Tag Archives: Weak signals

Competitive intelligence and strategic surprises: Why monitoring weak signals is not the right approach

The difficulty of anticipating strategic surprises is often ascribed to a ‘signal-to-noise’ problem, i.e. to the inability to pick up so-called ‘weak signals’ that foretell such surprises.  In fact, monitoring of weak signals has become a staple of competitive intelligence.  This is all the more so since the development of information technology that allows the accumulation and quasi-automatic processing of massive amount of data.  The idea is that the identification of weak signals will enable an organization to detect a problem (or an opportunity) early and, hence, to react more quickly and more appropriately.  For instance, a firm can detect a change in attitude of consumer behavior by spending time with the most advanced of them, as Nokia did in the early 1990s, a move that enabled the firm to realize that the mobile phone was becoming a fashion item.

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