Use Business Intelligence To Compete More Effectively

I’m looking forward to seeing you all at the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit in Las Vegas, April 12-14.  Microsoft will have a booth at the event, as well as a great customer presentation on Monday during lunch (I’d like invite you all to attend!).

Business Intelligence often is associated with optimization, innovation and prediction, all of which are sure to be discussed at the summit.  But business intelligence and analytics also are powerful tools for sharpening competitive skills. Not long ago, Fortune magazine detailed the ferocious competitive drive that is turning Hyundai into a global automotive force.  Among the company’s key tools: Turning competitive insights into new ways to do business.

That point is akin to our central argument in the book Joey Fitts and I wrote, Drive Business Performance: competitive insights are key to strategy and competitive agility is central to an organization's execution plan.  Here are some ideas to take into account when developing a competitive muscle:

  • Provide clear competitive direction. Hyundai’s emphasis on comparing itself to its competitors creates a culture of accountability.  We have found that competitive success hinges on an organization's ability to determine and communicate what they compete on and what they decide not to compete on.  Competitive clarity allows companies to drive the attention of their employees to the right playing field.  If, as in the case of Hyundai, your organization wins on quality, then make that a part of a company’s culture. Support your quality goals with systems that allow you to drive accountability from procurement to manufacturing, from marketing to operations, from finance to sales.  This Hyundai ad shows what that can look like.  
  • Ask how you are different. Once you have clarified your "competitive agenda" and put in place systems that support it, it's time to aggressively monitor your organization's progress. We have learned from organizations such as Skanska, which monitors and forecasts its competition's performance constantly, that frequent external monitoring is as important as internal monitoring.  This competitive context can be used as a base for rewarding employees.  One organization designed compensation plans around "internal" performance and "external" performance.  We observed that when employees are rewarded for executing better than the competition, they become more aware of what their competitive attributes are.  They ask:
    1. What is different about our company versus the competitor?
    2. What tools, models or information can we use that the competition doesn't have access to? 
    3. If the same information is available to all, what’s unique about the way we use it?

At that point, winning organizations focus on using their differentiator and develop the agility needed to move faster than the competition.  For example, during the recession, Hyundai found that 75 percent of the car buyers that had taken themselves out of the market did so because they were afraid of losing their jobs.  The company rapidly implemented the "Assurance" program, through which Hyundai would take back a customer's newly purchased car if the owner loses his/her job.
I’m happy to discuss this concept further (more on the event here).  I hope to see you there!  If you'd like to meet at the event, please contact me directly at

Also, you can read more about how Hyundai smokes the competition, or watch an ABC video about their flexible manufacturing process. And take a look at the book I co-wrote, “Drive Business Performance, Enabling a Culture of Intelligent Execution.”

Posted by Bruno Aziza

Worldwide Strategy Lead, Business Intelligence