In simple terms, environment refers to the surroundings, external objects, influences or circumstances under which someone or something exists. Famous management scientist Keith Davis has defined environment as “the aggregate of all conditions, events and influences that surround and affect it.”
We do not include internal environment while discussing environment for the simple reason that internal environment is controllable but external environment is non-controllable.
Characteristics of Business Environment:
The following are the major characteristics of Business Environment:
1. It is a sum total of both internal and external forces.
2. It includes specific (to the firm) as well as general forces (Common to all firms).
3. It is dynamic (always changing) in nature.
4. Since prediction of future is difficult, it is always uncertain.
5. It varies from region to region due to STEEPLE.
More specific aims/Importance is to:
- Understand the importance of a business environment
All organisations must work within their business environment, which consists of all the external factors that affect its operations, but which it cannot control. This is a very complex concept, with many competing stakeholders. Managers have to asses their environment, and then design a strategy that allows the organisation to work successfully within it.
- Describe the factors that form an environment
The environment is a complex combination of the economic system, political system, legal restraints, society, industry, labour relations, customer expectations, markets, competition, technology, culture, history, infrastructure, state of the economy, shareholder demands, natural environment, labour conditions, and so on. We can classify these factors into five categories of the physical environment, political and legal factors, economic factors, social and socio-cultural factors, and technological factors. Alternatively we can consider inherent or macro factors that give the infrastructure and framework, and competitive or micro factors that are set by the industry and market.
- Appreciate the economic context of operations.
The type of economic system is probably the dominant factor in an organisation’s macro environment, as it defines the basic relationships between supply and demand. We assume that most organisations work in some kind of market economy. Then economic analyses give a lot of essential information about costs, supply, demand, competition, and so on.
- Discuss the concept of an industry and the features that make it attractive to an organisation.
An industry is a group of organisations that use similar resources to make equivalent products to satisfy the same customer demand. When planning its products, an organisation implicitly makes a choice about the industry it works in. many features can make an industry attractive, including the size of market, financial performance, type of products, point in their life cycles, number and features of customers, patterns of demand, state of competitors, basis of competition, resource requirements, efficiency, economies of scale, levels of technology, seasonal variations, entry and exit barriers, relations in the supply chain, risks, and so on.
- Discuss the concept of a market and the features that make it attractive to an organisation.
The market is the set of customers who buy – or might buy – a particular type of product. As a rule, organisations do not like working in markets that are aggressively competitive. This means that in more attractive markets Porter’s five competitive forces are all weak – in other words, there is little competition from existing organisations, weak suppliers and customers, and low chance of substitute products and new entrants. But the market does not have to look like this, and a well-designed strategy can allow an organisation to succeed in even the most hostile market.
- Consider the ways that managers respond to changes in the environment.
There are continuous changes in the environment and managers have to make appropriate responses. In effect, they have to assess potential events in the future, and then make decisions based on the likelihood of these events occurring, and the consequences if they do occur. Several analyses can help here, particularly decision rules and expected values (or utilities). Then the chapter lists nine possible reactions, ranging from ignoring potential changes (particularly if they are unlikely to happen or if the consequences are minor) to moving to another environment (if changes are very likely to happen and have serious consequences).
Types of Environments:
1. Macro/Contextual/General and Task Environments:
In terms of levels, environment can be categorized as general environment (also known as the societal environment, the far environment or the macro environment) and task environment. Forces in the general environment have a major impact at the level of the industry.
These forces include national culture, including historical background, ideologies and values; scientific and technological developments; the level of education; legal and political processes; demographic factors; available resources, the international environment; and the general economic, social and industrial structure of the country. The task environment covers the forces relevant to an individual organization within an industry. These include consumers, suppliers, competitors, regulators, the local labour market, and specific technologies.
2. Micro/Immediate/Operational Environment
An organization’s internal environment is composed of the elements within the organization, including current employees, management, and especially corporate culture, which defines employee behavior. Although some elements affect the organization as a whole, others affect only the manager. A manager’s philosophical or leadership style directly impacts employees. Traditional managers give explicit instructions to employees, while progressive managers empower employees to make many of their own decisions. Changes in philosophy and/or leadership style are under the control of the manager. The following sections describe some of the elements that make up the internal environment.
An organization’s mission statement describes what the organization stands for and why it exists. It explains the overall purpose of the organization and includes the attributes that distinguish it from other organizations of its type.
A mission statement should be more than words on a piece of paper; it should reveal a company’s philosophy, as well as its purpose. This declaration should be a living, breathing document that provides information and inspiration for the members of the organization. A mission statement should answer the questions, “What are our values?” and “What do we stand for?” This statement provides focus for an organization by rallying its members to work together to achieve its common goals.
But not all mission statements are effective in America’s businesses. Effective mission statements lead to effective efforts. In today’s quality‐conscious and highly competitive environments, an effective mission statement’s purpose is centered on serving the needs of customers. A good mission statement is precise in identifying the following intents of a company:
Customers — who will be served
Products/services — what will be produced
Location — where the products/services will be produced
Philosophy — what ideology will be followed
Company policies are guidelines that govern how certain organizational situations are addressed. Just as colleges maintain policies about admittance, grade appeals, prerequisites, and waivers, companies establish policies to provide guidance to managers who must make decisions about circumstances that occur frequently within their organization. Company policies are an indication of an organization’s personality and should coincide with its mission statement.
The formal structure of an organization is the hierarchical arrangement of tasks and people. This structure determines how information flows within the organization, which departments are responsible for which activities, and where the decision‐making power rests.
Some organizations use a chart to simplify the breakdown of its formal structure. This organizational chart is a pictorial display of the official lines of authority and communication within an organization.
The organizational culture is an organization’s personality. Just as each person has a distinct personality, so does each organization. The culture of an organization distinguishes it from others and shapes the actions of its members.
Four main components make up an organization’s culture:
Rites and rituals
Values are the basic beliefs that define employees’ successes in an organization. For example, many universities place high values on professors being published. If a faculty member is published in a professional journal, for example, his or her chances of receiving tenure may be enhanced. The university wants to ensure that a published professor stays with the university for the duration of his or her academic career — and this professor’s ability to write for publications is a value.
The second component is heroes. A hero is an exemplary person who reflects the image, attitudes, or values of the organization and serves as a role model to other employees. A hero is sometimes the founder of the organization (think Sam Walton of Wal‐Mart). However, the hero of a company doesn’t have to be the founder; it can be an everyday worker, such as hard‐working paralegal Erin Brockovich, who had a tremendous impact on the organization.
Rites and rituals, the third component, are routines or ceremonies that the company uses to recognize high‐performing employees. Awards banquets, company gatherings, and quarterly meetings can acknowledge distinguished employees for outstanding service. The honorees are meant to exemplify and inspire all employees of the company during the rest of the year.
The final component, the social network, is the informal means of communication within an organization. This network, sometimes referred to as the company grapevine, carries the stories of both heroes and those who have failed. It is through this network that employees really learn about the organization’s culture and values.
A byproduct of the company’s culture is the organizational climate. The overall tone of the workplace and the morale of its workers are elements of daily climate. Worker attitudes dictate the positive or negative “atmosphere” of the workplace. The daily relationships and interactions of employees are indicative of an organization’s climate.
Resources are the people, information, facilities, infrastructure, machinery, equipment, supplies, and finances at an organization’s disposal. People are the paramount resource of all organizations. Information, facilities, machinery equipment, materials, supplies, and finances are supporting, nonhuman resources that complement workers in their quests to accomplish the organization’s mission statement. The availability of resources and the way that managers value the human and nonhuman resources impact the organization’s environment.
Philosophy of management is the manager’s set of personal beliefs and values about people and work and as such, is something that the manager can control. McGregor emphasized that a manager’s philosophy creates a self‐fulfilling prophecy. Theory X managers treat employees almost as children who need constant direction, while Theory Y managers treat employees as competent adults capable of participating in work‐related decisions. These managerial philosophies then have a subsequent effect on employee behavior, leading to the self‐fulfilling prophecy. As a result, organizational philosophies and managerial philosophies need to be in harmony.
The number of coworkers involved within a problem‐solving or decision‐making process reflects the manager’s leadership style. Empowerment means delegating to subordinates decision‐making authority, freedom, knowledge, autonomy, and skills. Fortunately, most organizations and managers are making the move toward the active participation and teamwork that empowerment entails.
When guided properly, an empowered workforce may lead to heightened productivity and quality, reduced costs, more innovation, improved customer service, and greater commitment from the employees of the organization. In addition, response time may improve, because information and decisions need not be passed up and down the hierarchy. Empowering employees makes good sense because employees closest to the actual problem to be solved or the customer to be served can make the necessary decisions more easily than a supervisor or manager removed from the scene.
Environment Scanning and Strategic Management
A business manager operates in an environment and studies the variables to attain good result. These termed as environment scanning or analysis. At the same time, environment scanning points towards interaction among environment factors. According to Stephen Robbins, “Environment scanning entails scrutinising the environment to identify action by competitors, government, union and the like that might impinge on the organisation’s operations.” Environment scanning is a step towards corporate planning which fall in the domain of strategic management. describes strategic management as “The determination of the basic long-term goals and objectives of an enterprise and the adoption of courses of action and allocation of resources necessary to carry out these goals.” Strategic management or business policy is, thus, the means to achieve the organisational purpose.
The process of strategic management involves determining the mission and objectives, analysis of the environment opportunities and threats and evaluating the strength and weaknesses of the firm to tap the opportunities or to combat the threat, formulating strategies to achieve the objectives of the organisation. Thus, environment scanning leads to a formulation of sound and effective organisational and managerial strategies by coping with the probable demands of the environment and to a great extent it helps to reduce uncertainty.
Techniques of Environment Scanning/Analysis
William F Glueck has mentioned the following techniques of environment scanning
- Verbal and Written Information
Environmental information can easily be obtained by industrial journals, bussiness magazines, published and unpublished materials, talk shows, consultants, seminars and customers etc. The information available from such source provides an authentic information about the environment around the organisation. Government publications are a good source of environment information.
- Search and Scanning
If particular type of information is required regarding the business environment, a proper research is conduct to come up with any conclusion.
Spying is considered as unethical in business, even though organisation often use spying as a source to collect information.
- Forecasting and Formal Studies
The information gathered by above three methods is used to predict business environment. Such forecast is basically done by corporate planners of consultants.
Some of the popular techniques of environment analysis are described below
It is a systematic identification or analysis of Strengths (S) Weaknesses (W) Opportunities (O) and Threats (T) in the environment that exist internal or external to the organisation and the strategy that reflects the best match between them. It bases on the assumption that an effective strategy maximises a business’s strengths and opportunities but at the same time, minimises its weaknesses and threats. SWOT is the cornerstone of business policy formulation; which determine the course of action to ensure the survival and growth of the firm. Economic Technological Business Socio-cultural International Political Natural
Uses of SWOTAnalysis
• Corporate planning
• Competitor evaluation
• Business and product development
• Set objectives–defining what the organisation is intending to do.
• Environmental scanning.
• Internal appraisals of the organizations SWOT, this needs to include an assessment of the present situation as well as a portfolio of products/services and an analysis of the product/service life cycle.
• Analysis of existing strategies, this should determine relevance from the results of an internal/external appraisal.
• Develop new/revised strategies – revised analysis of strategic issues may mean the objectives need to change.
• Preparation of operational, resource, projects plans for strategy implementation.
• Monitoring results – mapping against plans, taking corrective action which may mean amending objectives/strategies.
- PETELS / PESTLE / PEST Analysis
PESTEL stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal. Traditionally PESTEL analysis was known as the PEST (sometime rearranged as STEP) analysis. In modern time PESTLE came into being by splitting the social part of the PEST into environmental and economic factor into legal factor as these factors have a significant role in the strategic management these days. It is a strategic planning technique that provides a useful framework for analysing the environmental pressures on an organisation. To have upper hand on the competitors every company should do the PESTEL analysis frequently to make necessary changes in the goals and take appropriate decisions to be alive in the market.
- Industry Analysis
An industry analysis is a business function completed by business owners and other individuals to assess the current business environment. This analysis helps businesses to understand various economic pieces of the market place and how these pieces may be used to gain a competitive advantage. Although, business owners may conduct an industry analysis according to their specific needs, a few basic standards exist for conducting this important business function.
- Competitor’s Analysis
The competitive structure of industries is a very important business environment. Identification of forces affecting the competitive dynamics of an industry will be very useful in formulating business strategies. According to Michael Porter’s, “The state of competition in an industry depends on five basic competitive forces which provides a simple perspective for assessing and analysing the competitive strength and position of a business organisation,” which are as
1. Existing competitive rivalry between suppliers
2. Threat of new market entrants
3. Bargaining power of buyers
4. Power of suppliers
5. Threat of substitute products (including technology change)
Porter’s Five Forces Model/ Five external industry forces affecting an organization.
Porter’s five forces model is an analysis tool that uses five industry forces to determine the intensity of competition in an industry and its profitability level.
Understanding the tool
Five forces model was created by M. Porter in 1979 to understand how five key competitive forces are affecting an industry. The five forces identified are:
These forces determine an industry structure and the level of competition in that industry. The stronger competitive forces in the industry are the less profitable it is. An industry with low barriers to enter, having few buyers and suppliers but many substitute products and competitors will be seen as very competitive and thus, not so attractive due to its low profitability.
It is every strategist’s job to evaluate company’s competitive position in the industry and to identify what strengths or weakness can be exploited to strengthen that position. The tool is very useful in formulating firm’s strategy as it reveals how powerful each of the five key forces is in a particular industry.
- Threat of new entrants.
This force determines how easy (or not) it is to enter a particular industry. If an industry is profitable and there are few barriers to enter, rivalry soon intensifies. When more organizations compete for the same market share, profits start to fall. It is essential for existing organizations to create high barriers to enter to deter new entrants. Threat of new entrants is high when:
- Low amount of capital is required to enter a market
- Existing companies can do little to retaliate;
- Existing firms do not possess patents, trademarks or do not have established brand reputation;
- There is no government regulation;
- Customer switching costs are low (it doesn’t cost a lot of money for a firm to switch to other industries);
- There is low customer loyalty
- Products are nearly identical;
- Economies of scale can be easily achieved.
- Bargaining power of suppliers.
Strong bargaining power allows suppliers to sell higher priced or low quality raw materials to their buyers. This directly affects the buying firms’ profits because it has to pay more for materials. Suppliers have strong bargaining power when:
- There are few suppliers but many buyers;
- Suppliers are large and threaten to forward integrate
- Few substitute raw materials exist;
- Suppliers hold scarce resources;
- Cost of switching raw materials is especially high.
- Bargaining power of buyers.
Buyers have the power to demand lower price or higher product quality from industry producers when their bargaining power is strong. Lower price means lower revenues for the producer, while higher quality products usually raise production costs. Both scenarios result in lower profits for producers. Buyers exert strong bargaining power when:
- Buying in large quantities or control many access points to the final customer;
- Only few buyers exist
- Switching costs to other supplier are low
- They threaten to backward integrate;
- There are many substitutes;
- Buyers are price sensitive.
- Threat of substitutes.
This force is especially threatening when buyers can easily find substitute products with attractive prices or better quality and when buyers can switch from one product or service to another with little cost. For example, to switch from coffee to tea doesn’t cost anything, unlike switching from car to bicycle.
- Rivalry among existing competitors.
This force is the major determinant on how competitive and profitable an industry is. In competitive industry, firms have to compete aggressively for a market share, which results in low profits. Rivalry among competitors is intense when:
- There are many competitors;
- Exit barriers are high;
- Industry of growth is slow or negative;
- Products are not differentiated and can be easily substituted;
- Competitors are of equal size;
- Low customer loyalty.
Although, Porter originally introduced five forces affecting an industry, scholars have suggested including the sixth force: complements. Complements increase the demand of the primary product with which they are used, thus, increasing firm’s and industry’s profit potential. For example, iTunes was created to complement iPod and added value for both products. As a result, both iTunes and iPod sales increased, increasing Apple’s profits.
Using the tool
We now understand that Porter’s five forces framework is used to analyze industry’s competitive forces and to shape organization’s strategy according to the results of the analysis. But how to use this tool? We have identified the following steps:
- Step 1. Gather the information on each of the five forces
- Step 2. Analyze the results and display them on a diagram
- Step 3. Formulate strategies based on the conclusions
Step1. Gather the information on each of the five forces.
What managers should do during this step is to gather information about their industry and to check it against each of the factors (such as “number of competitors in the industry”) influencing the force. We have already identified the most important factors in the table below.
Step 2. Analyze the results and display them on a diagram.
After gathering all the information, you should analyze it and determine how each force is affecting an industry. For example, if there are many companies of equal size operating in the slow growth industry, it means that rivalry between existing companies is strong. Remember that five forces affect different industries differently so don’t use the same results of analysis for even similar industries!
Step 3. Formulate strategies based on the conclusions.
At this stage, managers should formulate firm’s strategies using the results of the analysis For example, if it is hard to achieve economies of scale in the market, the company should pursue cost leadership strategy. Product development strategy should be used if the current market growth is slow and the market is saturated.
Although, Porter’s five forces is a great tool to analyze industry’s structure and use the results to formulate firm’s strategy, it has its limitations and requires further analysis to be done, such as SWOT, PEST or Value Chain analysis.
5. QUEST Analysis
It is a quick environmental scanning technique which is proposed by B Nanus.
It is a four step process
1. Observe the major events and trends in the industry.
2. Speculate on a wide range of important issue.
3. Prepare a report summarising the major issues and their implications.
4. Identify feasible strategic options to deal with the evolving environment.
6. Change with Environments Changes
An organisation may use several techniques to change with its environments.
This technique is used to soften the impact of environment on the organisation. Stocking materials, preventive maintenance, employee training, building inventory are some of the examples of buffering. It involves allocating organisational resources according to a system of priorities. On the one hand, buffering absorbs environment fluctuations and on the other levelling is an attempts to reduce fluctuations in the environment. e.g., retail firms faced with seasonal fluctuations offer price cuts in order to spread sales more evenly throughout the year.
Under this method organisation tries to control events in the environment and reduce its dependence on them. It mean acquiring information about probable changes in the environment. An organisation may change itself, its operations and output.
Benefits of Understanding the Environment
Early identification of opportunities helps an enterprise to be the first to exploit them instead of loosing them to competitors. Environmental understanding provide enough information regarding the need and expectation of the customer and helps business organisation to focus towards their customers. Keeping an eye on environment provide relevant information to the organisation in formulation of strategy.
It makes a firm aware of the impending threat or crises, so that the firm can take timely action to minimise the adverse effects. A business firm can improve its image by showing that it is sensitive to its environment and responsive to the aspiration of public.
Enterprises that continuously monitoring their environment and adopt suitable business practices not only improve their present performance, but also succeed in the market for a longer period.
Business leaders act as agents of change. They create a drive for change at the gross root level. In order to decide the direction and nature of change, the leaders need to understand the aspirations of people and other environmental forces through environment scanning.
Environmental study helps us in getting updates regarding technological changes and helps in making action plans to cope with such changes.
In the process of transforming inputs into output, business organisations operate in a multifaceted environment which affects and is affected by their activities. This environment tends to be complex and volatile and comprises influences which are of both a general and an immediate kind and which operate at different spatial levels. Understanding this environment and its effects on business operations is of vital importance to the study and practice of business.
Summary of Key Points
- Business activity is essentially concerned with transforming inputs into outputs for consumption purposes.
- All businesses operate within an external environment which shapes their operations and decisions.
- This environment comprises influences which are both operational and general.
- The operational environment of business is concerned with such factors as customers, suppliers, creditors and competitors.
- The general environment focuses on what are known as the PESTLE factors.
- In analysing a firm’s external environment attention needs to be paid to the interaction between the different environmental variables, environmental complexity, volatility and change and to the spatial influences.
- While all firms are affected by the environment in which they exist and operate, at times they help to shape that environment by their activities and behaviour.
Baileys, An Example
Aim: to give an example of the way that a major company responds to its environment – and can even change it.
In the 1970s, Diageo noticed an opportunity in its Dublin operations to take advantage of a local surplus of milk – using this in an entirely new cream liqueur that they called Baileys. This proved so successful over the next 20 years that it used all the surplus milk around Dublin, and began to create a shortage. The operations of Diageo were so large that they changed the features of their environment – and particularly affecting the economics of local dairy farming. Their next stage was carefully planned, and consisted of steps to increase the efficiency of farmers, raising their productivity and lowering costs. Their impact on the environment went wider, ranging from social changes as agriculture became more attractive, to competitive forces as customers increased demand for different types of drinks.
Questions to be discussed?
- Some people say that organisations do not succeed by fitting their strategy to opportunities in an existing environment, but by developing strengths to create entirely new opportunities. What does this mean?
Forecasting, planning and goals
Forecasting is a common statistical task in business, where it helps inform decisions about scheduling of production, transportation and personnel, and provides a guide to long-term strategic planning. However, business forecasting is often done poorly and is frequently confused with planning and goals. They are three different things.
Forecasting is about predicting the future as accurately as possible, given all the information available including historical data and knowledge of any future events that might impact the forecasts.
Goals are what you would like to happen. Goals should be linked to forecasts and plans, but this does not always occur. Too often, goals are set without any plan for how to achieve them, and no forecasts for whether they are realistic.
Planning is a response to forecasts and goals. Planning involves determining the appropriate actions that are required to make your forecasts match your goals.
Forecasting should be an integral part of the decision-making activities of management, as it can play an important role in many areas of a company. Modern organizations require short-, medium- and long-term forecasts, depending on the specific application.
Short-term forecasts are needed for scheduling of personnel, production and transportation. As part of the scheduling process, forecasts of demand are often also required.
Medium-term forecasts are needed to determine future resource requirements in order to purchase raw materials, hire personnel, or buy machinery and equipment.
Long-term forecasts are used in strategic planning. Such decisions must take account of market opportunities, environmental factors and internal resources.
An organization needs to develop a forecasting system involving several approaches to predicting uncertain events. Such forecasting systems require the development of expertise in identifying forecasting problems, applying a range of forecasting methods, selecting appropriate methods for each problem, and evaluating and refining forecasting methods over time. It is also important to have strong organizational support for the use of formal forecasting methods if they are to be used successfully.
Two Commonly used methods
Typically, businesses use relatively simple forecasting methods that are often not based on statistical modelling. However, the use of statistical forecasting is growing and some of the most commonly used methods are listed below.
- Time series methods
• Naive forecasting: it is popular for stock price and stock index forecasting, and for other time series that measure the behaviour of a market that can be assumed to be efficient.
• Simple exponential smoothing was developed in the 1950s (Brown 1959) and has been widely used ever since. This was an attractive feature of the method when computer storage was expensive. The method has proved remarkably robust to a wide range of time series, and is optimal for several processes including the ARIMA(0,1,1) process.
• Holt’s linear method (Holt 1957) is an extension of simple exponential forecasting that allows a locally linear trend to be extrapolated.
• There is also a multiplicative version of the Holt-Winters method, and damped trend versions of both Holt’s linear method and the Holt-Winters method. None of these methods are explicitly based on underlying time series models, and as a result the estimation of parameters and the computation of prediction intervals is often not done. However, all the above methods have recently been shown to be optimal for some state space models, and maximum likelihood estimation of parameters, statistical model selection and computation of prediction intervals is now becoming more widespread.
Other time series models sometimes used in business forecasting include ARIMA models, GARCH models (especially in finance), structural models and neural networks.
- Explanatory models for forecasting
The use of explanatory models in business forecasting does not have such a long history as the use of time series methods.
• Linear regression modelling is now widely used where a variable to be forecast is modelled as linear combination of potential input variables:
An interesting application of regression model to forecasting is given by Byron & Ashenfelter (1995) who use a simple regression model to predict the quality of a Grange wine using simple weather variables. However, it is far more common for regression modelling to be used to explain historical variation than for it to be used for forecasting purposes.
• In advertising, there is a well-developed culture of using distributed lag regression models
Data mining methods for business forecasting
Outside of traditional statistical modelling, an enormous amount of forecasting is done using data mining methods. Most of these methods have no formal statistical model, prediction intervals are not computed, and there is limited model checking. But some of the data-mining methods have proven powerful predictors in some contexts, especially when there is a vast quantity of available data. Predictive methods include neural networks, support vector machines and regression trees. Many of the most best-known business predictive algorithms are based on data-mining methods including the prediction of Netflix ratings and recommended books on Amazon.com
Marketing Intelligence System
Information and reliable data form the bedrock of any management decision. They also form the basis for all the diagnostic and prognostic efforts of managers. From a marketing stand point, problems can only be anticipated, identified, analysed and resolved or prevented if accurate and reliable, relevant information can be obtained promptly from both internal and external sources.
This overriding importance of marketing information is so obvious that every trained marketing manager or executive makes deliberate and sustained efforts to generate, analyze and use reliable marketing related information. The marketing environment is changing at an accelerating rate, so the need for real time market intelligence and information had never been more pressing. The shifts are dramatic, from local to national and to global marketing, from buyers needs to buy wants, from price to non- price competition. As companies expand their geographical market coverage, the managers need more information more quickly: as incomes improve buyer become more selective in their choices of goods and services. To predict buyer’s responses to different features, styles and other attributes, seller must turn to marketing intelligence. As sellers increase their use of branding, product differentiation, advertising and sales promotion, they equally require information on the effectiveness of this marketing tools.
A central problem for managers today is the management of change and complexity arising from the organization’s interaction with the turbulent external marketing environment. However, it is imperative for managers today, to be profoundly sensitive to on-going changes in their environment. It is essential that marketing managers, marketing executive, marketing research officers and other employees of an organisation gain good understanding of how the marketing environment is changing. An alertness and sensitivity to the environment is very essential ingredient of business success, survival and longevity, because of the firm’s dependence on it for resources inputs and services outputs. Successful companies take an outside-inside view of their business. They recognize that marketing environment is constantly presenting new opportunities and threats, which can only be detected, collected, analysed and utilized through the use of marketing intelligence and likewise an organisation should understand the importance of continuously monitoring and adapting to that environment. Many organisations fail to see change as opportunity. They ignore or resist changes until is too late. Their strategies, structures, systems and organizational cultures grow increasingly obsolete and dysfunctional.
The need for marketing information as regards the marketing environment of an organization cannot be over emphasized that is why this research work is highly imperative to today’s decision making, the survival, the success and sustainability of an organisation. Moreover, a better understanding marketing intelligence requires the understanding of concept marketing information system. (This is analysed under the literature review). However, marketing information systems, marketing intelligence systems and marketing research systems are used to gather and analyse data for various parts of marketing plan. These systems can help marketers examine changes and trends to markets, competition, consumer needs, product usage and distribution channels, among other areas. They can turn up evidence of importance opportunities and threats that must be addressed. In carrying out marketing intelligence a manager or marketers needs to scan its environment for useful relevant and up-to-date information about all marketing activities in terms of opportunities and threats in this regard in this section of background of the study I tried in analyzing what environmental scanning is all about while in the later chapters , I will discuss more fully on the issue of marketing intelligence and marketing information system.
The term environment scanning is often used inter- changeably with others such as environment analysis, competitive intelligence gathering and strategic marketing information. In this respect, it could be regarded as marketing intelligence though there is difference however; they both serve the same major function in the marketing environment. Environmental scanning is a process by which marketing managers and executives probe and monitor the business environment to determine the opportunities for and threats to the organisation. This is also a means through which managers perceive and events in the marketing environment. The effectiveness of planning in any organisation is found to be directly related to the capacity of management for environment scanning.
As an organisation increases in size and complexity the need for marketing intelligence also increases simultaneously. When addressing the issue of marketing intelligence certain questions needed to be addressed:
1. What environment do firms need to scan or probe?
2. What information in the environment does the firm need to gather?
3. What are those necessary, relevant and up-to-date consumers need and want (in terms of information do we need to have as an organisation?
4. Of what relevance is this information?
5. What techniques are available to marketing executives or managers for scanning?
The above questions coupled with the following questions, make the marketing intelligence indispensable in the modern market.
a. What kinds of people buy our product?
b. What do they value?
c. What do the buy?
d. What kind of new product would they like to see in the market?
e. Why the sudden change in consumers buying patterns?
f. What if our competitors are attracting more consumers and why?
g. What would be the effect of changes in the price of our product?
These and other related questions are the key to informed marketing decision making. As we already know that a prerequisite for the adoption of a marketing orientation is knowledge about consumers and other aspect of the marketing environment that affect organisations operation’s managers obtain information by informal and formal means. Casual discussion with customers at exhibitions or through sales calls can provide valuable informal information about their requirement, competitors activities and future happening in the industry. Some companies particularly those who have few customers, rely on these types of interaction gathering to keep abreast of market changes.
As the customer base grows, such method may be inadequate to provide the necessary indepth marketing knowledge to compete effectively. A more formal approach is needed to supply information systematically to mangers. The research work focus on this formal method of information provision. Marketing intelligence is important since the quality of the marketing information affect the effectiveness of decision making Irrespective of the sector of the economy or market an organisation operates, there is always a rivalry among the various player (the organisations) in this sector, and each organisation need to device means of existing, sustaining and becoming a mega force to be reckoned with in this sector. Many organisations believe in the use of price as a strategic tool in their various competitive market environment, however, one thing that must be understood is that whether or not an organisation engages in price or non – price competitions to have competitive advantage over others.
It is still precipitated to good use of marketing intelligence, the monitoring of marketing activities for vital and essential information. Many factors have increased the need for more and better information as companies becomes national and international in scope, they need more information on larger, more distant markets as income increase and buyers becomes more selective organisation need better information about how buyers respond to their different products and appeals. As organisation uses more competition, they need information on the effectiveness of their marketing strategic tools. In today’s rapidly changing environment managers need up-to-date information to make timely decision.
- An analysis of viability of idea from logical beginning to logical end
- Begin or not: is it viable business venture
- Provide a thorough examination of all issues and assessment of probability of business success
- Give focus to the project and outline alternatives
- Narrow business alternatives
- Surface new opportunities through the investigative process
- Identify reasons NOT to proceed
- Enhance the probability of success by addressing and mitigating factors early on that could affect the project
- Provide quality information for decision making
- Help to increase investment in the company
- Provide documentation that the business venture was thoroughly investigated
- Help in securing funding from lending institutions and other monetary sources
A feasibility study of an idea is conducted at three levels
- Operational Feasibility
- “Will it work?”
- Technical Feasibility
- “Can it be built?”
- Economic Feasibility
- “Will it make economic sense if it works and is built?”
- “Will it generate PROFITS?”
Estimating Total Capital Requirements
- Assess the “seed capital” needs of the business project and how these needs will be met
- Estimate capital requirements for facilities, equipment and inventories
- Replacement capital requirements and timing for facilities and equipment
- Estimate working capital needs
- Estimate start-up capital needs until revenues are realized at full capacity
- Estimate contingency capital needs (constructions delays, technology malfunction, market access delays, etc.)
- Estimate other capital needs
Estimate Equity and Credit Needs
- Identify alternative equity sources and capital availability
- Producers, Local Investors, Angel Investors, Venture Capitalists
- Identify and assess alternative credit sources
- Banks, Government (direct loans or loan guarantees), Grants, Local and State Economic Development Incentives
- Assess expected financing needs and alternative sources
- Interest Rates, Terms, Conditions, Covenants, Liens, Etc.
- Debt to Equity Levels
Cost benefit Analysis
- Estimate Expected Costs and Revenue
- Estimate the Profit Margin and Expected Net Profit
- Estimate the sales or usage needed to break-even
- Estimate the returns under various production, price and sales levels to create a “sensitivity analysis”
- Assess the reliability of the underlying assumptions of the financial analysis
- Benchmark against industry averages and/or competitors
- Identify limitations or constraints of the economic analysis
- Project expected cash flow during the start-up period
- Project income statement, balance sheet when reaching full operation