Posted by: Madhavi CN | May 24, 2010

Market Research & Intelligence: Tracking Opportunities (Part 1)

Tracking The Right Markets & Services

Identifying opportunities for investment and growth had always been the basic hitch in any business. The significance only increases with regard to IT industry where time is measured in Internet years and changes sweep the market, resetting the entire business. The key lies in identifying technologies and markets that are most likely to keep the company growing and profitable.

The explosion in technology has changed the way customers buy and apply technology, and it has forever altered expectations about how technology can and should influence connectivity to customers, suppliers, and employees.

The Need 

First, we need a technology investment agenda that helps us identify the technologies to  invest in. We also need a parallel market strategy that tells us which market is ready or fading into obsolescence, and for what solution or technology. This would be the crux of any IT company that aspires to come out of the “also-ran” image to emerge as the “front-runner”. The combination of a sound technology plan with a shrewd market assessment and strategy is crucial for success and stabilization in the highly erratic business scenario.

Research & Market Intelligence

Research is not about just gathering data or the application of analysis to the explicit data and implicit information. The actual challenge lies in extracting business critical trends and using them in charting the success of the company.

Routine research projects, like, finding the percentage of Internet users in North America or the penetration of mobile technology in Europe, can hardly have any impact on the success of our product or service offering.

The key lies in transforming our offering to the market demand without forgoing the core competencies or business alignment while minimizing the risk involved. Hence the strategy must be extremely practical and relevant, else it is no strategy at all!

Guiding Principles 

Zeroing in on the right opportunity can be tough in the information-age, especially when there are so many technologies to track – and relatively little certainty about what our business models and processes will look like in the next couple of years.

The trick is to target the geared-up markets with the right services at the right time with a complete and incisive business plan supported by thorough market intelligence. The market analysis team needs to provide the relevant reports by conducting the research with the following in perspective:

BUSINESS MODEL: The Starting Point

The illustration of our predictions for future business models will help us avoid costly mistakes like missing some major market shifts that might enable whole new businesses – that our competitors might exploit.

COMMUNICATIONS: Speed Matters

We are in the midst of fundamental changes in the way we work and live. “Virtual” spaces are emerging and communications requirements are continuously growing, thereby changing the architectures. New communications requirements are driving the products and services. The access, connectivity, networking infrastructure, et al, are all factors that should not be missed while looking at application deployment. The communications industry is volatile and open, yet predefined in some important ways.

APPLICATIONS: What Customers Want

The trend is towards solutions-integration and the development of applications that will support business models and processes distributed across employees, customers, and suppliers. Customers need providers to offer end-to-end services in specific horizontal and vertical areas, which are gradually becoming hybrid. Targeting a new geography raises vital questions – direct presence, partnership, or reseller? The answers directly influence the service quality and investment; and in case of a third party they may bring in legal, IP rights and other complex business issues.

STANDARDS: Aligning the Application

Standards need to be looked at two angles – international and local. This factor would not only assess the market and development feasibility but also determines the possibility of extending it to other markets. Conformance to standards enables the longevity of the application and extends its marketability. The regulatory policy also has to be looked in the same vein.

INFRASTRUCTURE: Capability Vs. Opportunity

Planning, design, development, and support – all require superior computing and communications infrastructure to give the client the quality service as stated in the corporate vision/mission statements. The planned application/service (eg. healthcare packages, ERP, payroll, call centers) governs the optimal infrastructure required for developing and supporting it. Managers constantly struggle with balancing the need for newer and better applications, on the one hand, and on the other hand communications and computing infrastructure necessary to develop and support old and new applications.

The Key Features 

  • Market research assists in the development stage of any customer profiling/data base segmentation exercise by making sure the database contains the right data in the first place and the right database structure.
  • Market research can be a better solution to questions that require aggregated feedback – more diagnostic, more efficient, more cost effective, resulting in improved predictions.
  • Market research can prevent database analyses becoming expensive ‘fishing exercises’. The potential link between the sales and marketing activity and profitability is completely transparent so direct causality is clearly understood.

Market Research & Intelligence: Methodology (Part 2)

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