A global manufacturer of complex equipment was alarmed by a quickly growing competitor. The competitor’s products were high quality, and they had a good supply of spare parts and efficient logistics.
Our client had no knowledge of where the competitor was manufacturing the product, what went into it, or how much they were paying for components.
They tasked us with answering two questions:
How did the competitor build such a good product?
Who supplied the components?
Sourcing the competitor’s device
All Aqute projects start with a wide-ranging search for published information. In this case, while there was some material about the competitor, there was nothing about their suppliers. As we suspected the suppliers to be in India, this lack of information was not surprising.
Our first task was to buy the competitor’s devices, so it could be examined for clues about the component manufacturers. We eventually found a device for sale in the Middle East.
Examining this device revealed several component manufacturers. Our analyst in India started a wave of primary intelligence gathering to analyze the suppliers, understand the quality of their operations, profile their strengths and weaknesses and map their capabilities against our client’s own suppliers. Physical monitoring of the suppliers’ plants told us who their logistics providers were, as we saw delivery vehicles driving in and out.
Sweeping the competitor’s ecosystem
We were lucky that this project coincided with industry events in Asia and Europe that we could attend. Working our way around the exhibitors at these events, we amassed a horde of intelligence about other component suppliers to the competitors, and the terms on which these components were being sold. Some of the suppliers also discussed the exclusivity or otherwise of their contracts, and pricing details.
Finally, our conversations with users of the device allowed us to report on its strengths and weaknesses, as well as users’ satisfaction with the quality of the product.
Responding to the competitor
Our intelligence demonstrated that the competitor had a better supply chain, which made their product cheaper and allowed easier sourcing of spare parts.
Armed with Aqute’s competitive intelligence, our client was able to:
Lower their own manufacturing costs
Focus their marketing on quality rather than pricing
Secure investment approval for an improved spare parts distribution plant that became a revenue generator.