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DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION SCIENCE

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After all the extensive groundwork has been done, the most critical stage in the Competitive Intelligence (CI) cycle takes place where the Products of the CI effort have to be consolidated and presented to key management. This assignment serves the purpose of helping us understand the importance of proper reporting and dissemination in competitive intelligence. In the discussion I will be considering the importance of reporting and dissemination in an airline company context looking at the “Volcanic cloud disruptions” in Europe. The discussion will cover the following aspects: the target population, methods of communication, criteria used for reports, style and products used to reporting and dissemination.

Discussion

The importance of proper reporting and dissemination

Reporting and dissemination can be seen as the bridge between the CI effort and Key management decisions of the organisation. What we have learnt in CI up till thus far is that, all efforts in CI are done with the objective of producing competitive intelligence which should enable the strategic team to make important decisions that will positively affect the organisation’s performance. It is therefore, a necessity that the intelligence formulated or gathered by the CI unit is effectively communicated to the clients (Muller, 2003). The requirements of the presentation greatly depends on the clients as they are the ones who need to use the intelligence. It is therefore imperative that the analysed intelligence presented, fulfils the initial requirements made by strategic management. Care needs to be placed so that the CI product is of high quality, specific to those key requirements and that the findings as well recommendations are concise in nature.

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Target populatio

Cathay Pacific Airways’ stakeholders were in an adverse state in 2010 during the volcanic cloud disruption in Iceland, Europe. Passengers, business clients, staff and management of the Asian airline company were negatively affected by the suspension of flights due to the volcanic ash clouds (Azhar, 2010). With this kind of chaos, proper communication is critical in order to minimise the impact and effectively deal with the situation so that loss is prevented or reduced. Methods used for communicating in these situations should provide fast, accessible and effective results. Methods of Communication As a CI specialist in this scenario, clear and effective communication will be essential as one has to come up with intelligence which will help the organisation handle this situation in manner that will minimise the risk presented by this disaster. Cathay Pacific’s Clients, will definitely require current awareness services to be updated on developments regarding the status of the ash clouds so that they may take decisions swiftly regarding the resuming of flights. These alert services should however be led by the CI team to ensure the quality and effectiveness of the intelligence. This method of communication is actually the most significant as the strategic management of Cathay Pacific needs to be able to monitor developments regarding how the competitors in the airline industry are responding to the latest developments. By being able to frequently be aware of changes in the environment, the management will be able to take accurate and responsive decisions (Murphy, 2016).

Since it is not quite likely that the executives might be in one place all the time: communication technologies through internal networks may be used for urgent meetings which therefore requires the information and analysis products to be in a format compatible for intranets.

The basic intelligence in existing knowledge banks could be used from analysed data of places prone to ash cloud disruptions and places which alternative routes may be used. This, basic intelligence may come from industry, trends, competitor profiles and those who are knowledgeable of how to help the organisation to approach the situation effectively (Murphy, 2016). Targeted intelligence in this scenario could be intelligence from responses from other airlines to suspend flights until the skies clear where Cathay Pacific formulates a response by arranging with other allies to see if they can’t use another route before they also suspend their flights (Azhar, 2010). This method could be used however, it may present some limitations due to time constraints and limited resources. Since it is usually presented in a report, it makes us also assume that it takes time and it is not as agile as the current awareness services.

Criteria used for reports

When formulating a Competitive intelligence report, there certain criteria to follow in order that the intelligence is delivered in an effective but concise manner to support decision makers. In this scenario, the criteria by Murphy (2016) may be applied as follows.

  • Brevity
  • When formulating a report, it is essential to make sure that only important intelligence is presented and that information is succinct. This means that instead of giving the full story, rather provide key points which are clear enough for the decision makers to comprehend. In Cathay Pacific airlines’ situation, the information in the report could highlight the following: risk or opportunities the company is facing, alternative solutions to flight arrangements which other competitors are using, total estimates of loss from the analysis or recommendations in less than two pages. – Format and style Depending on the clients’ requests the format of the report will be guided according to who will be using the report – if the clients require a technical report, the style of writing and format will consist of technical terms and information which is technical in nature. However, if the clients require a simple general overview report then the report should be formulated accordingly. The structure of the report should be coherent and adapted according to the audience in order for it to invite interest as well as give the clients a “story” about the situation.

  • Focus on findings and conclusions that could support decisions
  • To give the audience (clients) what they came for, the focus of the report should be largely on findings and conclusions from the analysis. The findings and conclusion should be in state which makes them enticing to use in decision making. The conclusions should make the clients feel confident that the decision they take will be informed and steer Cathay Pacific out of chaos.

  • Objectivity, consistency, timeliness, relevance and concise
  • When preparing a report, it is important for the analyst to avoid subjectivity and bias in his conclusions and findings. The report should show a high level of consistency with regards to structure format style and focus. If the report is not timely and relevant, it will defeat the purpose of CI. The content should be relevant to the KITs and KINs of Cathay Pacific’s competitive objectives of surviving this disaster. If the analysis is accurate, concise and is of high quality, Cathay Pacific airline will be resilient to disruptions when they make use of the intelligence in decision making (Mul]ler, 2003).

  • Usable conclusions and inclusion of evidence
  • The reports’ conclusions should not just be nice-to-read but should be usable in such a way that it is able to change the decision makers’ behaviour or affect a course of action. Including evidence in the report, gives more credibility to the report and may work towards convincing the clients to use the report.

Style and Product used for reporting and disseminating

The style in which the analysed data will be delivered should be evaluated and selected against the criteria as well as the audience. The nature of the Key Intelligence Needs (KINs) will also guide the style. The style is not only limited to a written report but there are other styles to apply such as: briefings, news briefs, intelligence alerts and company profiles. There are however, general competitive intelligence guidelines like maintaining ethical practice, and careful minding of language used (Muller, 2003). Among the various styles of reporting and disseminating, Intelligence alerts would be most suitable in Cathay Pacific airlines’ scenario. Due to the urgency and sensitivity of the situation brought about by the volcanic ash disruptions, the company needs to be on its toes regarding intelligence in order to assist decision makers timely. The products which could be used here could be emails or printed newsletters. Setting up groups on online services such as Wiki could also be effective for very brief reports. These alerts help the decision makers be proactive or stay updated, to make their efforts agile and responsive instead of passive. Applying this style will require the report to be extremely concise and accurate in order to help the organisation develop rapid counteractive responses which will reduce the impact of the disruption (Muller, 2003). Briefings are great because their involve interacting with clients in person which reduces a risk of communication barriers to understanding one another. However unlike written briefs or intelligence alerts the style requires an arranged sitting.

An example could be a meeting in a board room or a conference call via Skype. Comprehensive company profiles are when the intelligence unit formulates profiles of competitors in the market and their: suppliers, future strategies, weak and strong points. The aim is to be able benchmark and evaluate the market in order to see where the company is positioned. In the volcanic disruption case, it will however not be relevant to use this product and style for CI dissemination. Competitive intelligence estimates are regarded by as the most comprehensive intelligence products which are able to give scenarios and predictions of how the competitive environment will develop in future. This product could be used by Cathay Pacific’s CI team however the situation requires intelligence more urgently. This product could be disseminated using figures, graphs, projections and infographs.

CONCLUSION

This assignment has showed me the importance of properly reporting and disseminating when an organisation is facing challenges in the market environment. When reporting, it is critical to know your target as they will guide the method used in reporting and disseminating. The criteria for reporting is essential and one needs to apply the criteria effectively according to the situation at hand. Without proper reporting and dissemination the whole purpose of CI analysis will be defeated.

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