Where’s the Local Market Intelligence?

In a rapidly changing business world that celebrates the coming of Industry 4.0 and the role of AI in transforming products and services, the buzz is still missing on the leadership and organizational practices that will enable such transformations. And hello again, let’s not forget the lack of attention to the contexts that are driving global change – networks that are increasingly international, multicultural, and digitally connected. The underlying theme or ‘fil rouge’ for these change levers is the ability of an organization to connect to local market intelligence.

The primary challenge for organizations today is a persistent focus on driving global strategy from a top management view perched within the HQ central command system. The global strategy model employs a ‘push’ approach assuming markets are similar and HQ knows strategy best and thus relies on local teams for marketing and sales execution. Then the shock and surprise phenomena appear when leadership and management discover that local markets and customers have different preferences and cultural perceptions for the proposed global solutions. What happened to the global strategy and planning process?

In order to accelerate local market demand and project performance, many organizations are addressing international market expansion through a transnational strategy with project leaders that facilitate global and local market knowledge. Yet there is a growing need to involve all stakeholders, especially local teams, in a strategic co-creation process that effectively taps into local market intelligence. This responds better to a ‘pull’ strategy where local teams and customers can initiate and contribute to solutions that speak to their markets. Throughout my research and consulting work, I have found that international organizations still lack an ability to engage local teams around the world. If the future of strategy-making relies on the intelligence of a dynamic global network, why is there a lack of engagement with local teams and customers in mature, emerging, and developing markets?

When exploring the role of local teams in strategic planning and the front end of innovation, my studies have shown that a majority are expected to participate in the execution of market introductions rather than strategy-making and concept validation. Yet, the strategic planning phase relies on knowledge of local requirements to determine the level of standardization or internationalization required for a new concept. Local knowledge concerning customer preferences, cultural practices, competition and market trends are essential for effective strategic planning.

In order to make a quick check on your local market intelligence status, consider the following questions for current global projects and initiatives:

·      What is the participation role of local teams in the ideation and strategic planning phases of your global initiative?

·      Which opportunities exist for local teams to contribute to the formulation and development of the global strategy?

·      How is your organization ensuring knowledge-sharing with local teams, from concept creation to execution phases?

In order to increase success in conceiving and executing innovation strategies for international markets, multicultural collaboration should serve as a competitive advantage and critical resource in accelerating innovation and market responsiveness. Cross-cultural team interactions facilitate the sharing of local market knowledge, cultural understanding, and the creation of new ideas. Increased collaboration can be achieved through a focus on knowledge-sharing and participation in the front end of innovation for strategic co-creation. The orchestration and re-configuration of knowledge from international teams and customers optimizes local market intelligence for global innovation performance.

Make sure to engage your local teams in strategic co-creation in order to develop a vibrant global network for collaboration and innovation. Look forward to your thoughts and success stories!

This article is based on new thoughts and excerpts from the book “Leading Global Innovation” by Karina R. Jensen, Palgrave Macmillan / Springer, 2017.

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