Since the beginning of time we have been fascinated by the future – what will happen? How will these events affect us? What can I do to prepare myself? And the methods to see into the future have been many and very creative. Most modern people have however abandoned the hope of astrology, crystal balls and spiritual guides. It’s time for a more qualitative external monitoring and business intelligence.
Market research and business intelligence
The furthest we can stretch today is to predict a probable future in general terms, based on what we see in the rear mirror and the trends that a conscious observing of our current times can give us. We call this market research or business intelligence.
Finding patterns in a mess
Viewing the world around us often gives a feeling of chaos. There are very many different things going on all the time and you know that surprises lurk around every corner. When you’re in the middle of things it may feel like travelling on a ghost strain at a funfair – all the time new ugly monsters and rattling skeletons appear, and you are never prepared. But if you collect knowledge about how ghost trains are constructed, talk with those who have travelled before and maybe even see the drawings, the experience would be a completely different one. Part of the enjoyment of riding a ghost train would disappear of course, but if transferred to worklife this knowledge would feel like a big resource.
How does it work?
Navigator has worked with market research and business intelligence since 1997 in collaboration with a number of clients. This type of job often begins by mapping the self-image of the client – how they perceive themselves, what they judge as important and unimportant, how they view their close environment and their relations to the rest of the world, etc. Concretely this is about defining the world’s image, by searching databases and conducting interviews outside of the company. Both of these images are presented to the client, and through discussions will lead to a collected image. This image is an important basis for reflections, in particularly when it comes to the company’s communication.
The continuous watch
When both images are put together to one, a more systematic and continuous watch of the external environment can begin. Gradually information gathering is narrowed down, and we have a more in-depth look, rather than broad-based. The material consists of a large number of documents that are sorted, valued and analysed. With time we can form a qualified view of how the company is affected or is at risk of being affected by its environment. In the analysis one often finds that seemingly different variables can work together in a way that can show trends in society, completely outside of the company’s reach. The material and analyses are regularly put together and evaluated before being presented to the client. The whole process is built on openness and a close dialogue between Navigator and the client.
Different methods of market research
In order to see the patterns in the mess you can use different techniques. At Navigator we use the journalistic method, which means that we pose a number of questions to the collected material. What is happening? Why? Who? How? Who is acting? Who is gaining anything by this? A key expression is ”Follow the money”. In this way we look for the larger processes that single events are only an expression of.
Pressure points are defined
Now we can also define where the external environment’s pressure can be found. The parameters are put into a circle and by estimating how strong the pressure is on each respective point a ”rose” appears. This tool is continuously used as a part in the regular presentations and in order to see how the pressure points are changed over time.
The goal is continuously new approaches
The big challenge is often, as for all intelligence business, to make the client believe in the analysis and conclusions. The reasons being that the observations are often complex to handle and go against the short-term interests of the client. The dream of the simple and happy truth often has to be consigned to the future. A successful collaboration will however result in a continuous new approach that can be described as a success spiral where the company is continuously in phase, and preferably a step ahead, of the eventful surrounding environment.
- New image of the company
Continuous striving for new approaches
To get both the internal and external image of a company to develop at the same pace as the surrounding factors, a few steps need to be passed along the way. It’s important to know that change processes often take a long time and this process is always changing.
What is external monitoring?
External monitoring can be said to consist of the first step where you observe both clearly defined events and larger processes. In this stage the perspective is very broad. By analysing a larger number of observations you can see different tendencies that can have a direct or indirect effect on the actual company and its close surroundings. Knowledge about these tendencies is very valuable for strategic decisions.
Visualisation of critical points
To be able to present and discuss the critical points that have been identified we often use ”the rose”. With continuous use this tool also shows changes over time. A number of parameters are placed at the edge of the circle and then evaluated on a scale where the greatest pressure is closest to the middle of the circle.
What is market research?
When you through external analysis have identified a number of critical factors for the company, you continue by watching these specific factors according to a defined system. The perspective has been narrowed down considerably. The search takes place in open and commercial databases and the material is put together and anlyzed regularly before being presented in a manageable form to the client.
If you would like to know more about how Navigator works with business intelligence you are very welcome to get in touch.