In September’s issue of Research World, George Day, a professor of marketing at Wharton, outlines his ideas on how businesses can better connect the dots, spotting and reacting to opportunities or threats more successfully. He believes that companies with an inside-out perspective are good at mining information on their current markets, but that companies that take an outside-in approach—taking the point of view of consumers and competitors to understand peripheral opportunities—are the ones who will identify and react the most effectively.
MREB view: a couple of years ago we set out to study how Research could be a lead voice firm strategy given substantial increases in the volume and pace of market changes. We found that while Research departments were getting really good at driving action on short-term market changes, it is much more challenging to convince the business to take action on long-term, peripheral opportunities.
While reporting on megatrends is a good way to get your business partners to agree on the importance of long-term market changes, trends tracking fails to provide the context for making decisions. If you want to provide the confidence your organization needs to act on market changes you need to take an outside-in stance with an opportunities-based interface:
- What is changing?
- Is this relevant?
- When will it happen?
- What will it mean?
- What can I do?
- How do I respond?
To answer these questions, Research must overcome three challenges:
- Broadening Market Focus-research must expand its market focus to account for relevant changes without overwhelming resources. MREB members can read how The Home Depot broadened the scope of its focus to track changes in peripheral markets without boiling the ocean.
- Anticipating Market Outcomes- research must provide a measure of the likely timing and impact of market changes. MREB members, see how an automotive company uses customer insight to prioritize potential scenarios in terms of likelihood and impact.
- Assessing Opportunities-research must vet opportunities enough to enable execution despite higher levels of uncertainty. MREB members can learn how Corning takes a hypothesis-based approach to assess the relevance of “white space” business opportunities.
Have you seen benefit from an outside-in focus? How do you do it without overwhelming your resources, and how to you convince your business partners to act on peripheral opportunities?