Many of the tasks carried out in the area of market analysis and market research have such specialisation that the best results can be achieved when there is a cooperation between internal and external market intelligence experts. So, if the company employs personnel responsible for, for example, collecting and analysing data or market research, it does not have to give up the benefits of a fresh ideas from external specialists. And vice versa, if so-far someone from outside the organisation’s structures has always performed such tasks, it is worth considering whether involvement in the process of an inhouse team will bring additional benefits.
When cooperation between internal and external market intelligence experts is beneficial?
Here are examples of tasks in which employees and their external colleagues can jointly develop important benefits for the company:
- employees of the company do not have enough time or want to speed up processes – e.g. they cannot spend time on tedious searching for and verifying diverse market data sources, but after gaining the access they want to conduct further analyses by themselves,
- the company has no competences in a given area – e.g. the company employs market analysts who can prepare development forecasts but has no experience or knowledge necessary to acquire and harmonise market data,
- the task requires knowledge about both the company and its environment – e.g. data on sales and customers is provided by the company’s staff and the external entity conducts research of the target group, combines data and develops recommendations,
- the task is carried out for the first time in a given organisation – e.g. an expert develops a course of action and teaches an internal team how to deal with similar situations in the future,
- the task consists of developing a new concept based on the information available – e.g. an external expert analyses data received from the company, makes a diagnosis and proposes the best-suited solution in the market intelligence area,
- the task requires the use of technologies or tools not available inside the company – e.g. an external partner uses its specialised methodologies to create reliable market forecasts for the next few years,
- the task requires adapting the solution to company’s specific situation – e.g. an external company provides a reliable analysis of competition and proposes actions that can distinguish the organisation from the competition, and internal staff develops on this basis a strategy for increasing market share,
- the task requires overcoming the internal resistance to change – e.g. the company’s staff refers to an external expert to initiate changes and obtain the approval of all decision-makers within the company.
How to achieve a synergy effect from combining competencies of employees and external experts?
A project carried out jointly by internal and external experts has a greater chance of success when:
- the cooperation is well organised and structured,
- the responsibility for individual tasks of the project is clearly divided,
- there is a specific goal and effect of the cooperation,
- sharing knowledge and ideas happens as often as possible and is as in-depth as possible,
- the relationships are characterised by trust, objectivity and openness,
- there is no unhealthy competition between experts.
Considering cooperation with an external expert, companies often wonder how they should separate strategic and operational tasks. There is no one right solution, because it depends on the purpose, competences and costs related to hiring an employee and an external specialist.
Sometimes, therefore, the company will be responsible for time-consuming and repetitive activities related to data collection, and an external specialist will draw conclusions and recommendations. Another time, an external expert will devote time to tediously reaching out to the data missing in the company, and the internal strategist will analyse them and use them to create company development plans. A common and beneficial solution is joint work on both operational and strategic work. It leads to the synergy effect that emerges from the combination of internal and external competencies.
When it comes to cooperation between internal and external market intelligence experts, one key principle should be always kept in mind.
The company and its management always make decisions and are responsible for the strategy. An external specialist may suggest solutions and implement changes, but the organisation accepts (or does not) proposals and bears the responsibility and consequences of the decision.