Turning Information Overload into a Competitive Advantage

Monitoring of the market environment helps to ensure that relevant signals are permanently picked up.

Information overload is a challenge any market intelligence function faces. How to ensure all relevant signals from the market environment are permanently picked up, whilst the efforts for doing so are minimized and the decision-makers only receive need-to-know information and analysis as and when they need it? Dairy company FrieslandCampina for over a decade optimized its market information processing. This is the first time their learnings are shared externally.


Timely, complete and accurate monitoring

Dairy ranks among the most volatile international trades. Milk product prices may double or halve within six months. In the business environment FrieslandCampina operates in, forecasting future market developments requires a permanent and intensive monitoring of the global environment, both of so-called “˜unstructured’ or qualitative data and of quantitative data.


Based on highly automated internet-news search protocols, at FrieslandCampina thousands of sources are screened permanently for news on over 400 different customers and competitors, covering dairy-related news of over 100 countries in a half-dozen languages. These search protocols typically offer 500 “˜raw’ news items daily.


Efficient processing and decision-maker-focused distribution

This “˜raw’ news is filtered on relevance, leaving about 50-60 new news items daily. Automatically each of these items gets multi-dimensional thesaurus-based key word-tags. The thesaurus of these key word metadata has been based on FrieslandCampina’s corporate strategic value drivers, so it matches the language of any business manager in the group. The key word tagging allows choosing and disseminating the news that matters most to each individual manager.


By using the value drivers as starting point, all FrieslandCampina’s top-400 managers get a daily email-based tailored, need-to-know news feed. Through this granular distribution, FrieslandCampina’s managers are on top of their own need-to-know developments each in its own fast-changing environment. This permanent RADAR pays off: it for example allowed to pick up “˜early warning’ weak signals on competitor merger talks, allowing FrieslandCampina to pro-actively defend its interests.


FrieslandCampina thus capitalizes on its scale and market intelligence investments to turn what is information overload to others into competitive advantage through agility for itself.


In June, I will attend the M-Brain Conference (formerly GIA Conference) in Amsterdam, which focuses on the key strategic success factors of Market and Competitive Intelligence. There FrieslandCampina will demonstrate in more detail how we turn information overload into a competitive advantage.


By Erik Elgersma


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