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  • Arik Johnson 6:54 pm on March 5, 2009 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: , business-intelligence, China, , , , , ,   

    China Competitive Intelligence Software International Summit – Beijing PRC – Live Blog Meeting Notes 

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    I am honored and delighted to serve as the Chairman of The 1st China Competitive Intelligence Software International Summit produced by the China Institute of Competitive Intelligence in Beijing PRC.

    I’ll be live-blogging the meeting throughout the day today – Friday 6 March 2009 – beginning directly after my own keynote presentation to start the meeting. My slides are embedded below or if you’d like a PDF version click here to download. If you have questions about how to implement these ideas at your organization, please send me an email.

    Unfortunately, the next speaker, Prof. Wang Yuefen from Nanjing University of Science and Technology gave her very visually interesting presentation in Chinese, so I only caught about half a percent of it, but she went into all of the top CI software vendor apps over the years, ranging from Autonomy to TRS and other apps like 365Agent and Goonie… wish I could share more.

    Break for lunch – really delicious noodle soup and veggies! Back to work…

    My good friend and Aurora WDC business partner, Gabriel Anderbjörk, chairman of Comintell, the CI software company, gave a presentation entitled “Developing a World Class Implementation Process – Ensuring Maximum ROI from Intelligence Software“.

    Gabriel talked about how the value of CI is really a function of the change in revenue at any given decision point due to any given information element plus the change in cost at that decision point due to the same information element.

    But most companies try to force CI software into solving a poorly defined problem – simply asking the question “why are we doing this?” can be a powerful way to think through the purpose of CI software in the first place. The first two of the three prerequisites for information value are straightforward, but the third was surprising:

    1. Timing (and the fact that old information tends to grow stale and lose value);
    2. Relevance (ensuring information being delivered can really make a difference); and
    3. Competence of the Receiver (it cannot be taken for granted that users know what they’re doing).

    The three components of a capable CI program are the perspective, orgranization and process of the system, a technology platform to organize and automate everything and the training necessary for all of the users to make sure they are competently applying the tools and techniques. To the question of “why are we doing this?” (simply deciding others are doing it and they’re playing catchup isn’t enough) must be added the questions “who will use the tool?” (having clear target groups defined) and “how will they use the tool?” (content, functionality and interoperability).

    There are two determinants of information needs – the environment and the strategy. But the biggest problem with strategy is that, nobody knows what the strategy is, usually because it’s a big, fat secret! As a result the company cannot entrust employees to work better with competitive intelligence – how could they if they don’t know what to even concentrate their efforts on?!

    But the number one problem of CI and technology is ensuring usage and impact of analyzed information. Gabriel shared a few quotes from 1980′s Competitive Strategy to show us how Michael Porter felt about intelligence and software:

    • “It is unlikely that data to support a full competitor analysis could be compiled in one massive effort. The data… usually comes in trickles rather than rivers and must be put together over a period of time to yield a comprehensive picture of the competitor’s situation.”
    • “Compiling the data for a sophisticated competitor analysis probably requires more than just hard work. To be effective, there is a need for an organized mechanism – some sort of competitor intelligence system – to ensure that the process is efficient.”
    • “Whatever the mechanism chosen for competitor intelligence gathering, there are benefits to be gained from one that is formal and involves some documentation is all too easy for bits and pieces of data to be lost, and the benefits that come only from combing these bits and pieces thereby foregone. Analyzing competitors is too important to handle haphazardly.”

    Most companies fail at CI not because they don’t understand how to see differences in their environment but because they don’t know what the generic status quo situation looks like to compare those changes to. They spend all their time looking at the ad hoc issues and opportunities and forget to keep watching the generic continuous defined trends.

    Ad hoc needs to then eventually go continuous over time. So, when implementing software it’s most important to begin with the generic trends monitoring because the big, quick returns will also come more quickly even as it engages everyone in the company on topics they understand.

    But, how can we help computers understand our market environment? Comintell uses a model called “Dimensions of Business” – simply put, the perspective put on the business taxonomy – Markets, Customers, Products and Competitors are mapped out for the taxonomy to govern the entire system. Gabriel shared a war story about how one of his company’s (anonymous, of course) customers went about determining what a competitor was going to do in a particular SE Asian country; about six months later a colleague was asked if they’d heard anything about it and of course was met with indignation that headquarters could possibly know more than the field office. However, the following day, the colleague checked into it and was flabbergasted that, not only were they in the market, they were part of a consortium and they didn’t have a clue. The point is, the intersection of markets and customers and products and competitors is where possibilities start to appear – but if the dimensions are not known, they can’t be monitored very effectively.

    Next, implementation itself (by the way, 80 percent in and Gabriel’s demonstrated how the most part of the CI software implementation process is actually the preparation before any implementation ever takes place). Three steps to implementation – mapping system requirements, installation and setup of the system itself and the training and release of the system to first users.

    What’s the biggest roadblock to the whole implementation process? IT doesn’t have the server ready. ;-)

    Training and release is another critical phase – and the release is not the END of the process it’s the beginning of the business process – the time when you should start recovering your investment costs. That’s why it’s so important to prepare for a launch project – and that could be as many as two years long to really get right – it’s simple though – it boils down to communicating the presence of these investments to users… pretty easy to get right, and just as easy to get wrong. Launch actions include naming the system, defining roles, assigning ambassadors, doing training and internal webinars, feedback forms and support, providing news on the site and also make it entertaining – Gabriel’s first implementation at Ericsson featured the “Snake” game that was about to appear on Nokia’s next line of mobile phones.

    Many of Comintell’s clients have used various names to get the system labelled and the word spread throughtout the company – “Compass”, “BizKit”, “Market Intelligence Xchange”, “Market Information Centre” – all are attempts at branding simply to help the system succeed by having people use it. Gabriel wrapped up with Darwin’s classic quote – “It is not the stronest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, it is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

    Jay Kurtz from KappaWest Management Consultants, also a partner of my company’s Aurora WDC, took over after Gabriel for the remainder of the day with a presentation called “Linking Business Wargaming to Intelligence Tasking and Topic Definition for Corporate CI Systems“. Jay described how wargaming is a critical simulation skill for organizations to be able to see the same situation from another perspective – it looks at three “lines of force” - what your company plans and does, what your competitors plan and do (since your plans could end either in success or in complete failure under various circumstances and behavior of competitors, direct, indirect and in new forms), but also the “uncontrollables” or forces we cannot necessarily influence.

    Jay described the alternatives of planning based on the Red Path vs. the Green Path: Red Path planning involves taking all of the known elements of the organization and its resources and then planning for the future reality that might face the firm; Green Path planning does just the opposite by taking the future reality the company expects (through wargaming as a technique) to make a plan to be implemented in the form of designing the organization and resources.

    For example, Poland felt extremely comfortable riding horses and planned for the last war – so they had the world’s most powerful cavalry… right before the outbreak of World War II… which, of course, did them no good.

    With four levels of planning, wargaming can  be focused on any level of the company. Strategy focuses on what we want to accomplish, tactics focus on how the firm will accomplish those plans. Doing all the right things makes you effective (and ineffective if you do the wrong things), if you are doing all the things right, you’ll be efficient (and inefficient if you do things wrong). Victory goes to those who do the right things and do things right, but any less that top effectiveness in either dimension means that you will either die or merely survive. But when times change, victory in the past can turn to liabilities in the future.

    After a wargame, the After Action Report is used to develop plans to succeed based on the likely behavior of the participants who embodied various competitors and other actors… these plans are then executed. When to use a wargame? Whenever external indicators are showing the big picture environment has started changing, whenever internal indicators are showing old strategies aren’t working anymore or whenever the strategic plan needs updating, testing of new strategies planning for major projects or programs (M&A, NPD, New Biz Dev), or when worst case scenarios need to be examined, major bidding opportunities arise or simply to make the team work better together.

    Wargame “hard” deliverables are to catalog key lessons learned, develop recommendations for changes in strategy/ops/tactics, develop contingency plans and surface critical intel gaps, but “soft” deliverables are improved team work, less “silo mentality”, improve decision making and planning. Typical teams include, the “home” team (your company), competitor(s) teams, market/customer team, channel team, umpire team, support team, “x” or “wildcard” teams (who often develop the most brilliant strategies) and, of course, the facilitator team.

    It is critical that top executives participate in wargames because the output is such a shock to them that they realize how out of touch they’ve been. The future reality is changing and it’s much more credible when they experience it rather than have somebody else tell them about it.

    Various implementation teams after the wargame process is complete will be focused on what must now be done by whom and when to transform the findings into action. The “menu” of business wargaming tools include Market & Competitive Maps, Decision Maps, Probability/Impact Grids, Risk Profiles, Silver Bullet Analyses, Force Field Diagrams and Delphi Studies.

    For example, interpreting the market/competitor map can tell us the status of the market and whether it’s going to be growing or will be a red herring that we’ll invest in without success. It allows a competitor to “triage” its way to clear leadership in selected markets where its advantages match the growth opportunities – companies can decide then which market segments need Immediate Concentrated Attention, Delayed Secondary Attention, and which the company should Ignore or Abandon. If there were teams all considering these factors, then they could ultimately make decisions about how to ally with other competitors to predict the outcome more effectively.

    Jay finished by showing some cases of real companies using wargames – financial software, nicotine patches, cellular phone services, biotech (which told them whatever they would do they were guaranteed failure), defense systems procurement – and, indeed, it’s much better to die in a wargame than in real life. But it’s also a nice outcome to be able to know you’re going to win instead of lose.

    There ends Day One – good show everybody – we’ve got software demonstrations tonight before dinner…

    (More …)

     
  • Arik Johnson 8:50 pm on November 13, 2008 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: China, CICI, , , Shanghai   

    Opening Keynote at CICI Shanghai: Joe Goldberg, President of SCIP and Senior Director of Corporate Intelligence at Motorola, President of Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals 

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    Find more photos like this on Competitive Intelligence

    My good friend, Dr. Qihao Miao, as conference chair, opened with remarks about how the conference looks very promising and introduced Mr. Joe Goldberg, SCIP President, to keynote the conference. Joe gave the usual glad-handing and greetings from the board and so on, then got to the new international strategy of “One SCIP” and how that applies to China. Here’s my synopsis of his remarks:

    The critical issue facing intelligence professionals today is SPEED. The time to make an impact is narrowing between the production and processing of CI and the ability to have an influence on the course of the enterprise. The “Time Between Surprises” is now shorter than the it takes to make decisions – this novel idea of metrics between the quarterly pressure of investor results and the fear of being surprised in a global environment make 5-year, 3-year or 18-month visions obsolete; today, intelligence foresight is defined by weeks.

    During the current environment and financial climate, things like wargames and scenarios and benchmarking are far less influential; instead the focus has moved to shorter-term insights and the ability to navigate and maneuver more immediately – the luxury of long-range planning is no longer as relevant – this is Joe’s fundamental critique and recommendation for improvement. (Great observations, by the way – this is one of the best speeches on the topic I’ve heard in a long time!)

    Synthesis alone is insufficient as the means by which to add value through CI – the ability to offer alternatives and recommendations for courses of action is more relevant as the requirement for speed shifts the core value for intelligence from analysis toward timeliness. Our work will have maximum value only if it can avoid the element of surprise for leaders and policy makers.

    Speed is also the single key stressor in the practice of CI and may strain our objectivity and cause us to ignore the standards by which we conduct CI. Simplicity is the antidote – what are the best products, how do we deliver them, are we structured properly? These are the key questions CI must grapple with – not the more complicated, labor-intensive “insights” – complexity is the enemy of speed. (Dang, was that your own quote Joe? That’s going in my next newsletter.)

    The ultimate role of intelligence then is to provide wisdom – speed makes it difficult but that doesn’t make it any less necessary.

    The basic usability of our materials simply isn’t good enough and needs a tremendous amount of improvement by everyone involved – it is not as actionable when communicated poorly – but improving the quality and accuracy of intelligence products will make an immediate impact on the use and application of intelligence in the modern business enterprise. We must make our intelligence “effortless” to read, understand and take action on.

    The “intelligence mosaic” is what makes up our intelligence consumers’ environment of awareness – inputs come loosely and disconnected from everywhere – family, the media, friends, colleagues and we must as intelligence professionals augment this and help it make sense to them when decisions are on the line. Information might flow freely but intelligence context is hidden within this information mosaic – end-users think of us as only one source in this mosaic and processes their decisions differently. Joe’s office refers to their habit of being “constructively annoying” – fighting through the fog of the info glut to have an impact alongside all the other sources end-users use to deploy intelligence findings in their work.

    How do these observations impact business in an era of financial crisis such as today? Intelligence will either be cut, or worse, ignored. Intelligence will be tasked with evaluating the real-time issues of business – financial analysis on suppliers, customers, VC investments and other forces will help demonstrate intelligence value to users.

    These are the realities of today – SPEED, TIMELINESS, SIMPLICITY – and there will always be a place for insight and analysis and the realities will cycle back, but in the meantime, we must adapt of be made irrelevant. Joe has confidence in our abilities to help decision makers meet their challenges.

    I had the first question – woot: “So we must be more tactical with the understanding that strategic deliverables simply must wait. But HOW do we do that? What specifically are YOU doing to get that done day-to-day?”

    Here’s Joe’s GREAT answer to my hardball question:

    None of the products they produce are longer than one page – and must be immediate in their scope and important to getting the job done THAT WEEK – really no farther out than that. The heresies of the short term be damned (I’m paraphrasing) – that’s what they really need now but still trying to decide how to keep the longer-term topics that are so important in the mix – “cash” being king, that might be it – but the important thing is not how long but what is the topic. The selective hearing about the long-range issues dictates that decision-makers just won’t listen to stuff longer than one page.

    Dr. Tao Jin from LSU was next with a question on the current financial crisis – “Was the current credit crisis a failure of intelligence?”

    Answer: Not in his opinion as intelligence practitioners cannot get absorbed in something so overly broad as the international financial system.

    Question: “What does Joe do now to adapt to the changing circumstances?”

    Answer: Are we adding value? If we have an idea, we get together as a group and one person would write it up, the rest would review it and then put it out. It used to be they generated 70 percent of the topics they wrote about; today, they are responding almost 100 percent to things top management are looking for RIGHT NOW!

    Kent Potter takes the stage. Topic is the Implications of Financial Crisis to Chinese Companies Interested in Doing Business in the U.S. At the moment, we have a “firesale” on U.S. assets – China lacks the brand-value of American companies but has the capital and reasons ($1.6 trillion reasons) to acquire those turnkey assets cheaply. But there is a backlash in the form of protectionism against countries like China and on the global integration of world markets. Kent believes that good CI can help even there – who are the people building this lobby against free markets. CI can help put their best case forward.

    The key point of the whole talk is that BRAND is almost never a key reason for an M&A deal but should be particularly for the Chinese. Then went into the classical steps for a successful merger or acquisition, but a key piece is missing: organizational culture. The reason most M&A deals fail is because of culture – how does the other company operate and make choices versus that of the other company on the other half of the deal?

    DaimlerChrysler is used as the example: Kent had a client there so he knows them well, but almost all of the trouble they had in the integration and ultimate failure of the integration was due to the culture clash between the Germans and the Americans. Hewlett-Packard (another client of Kent’s) bought Compaq and only recently was able to turn the buyout around and make it successful at the expense of a lot of pain and lost market share. References the speed problem Joe focused on and said that being in too big a hurry is the root cause of many of the culture problems that cause the deal to fail.

    Solution to all this is the ability to integrate the decision making styles of executive management, which will facilitate the success in the other areas of potential risk or trouble. Likewise, understanding the probable reaction of surrounding companies, markets and other forces to the tie-up transaction must be considered before the deal is done.

    Because either lawyers or accountants are involved in the evaluation due diligence, a problem arises: paraphrasing Drucker – the inside of a company consists of only costs, the opportunity to make money only exists outside and therefore the big upside opportunity is lost when the external view is lost.

    Question: Is it more difficult for a U.S. company to acquire in China or for a Chinese company to acquire an American one?

    Answer: (A little impolitic since it’s basically illegal in China for U.S. companies to buy Chinese ones…) Kent focused on the Chinese acquisition of U.S. companies (since there’s no answer the other direction) it’s fairly easy for a non-strategic U.S. asset to be acquired by a Chinese company, but strategic ones will get lots of Capitol Hill oversight and potential interference (ref, CNOOC and Chevron).

    Kelvin Zhang was all in Mandarin but the slides looked interesting… nonetheless, definite language barrier – I didn’t really get any of it.

    Panel Discussion with the following speakers from today – (did I mention I was in the front row?)

    • Qihao Miao
    • Holger Meissner
    • Joe Goldberg
    • Kelvin Zhang
    • Kent Potter
    • Tao Jin

    Holger was first to talk about the life sciences industry, his focus, and answered Qihao Miao’s question about how CI can help during an economic downturn – Joe asked about the time horizon in life sciences being years, rather than months… comments in response to these questions was centered on staying nimble as a CI team and dealing with the trends in the industry – that outsourcing has risen up to make pharma/biotech companies more flexible. Miao asked about the influence on R&D pipeline because of the absence of P/E ratio measurements due to the pipeline – Holger replied that pipeline was the key issue with the ability to project their decline as generics start to eat away at the indication. Prices are making money tighter and CI becomes very important to understand where competitors are at in development when moving from Phase II to Phase III. Holger used to work for Bayer for 20 years and was asked about his thoughts in response to what the company needs to do today.

    Joe Goldberg addressed Miao’s message by responding that it was all about value and everything they write gets circulated in order to have a “seat at the table” – except that table of top management is a pretty nasty place to be… in response to the whole strategy admonition… intelligence people are relevant if they’re doing relevant things for their company, not if they’re “being strategic”. Joe emphasizes that it’s not about writing the best product or looking smart or fancy – it’s about value – helping the company make money while he delights his customer. You don’t need to be at the CEO’s office, though Joe’s group has been since the beginning – but trying to obtain that level of influence often gets in the way of producing value – and eventually the boss starts to ask “what do you exactly do again?” which is a REALLY bad question to have asked.

    Question about ROI and how to measure value – Kent took over – during a downturn as the shift goes toward tactical rather than strategic questions – it’s easier to measure impact on the tactical results – Joe grabbed it back and said, the reason he went door to door to ask users questions is because he has no other feedback mechanism.

    Tactical versus strategic is really emerging as the topic of the day here…

    Tao Jin (CI professor I had dinner with last night from LSU in Baton Rouge) asked about quantitative ways to measure value – Joe says is really a lot softer than that – a qualitative response is the best he has – are his users satisfied. The real quantitative value is “what would you have spent to obtain that piece of intelligence” and that’s the value – however, if they zero, then you’re in trouble.

    Kelvin Zhang took over answering the question… but in Chinese… alas, my Mandarin is about a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10. Sorry. Mr. Miao said that he commented on how during the downturn it’s sometimes a good time to skill up their CI group. Sounds good to me..

    Question about counter-intelligence – Joe says there’s a need to create awareness throughout the company, but that the electronic authenticity of sources is a big issue and the frontier of the future.

    Kent jumped in and talked about two changes – what practitioners are doing must shift from the protective and defensive (competitor-focused) rather than winning the company money – sales driven exercises, for example. The need to partner with marketing and sales people – he mentioned Miller-Heiman decision mapping for sales processes – and CI people. The other change is in the government’s role – for the first time in Kent’s knowledge, since the USA has taken on substantial capital assets and around the world central governments have become owners of businesses in a big way – perhaps, there will be a reversal of the poisonous issues of economic policy being connected with economic intelligence. (ed: Quite a shift!)

    Question about CI software – in Chinese, awaiting translation… what kind of software does Joe use at Motorola? Nothing – Word and their brains. What separates intelligence people from everyone else is our passionate curiosity – by reading something and being immediately unsatisfied by what is read and compelling that person to learn what’s behind the story. The critical skill is, communicating – and being able to be concise, a better writer, succinct and clearly explain a complex topic in a very simple way.

    I tossed out the “Made to Stick” book which grabbed Joe and he launched into the principles (we’d just been chatting this morning about how much he loved the book) and that was it – Obama as the example – “Change we can believe in” and “yes we can” – these simple ideas that people just get and get behind.

    Tao Jin gave many comments about “human factors” – again in Chinese, but I think I’m starting to get better at picking out a few key words – anyhow, supporting Joe’s earlier comments, it’s not about software or technology but about people and how they react to ideas and information. Whoa – I heard “John Prescott” and “APQC”!

    So, time’s up, break for lunch… good stuff and had a nice follow up with Joe and a few others on his thoughts from this morning.

    After lunch, they made half an hour for a little rest and then started back up around 2:00 – I sat in on the English language classroom – there was an all Chinese down the hall – and Holger Meissner was first from Adler, then Keith Ruark from AVOS – both focused on healthcare, pharma, biotech and life sciences – pretty interesting overall but I didn’t blog it directly – mostly about how healthcare is reinventing itself and how CI is done or should be done. Then, stayed for the English language panel on the changing world of CI. Here’s the rundown from the CI China website:

    Interactive Roundtable Sessions:

    2:00 PM-3:00 PM

    English sessions

    Chinese sessions

    Building World Class Business & Competitive Intelligence in China
    Holger Meissner
    ADLER-LS President,
    Former Head of Global Competitive Intelligence with Bayer HealthCare LLC.
    Building CI system for Chinese Fortune 500 Company
    Biaofeng Chen
    China famous CI expert
    Former scout of Shanghai Municipal Police Station

    5 min for comment presentation by session chair  10 min for Q&A for audience

    3:00 PM-4:00 PM

    The Pharma CI using in USA
    Keith Ruark
    Global CI Expert
    AVOS Life Sciences Founder Partner
    Keith has 14+ years experience in the healthcare industry
    The 10 Steps to Selecting the Right CI Software for china user
    Lily Liu
    China CI Expert
    20 years IT working experience.
    Former market promotion director of Autonomy More consulting experience for CI system

    5 min for comment presentation by session chair  10 min for Q&A for audience

    Panel Discussions:

    4:00PM-5:00 PM

    English sessions

    Chinese sessions

    The Changing World of CI

    Kent Potter Kelvin Zhang
    Keith Ruark   Holger Meissner

    Is there any difference Between CI professionals work in reality:across Canada and China
    Tao Jin    Qihao Miao    Biaofeng Chen
    Benjamin Feng CHEN    Lily Liu

    Exhibition for trade visitors:

    All of CI experts Solve Day-to-Day Problems for audiences

    5:30PM-7:30 PM

    Exhibition for trade visitors
    Networking & Consulting in Exhibition Hall

     
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