Yesterday saw me taking a day trip to Washington DC for the SCIP DC meeting on “New Ways of Knowing 2.0” run by the admirable August Jackson. This event was a workshop format and included brief overviews from Suki Fuller and Eric Garland.
For those interested, you can follow the synopsis and live Twittering of the event using the #scipdc code in Twitter search. The discussion was lively and the audience, from a variety of fields, were engaged and interested to learn about new tools and ideas that they could apply to their competitive intelligence work. There was, inevitably, a large focus on Twitter, what it is and how you can use it effectively.
For me, I was curious to see how many other Competitive Intelligence professionals are using social media and cloud tools in their workflow and to gather relevant data. There was also a bonus as several interesting ideas cropped up during the workshop and stimulated my own thinking further. The first was asymmetry of information, the second was playmaking and how both can influence marketing strategy. These ideas piqued some long lost thoughts I had from reading some excellent books such as Daniel Pink’s ‘A Whole New Mind’ about how right brain thinking will dominate in the information age and Don Tapscott’s treatise on ‘Grown up Digital’. If you haven’t read either book, I would highly recommend them.
Much of the discussion yesterday kept circulating back to the impact of Gen X/Y versus Baby Boomers, and how the latter are often stuck in traditional models such as SWOTs, Porter’s 5 Forces etc, whereas those from the Digital Age are more likely to embrace new ideas and the use of technology in ways the Boomers could never imagine:
my son often reminds me, the future is now.“
Don Tapscott, Grown Up Digital
The digital age is indeed a-changing the landscape. Just as breaking news is rapidly changing with community and citizens snapping events as they happen in real time on their iPhones, in many ways, CI is also at the forefront of this vanguard. August, Suki and Eric demonstrated this with their adoption and use of cool new internet tools to help them find and process relevant information then analyse and shape it into a story or pattern that enables the user to recognise data to support a notion of strategic analysis and intent. Ultimately, valid reliable information, whether gleaned from traditional market research or online tools, is key because it allows you to forecast and shape the future.
The big question is can you gain a competitive advantage and do it faster and quicker than your competitors?
In the old world, asymmetry of information and hence control of that information was much more prevalent. In the new world, the internet provides a much faster and more transparent data set for those enlightened enough to recognise the changing order. CI professionals who can find and utilise this data, essentially re-create a more balanced world since everyone has access to Google and a huge wealth of information accessible in the public domain, including sources such as Twitter. Out of chaos comes new patterns.
Meanwhile, how does playmaking fit into all this? I recalled my time as a marketer for a pharma company. Often, we would analyse the competition and figure out ways to use market research to subtlely try and influence how doctors either perceived competitors on the market or those coming along in the pipeline behind us, then monitor and measure the effects of a particular campaign. This all takes considerable time and money though. Yesterday, a member of the audience from Play2run was sharing how his company uses creative models to help companies develop and gain a competitive edge.
runs plays to increase their relative competitive advantage
in busy marketplaces. Some do it well. Some try to avoid it. Some do it
directly. Some use surrogates. Some run one play at a time. Some run many
simultaneously. Almost all do so on instinct but fewer with the support
of stated objectives, policies and augmenting research.”
You can see more about the system and how it works on the website but the digital world has allowed playmaking and marketing strategies to evolve in a much more sophisticated way than we used to accomplish. Whether it works effectively or not, I couldn’t say, but it’s a fascinating area to watch and potentially get involved in.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable and thought-provoking workshop, kudos to August, Eric and Suki for making it a worthwhile 450 mile round day trip!