Competitive Intelligence: The key enabler of transient competitive advantage
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Competitive Intelligence: The key enabler of transient competitive advantage

By Swaroop Johnson and Ashish Mahalka

Competitive advantage, a classic theory in strategic management assumes the firm to outdo competition upon developing a set of resources and capabilities which satisfy the VRIO framework (V-Valuable, R- Rare, I-Inimitable, O-Organized to capture value).  In the age of transient competitive advantagecompanies have realized that it is difficult to build a sustainable advantage and are facing situations in which key capabilities are rapidly imitated, technology changes or customers seek cheaper and creative alternatives to move on. The unpredictability of consumer behavior and the digital revolution has made the industry look flat with ever reducing barriers to entry. Analytics enables a competitive edge

The digital economy has brought with it enormous quantities of data which are being generated far more easily and cheaply than ever before. In this volatile environment, fast-forward thinking organizations are recognizing data as a strategic asset and leveraging it to strengthen their competitive advantage. This has given rise to the new term “Competitive Intelligence” which supports strategic decision making by providing data, insights about products, customers, competitors and any aspect of the business environment. The number of tools, software and analytic techniques has made it possible to drill into huge volumes of data and come up with a sophisticated quantitative and statistical analysis, prediction or a classification/segmentation model. The process of developing data and analytic capabilities and using the analytic insights in the strategic decision is not a simple task and very few companies have been successful in their attempts. Leaders build up their analytic capabilities by investing in four things: data-savvy people, quality data, state of the art tools and processes and incentives that support analytical decision making.

Proven examples of analytical excellence

Exemplars of analytics are using new tools to identify their most profitable customers and offer them the right price, to accelerate product innovation, to optimize supply chains, and to identify the true drivers of financial performance. technology major used competitive intelligence to create a dynamic dashboard enabling it to manage its different operating channels. Being an industry that is under constant innovation and undergoing dynamic change where products and services are being phased out at a much faster pace, the dashboard taking into account sales and customer data across 30 geographic regions and over 100 key accounts provided a comparative overview of the sales managers in comparison to its top ten competitors. The model enabled the company to make efficient and speedy marketing decisions as to which products and marketing channels to focus on and also provided satisfaction levels for different sales channels and retailers in different geography to account managers.

The time is to get ahead of the curve

There is no doubt that companies need access to robust insights that only advanced analytics can deliver. There are nuggets of gold to be found. In such uncertain times when decision making has never been tougher, companies need to act now to get ahead of the curve.


  1. Transient Advantage, Rita McGrath, Harvard Business Review, June 2013 Sources:


Swaroop Johnson
Swaroop Johnson
Swaroop Initiates and leads a team of data scientists and consultants towards end to end product development using machine learning &natural language processing algorithms for...
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