Is Your Business Seeing the Complete Picture?

Posted by Mark Guthrie on Friday, August 30, 2013

In my last article I told you about Competitive Intelligence (CI) and how companies should use it to better understand the competitive landscape that exists outside of their business. Understanding your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses can be crucial to making better informed and more accurate strategic decisions to help you reach your business goals. As a concept, CI is appealing and quite easy for CEOs and CIOs to understand when it relates to furthering their core business activities but what about using this type of intelligence to improve non-core business related decision making? How about a non-core business activity that forms the single largest overhead that virtually every business has?

Typically, companies will spend up to a half of their total revenue on human-capital related costs. It is an enormous investment that influences every facet of every business process that every company engages in. Simply put, without the right people a business will fail - regardless of how compelling the product or service the business provides is. And if your company operates in a highly competitive sector, then enticing and recruiting the best people for your business (particularly if your business requires specialist skills, professional qualifications, experience or all three) is a game of attraction that you simply cannot afford to lose.

So how do you bring new people into your business and how often do you need to recruit new people every year? It isn’t always an exact science but it is necessary and it absolutely will have to happen. Typically, a company that employs 500 people will need to recruit 4 to 6 people every month just to stand still and stay the same size in a year’s time. And that is without growing the business. In some sectors this churn rate can be much higher. If, like many companies, you only appeal to ‘the market’ when you need new people to grow your business or to replace somebody who has left your company then how can you be sure that the person who is the perfect fit will happen to see your advert in the press or online when it is listed? In fact, what control mechanisms do you have over the quality and extent of your search at all? If and when you do find some people that you’d like to interview, what criteria are you using to benchmark them or, in a competitive market, what benchmarks are they using to compare you with your competitors (very likely a company that the candidate is already working for).

Using competitive intelligence techniques to identify who works for your competitors is not a new concept – it is akin to the type of process that a search recruitment company – or ‘headhunter’ might use to identify and qualify suitable candidates for executive level appointments. It is a process that is bespoke, professional and usually successful. However, it is expensive, it is time consuming and it is generally only used for the most senior and highly paid positions within a company. It also doesn’t tell you anything about your competitors as employers or why a talented individual chooses to work for them instead of you. This is where a retained competitive intelligence partner can really benefit ambitious companies and give them a huge strategic advantage over their competitors.

Using competitive intelligence, companies can create market maps and talent maps across the competitive landscape where their businesses operate, and to a management depth that is far deeper than traditional headhunting techniques would normally be used. These maps can be used as a pre-emptive initiative to identify talented individuals that make up the passive talent pool that is simply not available to you if you use traditional methods to engage with the active talent pool at any given time. Furthermore, using competitive intelligence, it is possible to develop comprehensive profiles of competitor companies and rank how they engage, attract, retain and develop their employees. This information can then be used in a number of ways but perhaps the most compelling use is to strengthen the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) that your company presents to its employees in contrast to your competitor’s EVPs.

In the next installment, I will explain how investing in a Talent Profiling service saves company’s money and lots of time whilst simultaneously improving process efficiencies. And what was that EVP thing again?

In the meantime, please get in touch if you would like further information on the Headhunting or Competitive Intelligence services we can offer.

Mark Guthrie

Intel Horizon 
Partners with Maxim Recruitment on Competitive Intelligence gathering and selected search recruitment assignments