Importance of market and competitive intelligence
Over the last decade, market and competitive intelligence (MI/CI) has emerged as a focus area for all organizations, including asset management (AM) firms, looking to gain strategic agility. As the AM industry battles a difficult macro-economic scenario, cost pressures, fee compression, patchy returns, and an increasingly digital client landscape, leveraging data effectively has become crucial to gaining an edge in the market.
MI/CI is important for AM firms as it not only helps them to understand the market they operate in and the competition, but also helps them to identify opportunities and challenges. The success of an AM firm is largely dependent on its ability to make better, timely, and informed decisions before anyone else. MI/CI plays a pivotal role in this by providing an information advantage.
To meet growing demands, MI/CI teams across organizations, including AM firms, are transforming themselves to offer a timely 360-degree view of the entire ecosystem, including the market and its sub-segments, investors, competitors, innovations and disruptions, megatrends, and so on. MI/CI teams have multiple objectives and responsibilities including, but not limited to:
- Figuring out a company’s vision, what it wants to achieve, and what steps it needs to take to achieve it
- Refining business and marketing strategies to ensure continuous growth, success, and revenue maximization by re-evaluating existing investment products/services, launching new products/services, entering new markets, shifting marketing spend, or optimizing distribution tactics
- Benchmarking firms to gauge their position and identify areas of improvement
- Discovering new markets or opportunities in existing markets
- Identifying target companies for acquisition or partnership, to scale up or build new capabilities
- Understanding new products, innovations, and technologies that may affect a client’s industry
- Tracking and forecasting macroeconomic factors and strategic themes (e.g., ESG/sustainability and regulatory developments) that have a direct/indirect impact on companies
- Knowing clients’ competition and keeping track of their moves to gain an edge
- Understanding customer sentiments, behavior, and their evolving needs and expectations
Why meeting MI/CI objectives is challenging
Keeping a close and real-time track of the entire industry, trends, regulations, financial markets, and competitive landscape is not an easy task. It requires a well-thought-out approach, and that is where several organizations face problems. To top it all, internal functions/teams are not always as well-structured or connected as they should be. Moreover, AM firms often have multiple teams that conduct research and generate insights, and the knowledge acquired by strategy, product development, marketing, sales and distribution, and client servicing teams remain siloed. As a result, AM firms are not able to reap or unlock the unlimited benefits of MI/CI.
Operations, capacity, budgetary, and technology Challenges that impede MI/CI
“At my company, there aren’t enough resources.”
“It’s difficult to keep every single piece of intel up-to-date; we are also behind in terms of IT usage.”
“So much vital information is gated. Therefore, collecting them is time-consuming and reliant on clients. We don’t have a competitor intel platform that can collect information for us.”
“We have no budget and insufficient time to do things manually. There are so many internal requirements for different kinds of information.”
“There’s never enough time to communicate with other departments.”
“We have to handle a large volume of information and try to make sense of it by drawing out what matters.”
“Employees were concerned that the CI team was doing too little, too late. They felt that they were constantly on the defensive and that competitors had the upper hand as they were using insights against them.”
These challenges can lead to problems in data collection, curation, distribution, and usage, as has been detailed below:
- Data collection: Gathering intel is the first step of the MI/CI process and key to ensuring the effectiveness of an MI/CI program. The main issues of this stage are related to:
- Accuracy and reliability of data sources
- Method of data collection (manual, slow, and time-consuming, resulting in out-of-date intel and less time to analyze findings)
- Lack of fixed process or pre-decided timeline
- Ill-defined industry/market segments, competitors, products/services, or topics of interest that need to be tracked
- Ineffective collection of information, leading to overlooking of strategic updates from competitors and the market, major industry news, trends and innovations
- Overlooking of emerging or non-traditional competitors or potential adversaries until they make major news and start impacting business
- Inability to take up last minute requests
- Difficulty in leveraging or navigating existing resources – AM firms have access to a plethora of databases, tools, and other resources, but may not be aware of what each resource offers and how it can be utilized.
- Data organization/curation: In many cases, AM firms may have the information they need but still fail to derive business insights due to lack of proper organization and/or inefficient analysis and curation. Some organizations still sort and classify data manually. Due to the large volumes of data, such processes are generally ineffective. The main issues of this stage are related to:
- Non-utilization of significant amounts of market and competitive intelligence
- Unconsumable data because of lack of structure that makes it difficult to find or sort information by function, product, source, topic, industry segment, geography, etc.
- Difficulty in getting actionable insights and translating the intel into useful and impactful resources, and bottom-line drivers
- Lack of prioritization, according to relevance or level of strategic importance
- Difficult-to-navigate market and competitive intelligence systems
- Information distribution: The importance of this final step cannot be overstated, as all the initial steps are valuable only when the intel reaches the right stakeholders at the right time to enable informed decision-making. The main issues of this stage are related to:
- Existing one-size-fits-all distribution channels
- Traditional distribution channels (emails, text messages, etc.), rather than customizable technology for instant alerts, market and competitive intelligence reports, continuous updating of news feed in CRM, KMs, and more
- Lack of proper channels/misalignment between CI teams, stakeholders, and end-users
- Lack of ways in which information can be consumed
Overcoming challenges with well thought out and structured approach
In times when AM firms are overloaded with information but starving for insights, they must prioritize efforts and investment in the MI/CI capabilities required to differentiate themselves and gain market share. This function can transform raw qualitative data into actionable, forward-looking intelligence and quantifiable results, leading to better financial outcomes for asset managers and investors alike.
Information assets generated by MI/CI teams can be leveraged by all teams within AM firms, including product development, insights, marketing, and client servicing. An effective MI/CI strategy can help create a ‘single version of the truth’ that integrates all research and intelligence, initiatives, and insights to be utilized by teams at an enterprise level.
The key to making an MI/CI program a success is clearly establishing how it will solve problems regularly faced by different teams. Knowing how to identify and react to common problems is a critical skill for competitive intelligence professionals.
A combination of domain expertise and technology can aid each phase of the MI/CI process. This may require AM firms to invest in software, platforms, and tools; allocate internal resources to teams; provide access to leadership; enable visibility of data from across the organization; manage knowledge sharing; effectively manage third-party vendors; and so on.
Evalueserve as a valued partner
Evalueserve offers a hybrid and scalable insights program that covers competitor news, thought leadership, industry trends, tech disruptions, product launches, and more to provide actionable and timely results. Its unified view of the competitive landscape helps users to compete intelligently and make informed decisions.
Insightsfirst Competitive Intelligence (CI) – AI driven proprietary platform
- Competitive market watch, powered by AI/NLP engines
- Thought leadership and publication tracking, using scraping and text analytics
Knowledge Solutions from domain experts
- Competitive landscape analysis
- Industry factbooks – retail/institutional market
- Industry landscape analysis for intermediary distribution channels (brokers, advisors, etc.)
- Detailed competitor analysis and profiling
- Product benchmarking and white space analysis
- Brand assessment and positioning studies
- Powers up your competitive intelligence programs
- AI/NLP allows you to scale multi-fold
- Curated to specific requirements of departments (marketing, strategy, CIO office, etc.)
- Domain experts to provide additional intelligence and ensure zero noise
- Support to adopt a smarter and process-oriented approach to tracking competitors and collaborating internally (using newsletters, dashboards, alerts, etc.)