Blue ocean strategy is all about finding a disruptive business model to your industry. Finding your blue ocean requires a hard look at the industry as a whole, an exploration of value propositions, and the ability to anticipate willingness to pay factors that don’t currently exist. It’s clear that this kind of strategy requires the use of good strategic competitive intelligence (CI). Unfortunately, most companies don’t do this kind of comprehensive industry analysis routinely. But thinking of the blue ocean as a mindset rather than a session with a consultant can insert innovation into all areas of a company—especially CI departments.
We’ve seen a lot of clients whose CI departments are stuck in data mining or research mode with little integration into the business strategy. Looking at competitive intelligence through the lens of blue ocean strategy is the best way CI professionals can start to offer more value to the company through strategic insights.
Think Past the Top of Mind Competitors
Even the most experienced CI departments can find themselves spending all their time on analyzing the moves of just one or two rivals. This is not only an indicator that your company’s strategy is in the middle of the red ocean, but is also a distractor from less obvious but maybe more imminent threats. Spend some time on those second or third ring competitors on your competitive landscape. Try segmenting or looking at the data in different ways—that third ring competitor may be closer than you think….
Think about Substitutes
Blue ocean strategy is all about finding new willingness to pay factors–and that means not just looking at the copycat competitors. For instance, doing CI for an airline might mean looking at the other airlines out there. Take it a bit farther and you’re looking at other means of transportation. But what about Face time or Skype? A blue ocean mindset isn’t just about finding your blue ocean strategy. It’s about exploring all possible blue oceans, and keeping an eye on those horizons that have the potential to devalue your product.
Know the Ins and Outs of the Industry
While you are finding all those blue oceans, it can be helpful to take a look at the industry as a whole. Porter’s Five Forces is a useful tool for this. A deep understanding of the barriers to entry and the attractiveness of the industry as a whole will give you clues to watch for. Keep an eye out for signs of new start ups in your industry and watch what they do. They are most primed for finding that coveted disruptive business model.
Thinking through CI in this way is the best way to ensure that you are anticipating the needs you’re your strategic decision makers and will move you along the CI continuum toward a more strategic CI practice.