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Describe competitive landscape: impact to firms in your community over next 5 years

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Choose several firms in your community and describe their competitive landscape, and how you see it impacting their operations over the next five years.

Further, given the importance of understanding the external environment, why do you think some firms fail in this area - be specific?

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In a 5023 word solution, the response is a very thorough explanation of the issues posed in the problem.

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Competitive Landscape of Companies

Product lifecycles are collapsing. New market-dominating products, as well as differentiated enhancements to existing product lines, in record time are a competitive necessity. Existing engineering and business applications have optimized specific points in the product development process. Outsourcing component manufacture has reduced costs. However, the next point of inflexion in the manufacturing world is to bring suppliers together with the manufacturers to jointly conceive and develop next generation products. Most product lifecycle costs are committed within the product concept definition phase - streamlining this phase results in major competitive advantage.


Therefore, there is a global need for early supplier involvement. One way of accomplishing this is through: digitally integrating technical and business processes, digitally sharing and exchanging ideas, digitally mocking-up next generation products from a viewpoint of all disciplines involved in the product definition.


The way organizations differentiate themselves in the 21st century - manufacturers and suppliers exchanging core knowledge to digitally define and develop market differentiated products in record time.


If you learn what your rivals are not doing, you may find new business opportunities for yourself.
In the global, highly competitive paint and powder industry, competitors often are viewed as adversaries to be outsmarted. It is especially threatening when business rivals are going after your target markets with products similar to yours. But savvy company leaders also know how to harvest the competitive landscape for new business growth opportunities.

The traditional approach is to learn what your competitors are doing now, predict their near-term plans, and try to improve on those actions for your own company. This knowledge can be helpful, for example, to pinpoint production efficiencies you should adopt or to rush an emerging product to market before your rivals do.


But in the highly regulated and technology-driven paint and powder industry, it is not enough to compete based on existing assets. Growth comes from new products, processes and markets. Traditional market research methods - industry surveys, R&D projections, trend analysis and commercially available industry reports - are limited in revealing the most promising growth opportunities. Traditional methods tell you what your competitors are doing or planning down the road, but not what they may have overlooked on the way. Yet the areas competitors have neglected may represent an untapped gold mine of opportunities for you.

The Big Picture

So how does one go about identifying what the competition is overlooking? The key is to start by looking at everything except what the competition is doing. That is because starting with a competitive assessment tends to narrow the analysis to what is, rather that what could be.

A new method called Disruptive Market Research is helping industrial and high-tech companies go beyond the competitive landscape to find business opportunities. The method uses a systematic, holistic, iterative approach. It looks across an array of industry members with different perspectives on opportunities. It repeatedly takes insights from one part of the industry and plays them off another part, which increases creative thinking and raises confidence in the resulting market forecasts.

Disruptive Market Research is designed to identify truly new or disruptive innovations rather than incremental product improvements. It was developed over the course of 120 projects, mostly for industrial and high-tech markets.

The method involves conducting a new type of highly motivating and collaborative interviews of industry leaders, suppliers, distributors, competitors and customers. Just as anthropologists must develop and evaluate concepts across all levels of a culture, Disruptive Market Research captures the thoughts, perceptions and decision criteria across all levels of a market. Four dimensions that define a market include the stages of a value chain from raw goods to finished product; levels of a distribution channel from manufacturer through various distributors; role in the market, including industry experts, competitors, distributors and customers; and decision-maker type from the technical to the executive level. These dimensions are examined across a range of markets such as architectural vs. industrial coatings, and across time.

What motivates interviewees to respond? Researchers immediately involve them in identifying the symptoms of unsolved problems and then engage them in solution-oriented brainstorming. The method results in response rates as high as 85 percent, overcoming the challenge of inadequate representation found in methods such as focus groups, expert panels and surveys.
Once Disruptive Market Researchers have identified promising opportunities, they often use existing industry information to dig deeper. Surveys can help refine pricing and distribution strategies. Trade shows and product demonstrations can help test target markets. But problem-focused, in-depth interviews remain the backbone of the research. In addition, the methodology uses several principles to assess the competition.


In defining competitors, it is important to avoid marketing myopia. Look at competition from the consumer's perspective: How else can they solve their problem, other than using a product or service from you or your rivals?

One example is an emerging technology that creates films of extremely thin polymer layers. It has superior oxygen and water barrier properties. If a business developing this technology defines itself as a film maker, the competition would be makers of high-performance films, such as for packaging. But if the product is defined more broadly as an oxygen-impermeable barrier, the material could be used to coat plastic that would replace glass, or metals such as foils, thus expanding the competition to glass and foil producers. This broader view of competitors also expands potential markets.

Use a top-of-mind awareness technique with customers, asking them to describe ways they have tried to solve the problem of interest, then go on to learn which companies provide these solutions. For example, quantitative data may show a dozen providers of your technology, but if customers mention only three suppliers, those three are your real competition. A space these competitors have not entered can mean opportunity for you.

Indirect Approach

Once you have defined the set of competing products or services, it is time to approach companies for information. How do you get information when direct competitors are reluctant to talk with you about their plans?

Talk with businesses that sell products or services that complement yours. For example, a company supplying powder-coating materials could talk with equipment manufacturers that make applicators, cure ovens and thermal analysis instruments. Other complementary businesses could include coatings firms for products such as cosmetics, inks and adhesives. All of these companies will have insights regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors' products and will have heard about planned products.

Another way to unearth potential opportunities is to explore emerging technologies and issues. A company interested in antimicrobial paint or biocide additives could interview actual or potential users such as food processors, health care organizations, ship builders and companies that use clean rooms to manufacture electronics or biological materials. In many cases, these potential customers will have been told by the competitors' representatives about emerging products. These customers often are highly motivated to see competition increase and are willing to share their insights and needs.

For the latest in reducing volatile organic compounds (Voss), for example, firms could ...

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