Organized Effort to Obtain Key Information – #65

Key Management Learning focuses on the need to know as many happenings in the industry as possible. That means that your Senior Management has to keep it’s ears to the ground and be willing to view the future through various lenses- such as Trade & Commerce Group meetings, reading two to three Newspapers a day ( Suggestion – WSJ, New York Times, Chicago Tribune and other Key publications from around the world that would pertain to your industry). There are services (Digital makes this easier and possible) that will provide needed information every time your company or your top five competitors are mentioned in various sources.  Each level of management must demand from their reports both positive and negative news.

Full transparency has to be a standard with deviations reported to the HR Dept. – in addition, a person has to be appointed as the key recipient of the information from all the sources to include employees – your best source of information, due to the immense power of their individual networks. This person should publish a weekly summary of all submissions and e-mail it out to all employees and managers, and report directly to the CEO and the Board.  You now have a dedicated INTERNAL – INTRANET which has 80% of the key info on the industry at its fingertips, but nobody asks for it and they are not about to volunteer information that nobody seems to have an interest in. The individual can be a Communications major at one of the many “great schools” that is willing to work part-time if the job does not require a full-time person.

Let me share a personal experience: I worked for Kirk-Tyson a competitive intelligence provider born from the need to know competitor’s activities during the AT&T breakup. During the 80’s, I landed the largest contract in the history of the firm as a result of the following: Met the NEW person just appointed to be the -Competitive Intelligence Director at AMOCO – at the monthly dinner meeting of the local competitive intelligence club where I would prospect for new leads for the firm. We were a hit right from the start!

Found out that she had an objective to establish a Competitive Intelligence Center at AMOCO.  Why? Because AMOCO was falling behind in numerous areas such as quick-marts vs. efficient uses of repair bays, sources of supply, information on competitor’s new product strategies and total research efforts. She needed help!

Without continuing with all my activities from my new 13thFloor office in the Amoco building, I soon verified that they had all (90%) the information they needed right in the company, and they really needed to take advantage of what the Digital Revolution and Change could do for them through a new approach to handling data.  For example, The Logistics & Global Trading Center was a few floors below and at any given moment they knew where every drop of oil was in the world. Plus they could identify the type of oil, the source, shipping info, specific global prices and the country that owned the oil. Yet very few people at Amoco, if any, knew that this level of info was available to facilities around the world. We added that info to our new information data base with a direct feed to key users with a need for this info. No longer did we need monthly trips to the refineries in Indiana and Galveston TX, to get the latest information being generated through them.

As I was leaving Amoco, now BP OIL returning to GBC after 10 months, I knew the $2.5MM that Amoco spent on an INTRANET and the establishment of a CIC was recovered in savings over a very short period of time, and eventually resulted in a merger where BP OIL was the surviving brand name.

There is too much competitive data available, as we gain sophistication in equipment and software.  In many cases the overkill on data results in confusion and the inability to put this data to work for you or your managers.  The need for vitally important information to be organized and communicated is a must. What role in profit generation can a simple but hard-hitting INTRANET play?  If communications can and should be improved between all areas regarding competition and market opportunities, then get an INTRANET capability established quickly.

We take great pride in our contribution to AMOCO and BP OIL’S success. Especially, Amoco for their early recognition of organized value of data, which today is just coming into vogue. There are all kinds of pluses to the establishment of an INTRANET.  With the first plus, being ahead of competition in serving your Customer

If we can increase GP% by 3%, our efforts and costs will be easily justified.