Utilising competitive intelligence, a key component of knowledge management, to formulate a strategy to develop and manage international markets

Marsal, Jose Javier (2006-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Information Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.

Thesis

Research Problem: Research commences at the point where within our department we begin to reflect on penetrating a new market. At first this reflection can be a very unstructured thought, a conjecture, a question, or hypothesis. In our case, it was about entering the Brazilian telematics or more commonly known the ‘tracking’ market. One of the most competitive markets in the world in terms of lower margins and a high number of competitors. Thus, the need to conduct research and CI analysis was paramount; this was because we had no idea about the Brazilian Telematics market. Therefore, we used research primarily to identify key issues relating to telematics (segment, competitors, customers etc) in Brazil. Like most companies however, our resources was limited in terms of investment and manpower. Apart from commissioning a very specific research, a great deal of desk, or secondary research was undertaken, this proved very valuable when formulating our strategy and achieving actionable results. Overall Objectives: The aim was to utilise mostly Competitive Intelligence and Market Research, two key components within Knowledge Management, to obtain and analyse competitive information from multiple sources to aid DigiCore’s international expansion. For the International team Competitive Intelligence was more than analyzing competitors - it was about making DigiCore more competitive relative to its existing set of competitors and potential competitors in international markets. Predictive analysis - analysing and documenting the likely moves of foreign markets and competitors was a key objective, especially in aiding our final strategy in Brazil. Various aspects of CI and Knowledge Management became indispensable to formulate and implement our strategy in Brazil. Research Design/Methodology: sampling, representativeness and data collection, CI, analysis and interpretation were key activities we conducted. In essence, for DigiCore a well-defined research problem is a precondition for our Brazilian project. The development of a research design thus follows logically from the research problem. A set of guidelines and instructions needed to be followed in order to address our research problem. Main Results: there is the misconception that CI and market research duplicate activities, whilst there may be some truth, for DigiCore CI was undertaken to understand our environment better – beyond percentages, graphs and statistic analysis. CI helped us to forecast, validate industry rumours and ultimately make effective decisions and thus being able to act rather than react. In fact, beginning any competitive intelligence project is a daunting task, but the end results made the whole process worth it. A further component was Managing Information Systems - Our technology is based on ‘complicated’ internal and external environments that need to be considered. So whilst, market research and competitive analysis may aid in the final decision making and ongoing strategies, without juxtaposing these efforts within an information systems environment, the whole project would be futile. Conclusion: there is no doubt in our minds, that by using CI, Market Research, and Knowledge Management in all of our key stages and activities we came closer to our overall objective of penetrating the Brazilian telematics market. Whilst it is too soon to evaluate our success and overall long-term growth, without the above tools we know for certain that there would not have been any success at all.

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