Ensuring that your organization's market intelligence system is well integrated and up-to-date takes ongoing effort. Needs change, organizations scale up or down and the external operating environment never remains the same. What are some best practices in integrating your market intelligence tools with other corporate processes so that the output stays relevant?
Intelligence tools cater to the diverse needs of different end-users, from senior management to corporate functions and geographical regions.
Most companies choose to focus on creating a continuous monitoring system that also allows for ad-hoc research and collaboration. With the speed at which we work nowadays, companies need market intelligence tools that start delivering immediately after launch. For this reason, companies are increasingly turning to external readymade tools.
When integrating any market intelligence tool with various corporate processes and organizations, one needs to consider the internal stakeholders, the overall business goal and direction, the key principles behind integration, the systems already in place and the role of different processes.
It can be a daunting task.
Here are some practical tips from our experience in advising global companies on their market intelligence systems.
Involve all your stakeholders
Needless to say, one should keep two-way communications lines with the end-users open at all times. It is natural to face local resistance from other stakeholders and it is important to take their views into account, so they can become advocates later on. Offering them some level of customization is one practical option and conducting a comprehensive stakeholder needs analysis is another.
It is also critical to keep the development process transparent to your markets, especially as the company expands internationally.
Align with business goals
Always maintain a future orientation in your perspective on how your market intelligence tools should develop and keep it aligned with your overall business goals and corporate strategy.
What are some risks that can be addressed with market intelligence?
Ensuring the system works well is an ongoing effort and it is useful to create a checklist at the beginning that you can regularly use to evaluate the system as it evolves.
1. Is it intuitive and easy to navigate?
2. Is it flexible and scalable?
3. Can it be personalized?
4. Can the information be accessed across different digital platforms?
5. Does it allow for collaboration amongst user communities?
6. Can the interface be made to look similar to existing internal systems?
7. Does it allow for analytical tools?
8. Does it provide sophisticated usage statistics?
9. Can it be integrated with other internal systems when needed?
10. Does it meet the organization's security requirements?
11. Does it allow for versatile authentication and sign-on possibilities?
12. Does the vendor's track record show it to be reliable and able to understand my needs?
Learn from IT
Your internal IT department can become important allies. Consider asking them to share knowledge and best practices with the team. To some extent, there are often some lessons that can be learnt about end-user needs from past IT projects.
Integrate with other internal systems
Much market intelligence is available internally and can be pulled into the tools you are developing. At times, it may be as simple as utilizing dashboard views to bring data together within a corporate portal for business decision-makers.
Be aware of the need for organizational buy-in and internal ownership of different systems. It is always valuable to evaluate the level of integration with other systems that is necessary, based on the genuine requirements of different business processes over and above other plausible reasons.
Hans Hedin, Vice President Business Development, Global Intelligence Alliance