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What strategic issues should your organization monitor?

In this blog, we'll explore the information you should be monitoring, how to gather competitive intelligence, and who can support you in building a strategic radar.

Disruption can take many forms. Here, we’re talking about events or conditions – internal or external – that might cause either a change to the annual strategic plan or even to the strategy itself.

We aim to use environment and horizon scanning to detect signs of disruption as early as possible to ensure a timely response.

Even better is achieving this without employing a legion of research analysts and enduring a three-month delay between an event occurring (or a condition being met) and realizing a strategic change is required.

In this blog, we'll explore the information you should be monitoring, how to gather competitive intelligence, and who can support you in building a strategic radar.


What should your organization be monitoring?

Primarily we want to focus on monitoring/scanning in two areas:

1. Market universe

2. Strategic universe


1. Market universe

We live and work in a fast-paced, complex world with fluid social, political, economic, cultural, and technological conditions that impact businesses of all sizes in all industries.

Keeping up with this rate of change can be highly challenging.

It means continuously tracking an ever-evolving fabric of industries, markets, competitors, customers, partners, analysts, and influencers.

We call this an organization’s “market universe”.


2. Strategic universe

The “strategic context” comprises the strategy itself and the strategic plan.

With it comes a minimum definition of strategic priority areas, strategic goals, and underlying strategic (plan) assumptions.

While the market universe will continuously evolve, the strategic context is set by either the planning horizon (perhaps 2-5 years on average) or the duration of the strategic planning cycle (traditionally twelve months in the sense of an annual strategic plan).


How to strategically scan your environment

With the market universe and strategic context identified, we can gather intelligence through human and machine research.

The process starts with identifying sources of intelligence.

Some are obvious, like a competitor’s website.

Others are less obvious such as regulatory bodies or industry analysts.

Sources might be free of charge, while others might require subscriptions.

Some examples include:


Leveraging these sources requires research analysts and market and competitive intelligence software.

Most organizations rely on both as both have distinct advantages and disadvantages.


Relying on research teams

Human researchers are thorough and able to separate actionable intelligence more easily from noise.

Human researchers have their disadvantages, though.

They are expensive compared with their software counterparts and not infinitely scalable to deal with the sheer number of sources and a vast amount of available intelligence.


Relying on software and AI?

Software, on the other hand, is inexpensive thanks to cloud technology.

However, the ability of the machine to separate intelligence from noise remains less-than-perfect (AI has an increasing role to play here).

For this reason, organizations increasingly rely on human analysis and the curation of machine-supplied research intelligence.


When environment scanning can prove invaluable

In the strategy realm, this information is critical in two areas:


1. Strategy creation

Creating a strategy starts with determining an organization’s position through external and internal assessment.

Environment and horizon scanning provide valuable insight into the external assessment.


2. Strategy implementation

When delivering the strategic plan, it is essential to identify any internal or external factors that might require course correction or even a pivot, either to the strategy or the strategic plan.

Typically, regular strategy reviews will discuss any available market and competitive intelligence.



Building your strategic radar

Here are three next steps to consider when building a radar to track your strategic environment:

1. Build a clear view of your market universe

2. Review your strategic context

3. Access market and competitive intelligence software



1. Build a picture of your market universe

Some stakeholder groups might be too large to tackle initially.

For example, start with just your significant customers.

It is worth checking to see whether there is already a market and competitive intelligence team in your Marketing organization.


2. Review your strategic context

Look at your strategy and strategic plan to identify and list individual risks, threats, and opportunities (not all disruption is negative).

Also, create a list of all the assumptions made in your strategy and strategic plan.

This combined list of strategic issues is all items that warrant monitoring.


3. Access market and competitive intelligence software

Both Forrester Research and G2 have comprehensive vendor information.

The software can go a long way toward establishing your strategic radar and ensuring you get early visibility of pending change and disruption.


Going beyond strategic scanning

With the importance and steps you can take to successfully scan your environment clearly, we can see how the likes of PESTEL, VRIO, and a Gap Analysis are tools that can be brought into a modern context.


Learn more about continuous strategy and strategy execution

Take the next steps in your journey to embracing continuous strategy by exploring our strategy execution resource hub or any of the below:

About the author

James Davies is i-nexus’ Chief Product Officer. As an experienced software executive with 20 years of experience working in Silicon Valley, USA, James has held senior leadership roles in three venture capital-backed software start-ups (including CEO, CPO, and Chairman). He has delivered management consulting services to some of the world’s largest technology companies.

If you’d like to talk more about the future of strategy execution, reach out to him on james.davies@i-nexus.com or connect with James on LinkedIn for the latest insights