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B2B Competition Benchmark

E-Business Competitive Intelligence

     
7:46 pm on Sep 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I am preparing a major project on competitive benchmark regarding b2b e-business. Our competition sits in chemicals and specialties including all big dogs (as we're one as well).

I am planning on some basic anylysis such as Four Corners, Nine Forces and some such aiming to support strategic decisions on a ramp up of our e-business features and offerings to 12'000 industrial customers.

I was wondering if anyone around here could point me to some theory support or even tools online. Solid B2B tools are hard to find these days as the whole web is just swamped with quadrillions of "advisories" on "online marketing" and "marketing research" that never go beyond what you can find in the basic Google Webmasters tool sets.

many thanks for any direction and hints, maybe experience shared on similar exercises.

9:08 am on Sept 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

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anyone?
7:34 am on Sept 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I can't believe nobody wants to answer this, is this too hot a topic just because the words competition and intelligence trigger red flags all over the place?
12:38 pm on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Is nobody doing intelligence?
Or is this just the wrong category?
I never received NO RESPONSE here, what's wrong?
5:51 pm on Sept 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps nobody knows what Four Corners (sounds like a country grocery store) or Nine Forces (I think they've been getting some of that in Indonesia the past couple of days) are.

Out of curiosity, I googled both, and didn't come up with much. Apparently, Four Corners (or The Diamond Model) is a technique invented by some fellow named Porter for analyzing the competitive advantages of nations.

I found nothing on Nine Forces, save for some references in a couple of book indices, but no information online, so I'm afraid I'm still clueless as to what it is, save for, apparently, some kind of competitive analysis technique.

Clearly, our tinfoil hats are on too tight, and we don't get out much. ;)

3:31 pm on Sept 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Ok, sorry for the technical gibberish, maybe I scared away everyone but you ;-)

I just mentioned two of a series of competitive intelligence techniques I want to employ.

But anyway everyone is doing some kind of competitive intelligence in the B2B webworld or at least I would guess they should to stay on top of their game.

Regardless of techniques what is everyone else doing I was wondering and hoping for some hints on tools and best practice as well.

8:57 pm on Sept 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You are asking a very general question in a very big field. I am also unsure of your level of expertise. The following is very basic :) and just touches on a tiny area of the surface of a very deep subject.

Without appropriate scope and boundaries the particular analytic process is immaterial.

What is the scope of the proposed competitive intelligence project?
Where are the boundaries?

When setting scope and boundaries consider:
* your corporate business plan.
* your corporate budget forecast.
* your corporate strategy audit.
* industry forecasts.
* economic forecasts.
* commodity forecasts.

Then you need to clearly concisely define the problem(s) you plan to address. This should (best practice) be a dialogue between the analyst and impacted levels of management.
* list and weight the intelligence topics, i.e. problems, to be addressed. Realise that new ones may occur all through the process.
* determine, list, and weight the specific needs and wants of individual managers. Combine or concatenate where feasible.

What questions need to be answered?
The 'classic' strategic questions:
* What is the detailed global position of your business and that of your competitors:
market shares, strengths by product line, and by region today?
* What actions have your competitors taken in the past two years that have
changed the competitive landscape?
* What are you most afraid your competitors might do in the next two years to
change the landscape?

The analytic model(s) to be used determines the data and information to be collected.
* collecting the wrong information or information in the wrong format is a common mistake and waste of time and effort.
* match each intelligence topics to the appropriate analysis model.
* note that the prior point may require the use of several, even many different models.

General thoughts:
* remember that an analysis is determining findings (answers to posed questions) not simple regurgitation of developed information. Provide list of sources, references, transcripts, citations for those who wish to delve more deeply. Also the processes, sources, and assumptions that you used to arrive at the recommendations: validation is critical.
* be clear and concise, avoid marketing speak.
* remember that competitive analysis is about what is possible in the future, not what was done in the past. This does not remove possible need for historical relevance an perspective.

The analytic models determine all input and output so researching and understanding at least a half dozen and perhaps twice that may be necessary to accomplish a project.

I recommend the following book:
'Strategic and Competitive Analysis: Methods and Techniques for Analyzing Business Competition' by Craig S. Fleisher and Babette Bensoussan. It describes many analytical models and how best to apply each.

2:59 pm on Sept 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I dont think people are likely to share anything specific, Im ceratinly not - but personally I had more success with approaches like Goldratts ToC and theory of frontiers than the Porter stuff, I think its a bit outdated in tthe web era.

Also they are only models, you still have to be very good at what you do :)