Client Benefits for Corporations
Our work enables clients to understand not just what is changing but also why change is occurring. The early awareness of change coupled with this deeper understanding allows our corporate clients to adjust their strategies as well as their tactical implementation.
Benefits for Corporations
Corporations traditionally focus on understanding their specific markets and competitive environment. However, the exponential growth of available information coupled with a virtually borderless global market has made it increasingly challenging for corporations to keep abreast of the constantly changing economic, political, social and technological factors that will impact their business. Those corporations that can effectively identify opportunities and risks before their competition maintain a significant advantage.
Our corporate clients, including Board of Directors, CEOs, CFOs, Risk Managers and Marketers, understand that real competitive advantage comes from being able to make decisions before all of the facts are known and all of the numbers have been analyzed. Our intelligence enables corporate leaders to see a broader picture of opportunities and risks in time to build consideration into their strategic decision making. These capabilities and our accuracy led Barron's to term Inferential Focus the “CEO's CIA.”
We work with our corporate clients to apply our intelligence to their decision making by providing:
- Early awareness of societal attitudinal and behavioral change
- Early warning of upcoming risk
- Subtle indicators of relevant change that might otherwise go unnoticed
- An expanded vision of economic, political, social and technological contexts impacting their business
- An understanding of why change is occurring rather than simply what is changing
- A perspective that challenges conventional wisdom
"Generally, people act before they are able to really explain their actions. This is where Inferential Focus gives us an edge – they observe behaviors of humans (or markets) and draw inferences as to the causal factors long before a trend even starts."
Formerly at Ford Motor Company
Client Application Examples
"The Gaming of Nearly Everything"
May 3, 2004
We noted that everything in real life - dating, finding a job, personal appearances, business, markets, consumers - was becoming a candidate to be "gamed." The gaming of nearly everything started in the financial realm, moved into business and then become a primary source of entertainment. We noted that poker on TV signaled public approval of deception and gaming as social realities, meaning that all organizations could be victims of gaming, or worse in terms of reputation, be perceived as gaming those they serve. We suggested this was a deep-rooted value change and would likely last for some time. It also reflected an enterprise risk if not addressed effectively.
- Franchise risk if organizational gaming practices were uncovered
- Elevated executive salaries appear unfair
- Digital capabilities expanded the reach of fraud so anyone could be a victim
Areas of potential future gaming pushback include: Housing flippers, election politics, excessive financial leverage
Video games grow in popularity
- Games grow as a marketing opportunity
- Check portfolio and internal practices for gaming risks
- Focus on areas of transparency to ease public's concern
- Reassess regulatory environments
- Ensure suppliers are not gaming the client
- Identify “gamification” early as a marketing opportunity
"Housing and the Economy"
June 17, 2005
We developed a timely and accurate perspective on a dislocation taking place in the housing market in 2004. Our intelligence suggested that what was occurring was not an isolated housing bubble but rather a much larger economic risk to the global economy. We suggested that “There Is a Lot Resting on the Housing Market." See Chart 1
From 2005 to 2007, we warned clients about both the systemic risk of mortgage-backed securities (Read the Briefing) (See Chart 2) as well as the peak of the housing market. We continued communicating about the change as it developed, keeping clients abreast of developments and new contexts – including this fable…
We laid out the vast ripple effects of the housing problem as depicted in our 2005 "Tsunami Chart." The implications put a wide swath of the economy at risk including:
- Housing-related companies
- Financial institutions and credit availability
- Consumer spending and retailers
- The U.S. stock market
- The dollar
- U.S. state and local governments
- And economies and markets elsewhere including:
- Emerging markets
- Reassess product offerings
- Reduce exposure to areas of increased risk
- Position for low interest rates
- Accumulate capital in anticipation of opportunities at the trough.
- Change asset allocations
- Consider pension devaluation
- Rethink marketing messages
- Understand new consumer spending
“Radical Unfamiliarity, Part II: Dealing with Asset Depletion and Pondering a New Standard of Living”
February 18, 2009
Leading up to the panic of September 2008, we cautioned about the impending tsunami. After society witnessed some of the most spectacular financial collapses in history, individuals and companies both faced the unknown by focusing on one imperative: Preserve what you have.
We suggested that the country was facing a different economy, a different kind of recession, and that individuals and companies would have to reconcile themselves to the new reality. We added that individuals were rethinking their lifestyles and then contextualized the actions that consumers were taking. We suggested that some of the practices would likely last beyond the end of the recession and that companies would have to adjust to this new consumer.
We used Mind Maps to lay out the vast effects of both the Consumer Reset and the Business Reset. The implications suggested new priorities for the consumer and a new way of operating for businesses. We categorized and articulated the early personal and business responses to this world of Radical Unfamiliarity:
- Full Utilization
- Value Validation
- Address new areas of opportunity
- Reassess product offerings and pricing
- Rethink marketing messages
- Consider new efficiency tools
- Reconsider employee alignment
- Rework compensation structures
- Rebalance risks and hedges