The Value of Market Intelligence in a Down Economy

A recent Sourcing Interests newsletter contained an article on the value of obtaining market intelligence in a down economy that should not be overlooked, especially since many organizations might be tempted to eliminate (or at least severely reduce) the budget for market intelligence in difficult economic times.

The article makes a good argument for the retention of the effort (and associated budget):

  • the utilization of market intelligence is an integral part of the sourcing process
    (and without it, how likely are you to know what the true cost of a good or service is)
  • the intelligence gathering process is a reiterative one
    it’s not a “one and done” approach, which should be obvious since market conditions are constantly changing and the big winners are those who sense a change early
  • it enables ongoing supplier relationship management
    which is key in difficult times; look at the auto industry: the American automakers (who consistently score less than 200 on the OEM-Supplier Working Relations Index[WRI]) are all failing while the Japanese (and Korean) manufacturers, who coooperate and collaborate with their suppliers, are doing much better (and rocking the WRI charts)
  • it isn’t as expensive as you think it is
    a lot of the data and information you need to spot trends and focus in on the core issues and data points is low-cost, and often free; consider the following providers of low-cost market intelligence

    • Professional Organizations
      the professional organizations you belong to usually have large collections of quality information and data that is free to member (organization)s
    • Trade Publications
      for a subscription that literally costs a few dollars a month, you can often get unlimited access to the complete publication archive on its website
    • Your 401(K)
      Most 401(K) plan websites post analyst reports, which are free to investors. (And those that don’t post on the website usually make the reports available for the cost of postage.)
    • Conferences
      Most conferences these days include a CD with the complete presentation archive, and many conferences are starting to record the presentations and making the DVD(s) available to attendees for a few hundred dollars.
    • Industry Professionals
      If you attend a conference, seminar, or workshop where an individual or organization presents his, her, or its work, chances are they’ll be more than happy to share their research and / or data with you if you just ask.
    • Your Supply Base
      Chances are that your suppliers, who want you to succeed because they need your business, will be more than happy to share any insights and data they have with you (that pertains to your joint business) if you just take the time to talk to them.
    • Your Internal Experts
      Your people on the front lines probably have a decent sense of what’s happening before management does. Talk to them, and let them steer your analysts in the right direction.
    • The Blogs
      Bloggers delight in providing you with free information.

Market Intelligence is critical for good decision making. It identifies risks before they materialize and insures that your contracts have appropriate risk mitigation clauses built in. It leads to savings and cost avoidance that would never be identified without it. And it doesn’t require multiple high five-figure subscriptions to analyst firms … just some elbow-grease, intelligence, and smartly selected memberships and limited-access plans with the appropriate analyst firms that allow you to access the key research you need (identified from lower cost sources) and leave the research you don’t.