What is environmental scanning?

Screening large amounts of information to detect emerging trends and create a set of scenarios.

The founding team at Merit Trac one of the fastest growing young companies, which carries out Competence Assessment and Pre-recruitment. Processing tests for some of the largest IT and BPO companies, know the importance of environmental scanning. The business opportunity in the frenzied hiring that was going on at IT companies in Bangalore in 2000. The unarticulated in the market for assessment services, for IT companies who were struggling to keep pace with the huge manpower demands and large attrition rates.

Together with two friends, one recruiter reviewed the entire pre-recruitment assessment process and formulated a business plan for a company to which larger organizations could outsource their recruitment assessment needs. Today, MeritTrac boasts of a client list that includes Wipro, ICICI OneSource, Accenture, Adobe, Cognizant, Computer Associates, Dell, Google, HP, Microsoft, Oracle, Progeon, and IBM.

Like the founders of MeritTrac, managers in both small and large organizations are increasingly turning to environmental scanning to anticipate and interpret changes in their environment. The term refers to screening large amounts of information to detect merging trends and cerate a set of scenarios. Some evidence indicates that companies that scan the environment achieve higher profit and revenue growth than companies that don’t. The importance of environmental scanning was first Agency or National Security Agency) by firms in the life insurance industry in the late 1970s. Life insurance companies found that the demand for their products was declining even though all the key environmental signals strongly favored the sale of life insurance. The economy and population were growing. Baby boomers were finishing school, entering the labor force, and getting married. The market for life insurance should have been expanding, but it wasn’t. The insurance companies had filed to recognize fundamental change in family structure in the United States.

Young families, who represented the primary group of buyers of new insurance policies, tended to be dual career couples who were increasingly choosing to remain childless for a longer time. The life insurance needs of a family with one income, a dependent spouse, and a houseful of kids are much greater than those of a two income family with few, if any, children. That multibillion dollar industry could overlook such a fundamental social trend underscored the need to develop techniques for monitoring important environmental developments.

How is Competitive intelligence useful?

Accurate information about competitors that allows managers to anticipate competitors’ actions rather than merely react to them

One of the fastest growing areas of environmental scanning is competitive intelligence. It seeks basic information about competitors: Who are they? What are they doing? How will what they are doing affect us? As managers worldwide are realizing accurate information about the competition allows them to anticipate competitors’ actions rather than merely react to them.

Many who study competitive intelligence suggest that much of the competitor related information an organization needs in order to make crucial strategic decision is available and accessible to the public. In other words, competitive intelligence isn’t organizational espionage. Advertisements promotional materials, press releases, reports filed with government agencies, annual reports want ads, newspaper reports, information on the Internet, and industry studies are readily accessible sources of information. Specific information on an industry an associated organization is increasingly available through electronic database. Managers can literally tap into a wealth of competitive information by purchasing access to databases like Prowess and First Source sold by CMIE (Center for Monitoring Indian Economy) and companies like Evalueserv and Value Notes that have entered the KPO domain or through information on the corporate Web sites. Trade shows and the debriefing of your own sales staff can be good sources of information on competitors. Many organizations even regularly buy competitors’ products and ask their own employees to evaluate them to learn about new technical innovations.

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