“Knowledge has become the key economic resource and the dominant, if not the only, source of competitive advantage.” – Peter F. Drucker
Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per year participating in industry conferences, trade shows, and seminars. While your company may be maximizing your sales efforts at these events, a conference or trade show may be the single best place to collect market and business information that can be developed into competitive intelligence. Because industry players – competitors, suppliers, customers, regulators, potential partners, gurus – are all gathered in one location, you can learn about customer needs, emerging technologies, government directions, competitor plans, how to compete in specific markets, and more at a fraction of the cost of traditional research methods.
“If there’s a more ‘target-rich environment’ for the collection of competitive information, I’ve never seen one.” – John Nolan
Making the most of each intelligence gathering event requires careful planning and preparation whether attending as a team or going solo. Working smart at the show requires focus, organization, and seizing opportunities. Determining if a particular conversation is elicitation or merely an innocent question can be very difficult to tell. Ultimately, it makes no difference in one’s need to be cautious and aware of what can and cannot be said. Working the show smart means being aware that competitors are as interested in you as you are in them.
In upcoming blog posts, I’ll cover Key Intelligence Topics (KITs), Rules of the Game, The Interview – Art & Science, and Protecting the “Family Jewels” While Scouting the Competition.
The approach I used was to develop a bottom-up market forecast for each of the twenty major device types aggregated into a data-driven forecast for the component’s total addressable market.Read More
Northwestern University Athletics is using Facebook to poll fans on its basketball court redesign. Most of the responding fans are voting for an all-purple court (NU’s colors are purple and white.) It is hard to imagine traditionalists and players seeing this as an advantage. Viewed on ESPN it would probably seem to many as the visual equivalent of the vuvuzela. Is this a smart way to use social media to engage fans, to generate interest and obtain feedback? On Facebook, the crowd is self-selective. With just 200 “likes” on the Facebook page (out of hundreds of thousands of actual fans and paying spectators), outliers with the largest megaphones can drive buzz and appear to sway opinion, just like one spooked cow can start a stampede.
The advantages of a representative sample are well-known. So how can we crowd-sample? Here are a few firms that find the “right crowd.”
- Trada builds specialized crowds that help companies create and improve ad campaigns on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
- The University of Oxford hired Chaordix to create a custom-made crowd to help them brainstorm ways to reduce maternal mortality in developing countries.
- To tap expertise outside the company, Medtronic relies on Innocentive, which offers “challenge driven innovation”. Companies anonymously describe technical challenges to which members of a “global community” submit bids. A company then decides whether to option the proffered solution.
- Big Idea Group’s Insight Clubs are private, online consumer communities of 50 to 300 members focused on uncovering innovation opportunities in products, services and marketing for its clients.
Experiments show the “social influence effect” causes us to adjust our thinking to the feedback of the crowd by mindlessly imitating each other. As we become increasingly networked, the vocal crowd seems to speak for the group, yet may mean less. It is important to know how the “crowd” fits in with the rest of a population or community, or you could end up with a purple people eater.
Could crowdsourcing be a viable alternative to a focus group?Read More
In a short four part blog we will discuss how crowdsourcing can be a part of an overall plan to foster technological advancement, design products, research markets and sell to consumers.Read More
With the introduction of 3D TVs in early 2010, TV manufacturers hyped the new technology with the hope of stimulating consumer demand. Yet annual sales of 3D-capable TV sets were lukewarm at best. It is estimated that 3.4 million 3D sets were sold worldwide in 2010, accounting for just 1.2% of the total worldwide flat-panel TV shipments.(1) Samsung Electronics estimates 1 million 3D sets were sold in the US in 2010, abysmally short of the 3 million to 4 million the company initially forecast. Fewer than 1% of US households have a 3D-capable HDTV, while 61% have at least one high def TV set.(2) Mass-market consumers were put off by the heavy glasses, big price tag, and lack of decent content.
But the major players still see depth. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, practically every HDTV manufacturer announced that 3D is a big deal for them in 2011. A slew of new product offerings is aimed at shutting down the skeptics and naysayers.
- New technology glasses. TV manufacturers like LG Electronics and Vizio, among others, introduced light polarized 3D glasses, called passive glasses. But they only work with LCD TVs that have an extra layer to the screen. Panasonic is sticking to active glasses, which are bulky, pricey ($150 a pop) glasses that produce a 3D image by using LCD lenses to rapidly dim one lens, then the other, so your eyes see slightly different images. Further out, Toshiba has developed an “autostereoscopic” consumer 3D TV, which requires no headgear. But the sets are considerably more expensive compared to glasses-based 3D TV and require that viewers sit fairly still – tough in a home environment.
- Aggressive pricing. For most of 2010, you couldn’t buy a 3D TV for less than $1300 for a 40-inch set. Between the set and the glasses, consumers were looking at spending $600 more for a 3D set than a comparable 2D-only set. In 2011, Panasonic, Vizio, Sony, LG, and Samsung all are releasing 3D TVs at many price points. Even a bargain-basement consumer will have no problem buying a new 3D TV.
- More content. TV manufacturers and broadcasters are ramping up their 3D content. The 3D network joint venture of Discovery Communications, Sony and IMAX announced “3net”, a 24-hour 3D channel set to debut in early 2011. HBO is launching its 3D video-on-demand service with Comcast and Verizon’s FiOS TV among its takers. Sony and two TV broadcasters are introducing Japan’s first 3D drama series.
The 3D TV market penetration rate is forecast to grow from 5% of total flat panel TVs in 2010 to 37% in 2014.(3) Buying a 3D HDTV set-up today is an expensive and potentially risky proposition. Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, said there was still much consumer confusion surrounding 3D TV. What will it take to sell the next wave on 3D?
(1,3) DisplaySearch; (2)Leichtman Research Group
Consumers increasingly seek out and are often willing to pay a premium for “All natural” and “organic” products. Yet, these terms are often not precisely defined. When it comes to “organic” and “natural”, it’s all about the label.Read More
As promised, I’ll share my trick to sizing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill with previous catastrophes is working with different units.
Self-interest plays a role in how previous spills and the BP gusher are reported. Amounts in gallons look MUCH BIGGER than amounts in barrels…and weight in tonnes look MUCH SMALLER than weight in pounds. What about those liquid measures and weights? How to compare the two? Many don’t bother to do the math.
To compare these two statements, you need to convert their numbers into equivalent units.
- “In June 1979 the exploratory oil well Ixtoc 1 suffered a blowout and wasn’t capped until it had released 461,000 tonnes of oil in total”
- “Current projections [as of June 15] estimate Deepwater Horizon’s discharge at 35,000 to 60,000 barrels [of oil] per day.”
- Convert weights and liquid measures into a common unit. (average of Mexican, California and Texan crude weight = 315 pounds/barrel; 6.98 barrels/tonne)
- Review high and low estimates of Deepwater Horizon spill/day from multiple sources – BP, US Dept of Interior, National Incident Command, Woods Hole (Low: BP 20,000 barrels/day to High: National Incident command 60,000 barrels/day). Remove outliers.
- Ixtoc 1 released 3,217,783 barrels of oil in 1979.
- It is worth noting that as of this posting, the final Deepwater Horizon tallies are not yet in.
Click here for couple of other things of interest along those lines. Scott Brown, thank you for the suggestion (scott@ socialinformationgroup.com).
Over the last 50 years, offshore drilling spills, including the Deepwater Horizon, have unleashed a little more than approximately 6.4 million barrels; tanker accidents have spilled 25.4 million barrels. Tanker oil spills occur more frequently and release more oil than offshore drilling accidents, by a wide margin.Read More