29 Dec 11 CI in 2012 – When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Happy new yearThis is the season for forecasting – looking at what the new year might bring… Not to be left behind, here are my two bits on what 2012 will bring for competitive intelligence practitioners in India.

World  economies are so intricately interconnected today, that it is not possible to talk about the business climate in India in isolation. And most of the rest-of-the-world is not expected to do too well next year. A possible collapse of the Euro zone is a scary prospect, but it cannot be dismissed. The US is doing a little better, but not enough to bring cheer.  Even the emerging economies such as India and China are faltering, though less so, than the developed countries.  Uncertainties in one part of the world are propagated globally in form of market sentiment and this in turn affects the “real” economy.

In India, in addition to the economic slowdown and inflationary pressures, the political situation is contributing to the lowering of business sentiment. The policy inertia of the government and its inability to “manage” politics to push ahead with the reforms agenda is the single largest cause for low business and investor sentiment.  Politics has become more critical for Indian businesses than it has been in the last few years.

What does this mean for companies in India? First, they will have many more developments and areas to keep track of. Early warning competitive intelligence will therefore become increasingly important.

Second, they will have to work harder to maintain their top lines and bottom lines. And what does working harder mean? It means coming up with smarter and better (than the competitors) strategies for raising funds, selling their services, delivering at a lower cost, and so on.  Superior competitive intelligence is certainly one of the ingredients required for this.

Ensuring that there are enough resources for the increased level of CI that will be required, will be tricky, as companies are likely to go into a cost-cutting mode. Further, it is always harder to establish the ROI for early warning CI than for strategic CI.

CI practitioners will therefore have learn to do more with less. While items such as travel and conferences may find less place on their agendas than before given their budget constraints, they cannot afford to cut down on hardcore CI. They will need to work smarter, faster and produce better analysis than before. Since CI is a new discipline in India, they will need to move up the learning curve very fast. Luckily, the SCIP India Chapter has been formed in time to facilitate interaction and learning.

What do YOU think 2012 will bring for CI in India?

Varsha Chitale

Varsha led the competitive intelligence practice at ValueNotes. As part of her drive to educate India Inc. on the merits of competitive intelligence, she often conducted webinars and seminars on CI for senior executives of Indian companies.

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