This is a mesage to anyone struggling to keep up with information on their competition, or the latest developments in a given technology, or legislation, or specific industries, or... It's also a message to our colleagues, including fellow consultants, who need background information in a hurry on prospects or clients.
As the authors of Strategic Cost Management (reviewed above) so conclusively point out, an understanding of your cost structure is essential to gaining and sustaining a strategic advantage, whether in terms of product/service mix or "make or buy" decisions.
Unless information gathering is one of your core strengths, smart sourcing of business intelligence will be less expensive and less disruptive of your operations than doing it yourself. Let me give you a couple of examples.
Several trade commissioners ask us to gather information and prepare white papers on trends in technology or the potential impact of pending legislation on American markets for certain products. Yes, they all have access to the Internet; they all can check through directories and pick up the phone to call the appropriate government departments or lawmakers for their opinions; they can research and contact executives of American companies that might be good strategic partners for their own domestic organizations.
Why do they call on us? Fast turn-around, for one. In the Chicago area, we sometimes provide a turn-around of less than an hour, messengering original material downloaded from the Internet. For our European and Asian clients, we communicate mostly by e-mail, often appending scanned or text attachments that are waiting when they arrive the next day.
Of course not all of our work with global organizations requires rapid response. Sometimes it's the sheer volume of material available that is so daunting, even intimidating. Our long history of research enables us to separate the wheat from the chaff and then tie the wheat into user-friendly bundles that can be easily digested. Oops, got carried away. Sorry ;-)
Our manufacturing clients rely on us as an unbiased "second opinion" to keep them up-to-date on the latest thinking in all sorts of areas, from automation to "best practices" in facility management to family succession and other HR (human resource) issues. Since we don't get involved in the "hands-on" implementation in these areas, they trust us to provide reliable, third-party information.
Technology Management Associates, Inc.
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