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Group of young businesspeople gathered in office for analyzing market. Economic uncertainty and competitive intelligence automation.

How does today’s economic uncertainty affect market and competitive intelligence automation initiatives?

As 2022 winds to a close, many macroeconomic uncertainties – driven by war in Ukraine, global inflation, stock market volatility, ongoing supply chain woes, and more – are affecting the business outlook for 2023.  A recent article in the Harvard Business Review, authored by Janet Balis, a consulting practice leader at Ernst & Young, addressed this uncertainty from the perspective of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) at large organizations who may face potential near-term budget pressures.

While the focus of Balis’s article is marketing broadly, several of her comments seem directly relevant to how organizations approach market and competitive intelligence (M&CI) and the knowledge management systems that support M&CI activities.

For instance, Balis notes that an economic downturn often precipitates a review of spending.  “Forward-leaning companies are quickly optimizing previously siloed budgets . . . and working to make sure pockets of spend aren’t trapped across disconnected parts of the organization,” she writes.

In the M&CI function specifically, such an exercise may identify redundant third-party research subscriptions held by several business units.  In that instance, it may be more economically efficient to restructure multiple departmental subscriptions into enterprise-wide subscriptions, accessible to all licensed users via an enterprise research portal that houses all the company’s research assets and maintains contractually negotiated access rights.

Similarly, primary research projects conducted in one geographic sector within an organization may be relevant to planners in another, but they have no visibility to it and thus undertake their own.  Once again, an enterprise research portal could be a useful tool to maximize the value of existing research assets, and eliminate redundant, costly efforts.

Separately, Balis addresses the subject of driving strategic technology investment across all aspects of the marketing function, enterprise-wide, during an economic downturn.  She argues that “CMOs, while known for nurturing the craft of marketing, must also be champions of disciplined use of data and technology . . . [and] continue to drive the right data strategy, build the right technology architecture . . . and drive adoption, so they can deliver meaningful economic value in the short and long term.”

Given the many various systems that touch a tech-savvy enterprise marketing operation, it may be both cost advantageous and logistically practical for the market and competitive intelligence function to adopt a SaaS solution for its automation needs.  Leveraging a M&CI SaaS solution has the benefit of not burdening an organization’s internal IT resources – often over-stretched, with long development queues – with yet another project, and one that internal IT may be particularly ill-suited to execute, given the range of content sources and third-party publishers’ systems that typically need to be integrated into an enterprise M&CI knowledge management system.

Beyond providing a mechanism to help control an organization’s research spend, it’s important to remember that knowledge management systems optimized for M&CI actually maximize the business and decision-making value of research assets – in other words, they contribute to the top- and bottom-lines of an organization’s financial statement.  The more research is easily accessible to more individuals throughout the enterprise, the more it is used; and the more impact it has, in any economic conditions.

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