you should be looking for, is a totally different ball game. Tracking these kinds of developments requires a thorough understanding of the competitive landscape, not just a standard set of keywords.
This is why a fully-automated news service is still not capable of replacing the human brain, when it comes to tracking relevant market signals and evaluating their potential impact on your business.
By Jarno Koskinen
Intelligence Best Practices