Stage 1: Understanding core competencies
While this may seem like an obvious starting point, it can’t be stressed enough how important it is to understand where the company is coming from. The idea of being able to be competitive without knowing your own strengths and weaknesses is simply foolish.
One way to kick this work off is to carry out a SWOT analysis of your organization and offering. The important thing to remember when it comes to this type of analysis is that strengths and weaknesses are generally specific to internal operations. In order to ensure you are not losing sight of external factors, it’s often useful to incorporate a PEST analysis in tandem.
This analysis will not only give an overview of where and how your brand is operating but will also create a framework for the strands that need to be monitored going forward. Ensuring that strengths are leveraged as effectively as possible can make or break your competitive intelligence strategy. This coupled with an agile mindset will create further areas of strength.
In their paper, “The Core Competence of the Corporation“, C.K.Prahalad and Gary Hamel set out three qualifications for measuring your company’s core competencies:
“An area of specialized expertise that is the result of harmonizing complex streams of technology and work activity.”
- It must provide potential access to a wide variety of markets.
- It should make a significant contribution to the perceived customer benefits of the end product.
- It should be difficult for competitors to imitate.
There is a counter to the core competency model that companies like Nike and Netflix are spearheading. This is rooted in the level of disruption we are now seeing in the markets and which companies, in order to succeed, must adapt to. This argument is more than valid, however, no matter how effective your business model is, there is always a starting point and that can, more often than not, be brought back to core competencies.
So what do you do once you’re identified your strengths weaknesses and core competencies?
Get to know the perception of your customers.
This may be easier said than done but there are so many options in terms of gathering this information.
First, look internally. The collective intelligence of your employees is massive. By tapping into the right teams, you can learn more about your customers than any kind of market research can uncover.
Start with your customer facing teams like sales, customer success, and customer support. Then move onto wider teams like product and research. Gaining perspectives on what your employees think of the wider brand and how it’s serving customer can be just as valuable as getting insight on your customers.
To drive a truly effective competitive mindset you need to ensure your employees are committed too, so understanding where they stand is a key starting point. Once this is done, it’s just as important to follow up at regular intervals to see how perceptions are changing and if your efforts are having the desired effect.
Another effective way of gathering customer sentiment is through social data. Generally speaking, people are more unbiased on social compared to when they are speaking to a company rep or survey, this means there is a wealth of information to be gleaned.