Business and Competitive Analysis: Effective Application of New and Classic Methods

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9780131873667: Business and Competitive Analysis: Effective Application of New and Classic Methods

“I believe that this book will fill a great need for both full-time competitive intelligence practitioners, and those looking to add analytical skills to their managerial tool kit.”
--Bill Fiora, Partner and Founder, Outward Insights


“All practicing managers and business decision makers should be grateful to Fleisher and Bensoussan for showing them how their analysis work can become more rigorous and their approach less casual. Accept no imitations. This is the genuine article.”

--Sheila Wright, Director of the Competitive Intelligence-Marketing Interface Teaching and Research Initiative (CIMITRI) at Leicester Business School, De Montfort University


The Definitive How-To Guide for Business and Competitive Analysis

  • Transform raw data into compelling, actionable business recommendations
  • Answer the questions executives ask–“What?” “So What?” and “Now What?”
  • Today’s 24 most valuable techniques: how to choose them, how to use them
  • For everyone who performs analysis: managers, consultants, functional specialists, and strategists
  • A completely new book by the authors of the popular Strategic and Competitive Analysis

Business success begins with deep clarity about your competition and your business environment. But, even as data gathering has improved dramatically, few business professionals know the state-of-the-art techniques for analyzing their data. Now there’s a comprehensive, immensely practical guide to today’s best tools and techniques for answering tough questions and making actionable recommendations.

Business and Competitive Analysis begins with end-to-end guidance on the analysis process, including defining problems, avoiding analytical pitfalls, choosing tools, and communicating results. Next, the authors offer detailed guides on 24 of today’s most valuable analysis models: techniques that have never been brought together in one book before.They offer in-depth, step-by-step guidance for using every technique–along with realistic assessments of strengths, weaknesses, feasibility, and business value.


You are flooded with data. This book will help you transform that data into actionable insights and recommendations that enterprise decision makers cannot and will not ignore. Craig S. Fleisher and Babette E. Bensoussan begin with a practical primer on the process and context of business and competitive analysis: how it works, how to avoid pitfalls, and how to communicate results. Next, they introduce their unique FAROUT method for choosing the right tools for each assignment. The authors then present 24 of today’s most valuable analysis methods.They cover “classic” techniques, such as McKinsey 7S and industry analysis, as well as emerging techniques from multiple disciplines:economics,corporate finance, sociology, anthropology, and the intelligence and futurist communities. For each, they present clear descriptions, background context, strategic rationales, strengths, weaknesses, step-by-step instructions, and references. The result is a book you can rely on to meet any analysis challenge, no matter how complex or novel.

  • The fundamentals of business and competitive analysis
    Goals, processes, pitfalls, deliverables, and benefits
  • Competitive analysis techniques
    Nine Forces, Competitive Positioning, Business Model, SERVO, and Supply Chain Analyses
  • Enterprise analysis techniques
    Benchmarking, McKinsey 7S, Shadowing, Product Line, and Win/Loss Analyses
  • Environmental analysis techniques
    Strategic Relationships, Corporate Reputation, Critical Success Factors, Driving Forces, and Country Risk Analyses
  • Evolutionary analysis techniques
    Technology Forecasting,War Gaming, Event/Timeline, Indications and Warning Analyses, and more
  • Financial, probabilistic, and statistical techniques
    Basic Statistics, Competitor Cash Flow, Analysis of Competing Hypothesis (ACH), and Linchpin Analyses

Table of Contents:


1. Business and Competitive Analysis: Definition, Context, and Benefits

2. Performing the Analysis Process

3. Avoiding Analysis Pitfalls

4. Communicating Analysis Results

5. Applying the FAROUT method

6. Industry Analysis (The Nine Forces)

7. Competitive Positioning Analysis

8. Business Model Analysis

9. SERVO Analysis

10. Supply Chain Management (SCM) Analysis

11. Benchmarking Analysis

12. McKinsey 7S Analysis

13. Shadowing

14. Product Line Analysis

15. Win/Loss Analysis

16. Strategic Relationship Analysis

17. Corporate Reputation Analysis

18. Critical Success Factors Analysis

19. Country Risk Analysis 

20. Driving Forces Analysis

21. Event and Timeline Analysis

22. Technology Forecasting

23. War Gaming

24. Indications and Warning Analysis

25. Historiographical Analysis

26. Interpretation of Statistical Analysis

27. Competitor Cash Flow Analysis

28. Analysis of Competing Hypothesis

29. Linchpin Analysis



"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

CRAIG S. FLEISHER is the Chief Learning Officer, Aurora WDC, Wisconsin, USA. He has been President of the international association of Strategy and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP), inaugural chair of the Competitive Intelligence Foundation, founding editor of the Journal of Competitive Intelligence and Management, a SCIP Meritorious Award winner and Fellow. A former business school dean, university research chair holder, MBA director, and board member of multiple organizations and scholarly journals, he has held senior university positions in six countries and is/has been a popular keynote speaker, workshop facilitator and trainer to several hundred private and public-sector organizations in over 40 countries.
BABETTE E. BENSOUSSAN is the Managing Director of The MindShifts Group Pty. Ltd., a Sydney, Australia-based consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, competitive intelligence, and strategic marketing projects in the Asia Pacific region. Over the past 15 years, she has carried out over 300 intelligence and strategic projects in a wide range of industries and markets. Bensoussan founded and served as Vice President for the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals in Australia (SCIPAust). She has been a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Competitive Intelligence and Management and Competitive Intelligence Review and was awarded the CI field's highest individual honor in 2006, SCIP's Meritorious Award.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:



This is a book about how individuals in organizations can turn data and information into insights that decision makers cannot and will not ignore. This book provides its readers with 24 commonly applied methods for helping generate actionable recommendations for decision makers, as well as a handful of detailed chapters that address the process of competitive analysis itself.

Given the priority of competitiveness in firms today, business managers need to have a benchmark about what business and competitive analysis is and how it works. More importantly, they need to be able to convert the wealth of available data and information into a valuable form for decision-making and subsequent actions. Collected data must be converted into intelligence. This is accomplished through analysis.

Business and Competitive Analysis (BCA) is a book about analysis. Analysis is one of the more difficult and critical roles a manager, consultant, functional specialist, strategist, or intelligence provider is called upon to perform. Although great strides have been made in recent years in terms of planning strategy and intelligence projects and collecting data, the same cannot be said for analysis.

Much of the background research we performed in developing this book was derived from practice and research in the larger field of competitive intelligence (CI). This field is not one most of our readers will have encountered during their formal education, and their current employers may not have anybody with that discipline in their job titles. Nevertheless, nearly every firm performs some of the CI functions, and most of them perform it on a regular basis in advance of making key decisions. Analysis is one of the key roles performed by individuals in the CI field, and it is the one that arguably generates the highest value for executives. In our view, business and competitive analysis can and should be a key weapon in the firm's arsenal for achieving competitive advantage.

Despite many advances and steady growth in the CI field, some areas of this growing field have received more or less attention than others. The growth of digital communication and information technology and especially the Internet has led to much attention being given to processes and techniques of data collection, as well as information and knowledge management. Planning competitive intelligence projects has also received a boost from the ever-present attention given more broadly to strategic planning and strategy development. Despite these areas of popular interest, two areas that have received disproportionately less attention are analysis and its communication. In fact, our own observations, experiences, and several studies underlie the authors' contention that many practitioners have limited understanding of the breadth and depth of the challenge underlying these areas.

We seek to remedy this situation by offering this needed book that is devoted entirely to the process, tools, and techniques for conducting business and competitive analysis. This is our second book in this subject matter area, with our first, called Strategic and Competitive Analysis: Methods and Techniques for Analyzing Business Competition, having been published several years ago and subsequently translated into half a dozen different languages. We received a lot of constructive feedback on that effort, particularly from managers and analysts who were using the techniques described in that book. Based on the feedback and reviews, readers typically found it to be an excellent, one-stop source for reminding and guiding them on the key steps of a particular tool to address a particular problem they were facing, as well as providing them with an enhanced idea of what was supposed to be accomplished by applying the tool. That book was used in many well-known enterprises to help train newly hired analysts and consultants. Finally, the book was used in business school courses in scores of countries to help students learn and apply these techniques to decision-oriented case studies and "real-world" projects.

We took the feedback we received and incorporated it into this book in the form of a wider range of proven techniques and a better background on the process and context of business and competitive analysis. This book is absolutely not a second edition and contains completely new content. Between the two books, we provide lengthy coverage of nearly 50 different techniques, which is surely the most detailed coverage of business and competitive analysis methods ever produced.

We recognize that there are literally hundreds of business and competitive analysis techniques that we could have included in this book. It was not our intention to offer an exhaustive list and detailed description of all these techniques. Instead, we have extensively reviewed the literature in the field, considered survey research and our own experiences in determining those techniques we view as potentially being the most applicable across a broad range of decision making contexts supported by the business and competitive analysis process.

Although we have tried to include both "classic" and evolving techniques, we recognize that some techniques that are being used in consulting and industry may not be included here. One reason for this is that some of these tools are and remain proprietary to the consultancies employing them. Another part of the reason we may not have included a useful tool here is that analysis is a process that requires both technical knowledge and creativity. We recognize and hope that managers and analysts will creatively develop techniques not included in this book that provide for better outcomes in their specific contexts.

The reader should also be alert to the fact that any listing of techniques is bound to run into a variety of problems of semantics and definitional confusion. Some of the techniques included in this book are known by multiple names. This may have occurred because the technique came to be associated with a particular originating organization or particular company's use (e.g., McKinsey 7S), a particular author (e.g., Porter's Five Forces Model), or has retained a generic name (e.g., benchmarking analysis). We recognize that some of the techniques included in this book have seen modifications in use over the years or are derivatives of other closely related techniques. In all cases, we have tried to include and describe the most popularly utilized versions of the techniques, as opposed to all of a technique's possible derivatives. Throughout our methods chapters, we have tried to alert the reader to where there is overlap between techniques by suggesting that the reader refer to the overlapping constructs elsewhere in the text.

Many of the techniques included in this book were created by leading economists, financial and cost accountants, futurists, sociologists, anthropologists, intelligence agencies, business professors, consultants, and other insightful practitioners or theoreticians. They often developed their ideas in an effort to solve pressing analytical problems that they faced. We are grateful to these individuals for enlightening our understanding of business and competitive analysis. We make a sincere attempt to acknowledge the originators of these techniques in the book.

We must also note to our readers that it was not our primary intention to "invent a new wheel" when it comes to analytical techniques. The techniques we have included all have a history, with some having been applied for several decades or longer. This book's techniques have been and are in use in real organizations and do not exist just in theory. However, we have included several techniques that are likely to be unfamiliar or novel to many readers, even those who have gone through graduate business, management, or marketing courses, as well as individuals who have been performing analysis in their enterprises for many years. We believe strongly that unfamiliarity is a particularly bad indicator of a method's value. We believe our readers will find that even some of the new techniques (to them at least) will be of high potential value in helping them make sense of their firm's business and competitive contexts.

How to Use the Book

To assist our readers, the majority of this book is self-contained, with the array of analytical techniques being supported by references for further reading for those individuals who want lengthier treatments. The book is organized into two main sections, with the first providing the reader with an understanding of what the evolving body of knowledge in the field has revealed about analysis in its real-world context and how analysis processes actually are supposed to work.

This book includes five detailed chapters that describe, define, and discuss the basic facts about analysis, how analysis can ideally be performed, avoiding analytical pitfalls, and communicating analysis results. The last chapter in the opening section describes our unique FAROUT method for understanding the application of the various tools. We strongly recommend that readers thoroughly review that particular chapter before progressing into the remaining sections of the book that contain coverage of the analytical techniques themselves.

We have tried to make the book easy for the reader to use. The basic structure of the chapters containing the analytical techniques is common throughout the second part of the book and contains the following format:

  • Short Description—A brief definition of the purpose and objective of the analytical model to provide an analyst with a quick and handy reference guide.
  • Background—To place the model in context of management, this section outlines a broad description of the history behind the development of the analytical technique.
  • Strategic Rationale and Implications—Understanding the strategic thinking and imp...

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