RATP Dev, Promométro, SEDP, Telcité, Logis-Transport, Ixxi, Systra and of course, the epic RATP (Greater Paris transport system), the structure which brings together all of the subsidiaries and transport networks in the Ile de France (Greater Paris) area. The market intelligence department supports all of these organisations from the property valuation department to purchasing and logistics. This was not the case in 2011 before the first market intelligence project was put in place, led by the Transversal Services Department of RATP. Ever since the project has grown, supported by the two historical information resource management services linked respectively to the legal and engineering departments, but also responding to market intellgence needs across the group.
We don't yet work with all group departments, but step by step we demonstrate the results which have been achieved and show others the importance of carrying out market intelligence in a different way.
Manager of the market intelligence department
Fewer tools and more resource sharing
By taking over the existing monitoring projects, our first step was to reduce the number of different tools used within the group. One outsourced solution was abandonned even though it was frequently used. The market intelligence department uses the Sindup Saas solution. "Monitoring for market intelligence is a repetitive process, the requirements need to be reexamined regularly" explains the manager. "Certain subjects were studied on the basis of requirements established three years ago and never updated".
Certain topics have been taken over by the MI department and in other cases the solution identified was to share resources. Certain types of information are collected by the MI department and shared with other departments to enrich their knowledge and their own market intelligence. "We are not trying to take over or centralised everything. For certain very specific or scientific topics, it makes more sense for the surveillance to be carried out by the department who is specialised in the subject" explains Lucie Merckens.
From competitive intelligence to project monitoring
Today the MI department comprises three members and manages around 20 core topics, including three which are shared with the two other information centres. Competitive, strategic, sales, suppliers intelligence, and also, in a sector which is changing very rapidly and a company which needs to adapt to the opening out to private competition, intelligence to help improve sector culture and knowledge.
In addition to these key topics, monitoring of projects has been put in place following the example of those implemented for RATP Dev, the subsidiary in charge of development for the group in France, excluding the historical network and international development.
As soon as the group decides to participate in a tender, very early on in the project a surveillance is put in place in order to carry out preparatory work in the target area and facilitate the adaptation of the teams to the area and the project. This includes summaries about the actors already in place, key words to use in order to collect the right information, websites to monitor, transport or urban development news and even the monitoring of key political figures on Twitter. This is a repetitive process which needs to be carried out in close collaboration with relevant departments. The MI department doesn't implement any topics without a business initiative.
"We respond to an internal request", indicates the manager. "This must be legitimate and well articulated to avoid repeating the same topics which are already in place and we must ensure that the objectives are the right ones".
Once the topic has been chosen and formalised, the acculturation phase begins for the MI department. This is an important step which lasts between 2 and 3 weeks and concludes with the writing of a summary report. "Bit by bit and by feeding back regularly with the internal client, we get to the right information." Next we get to the implementation of the sources and the queries and the first steps of information collection. "This allows us to confirm with the field experts that we have fully understood the subject and that the content is relevant" says Lucie Merckens. "When we don't understand a topic very well our first results are naturally very broad, but little by little we get to the right type of information by feeding back to the expert and internal client. Every 8 months or so we meet with the internal client to ensure that the information meets requirements. "In spite of our tight processes, the results tend to divert from the original scope" adds the manager. Furthermore a monitoring topic doesn't last forever. Once the topic has been understood experts will often move to another subject. Finally, two or three times a year the team carries out a review to ensure that the sources are still working correctly, or indeed look into adding new key words or new sources."
Making the project durable
In order to help change internal practices, the MI department also has a role which aims to bring together all the different members of the monitoring and intelligence community. Two or three times per year a half-day event is organised to bring everybody together. This is a time to exchange ideas and more and more companies in the group come to share their experience and their solutions. The key objective is to make the group project durable. To continue internal promotion a regular newsletter is sent by the MI department to the whole company. A second project is to facilitate the sharing of information. Today more than 90% is shared by newsletter. Newsletters have to be reworked by analysts to make the first sentences relevant and catchy after the first few lines are integrated automatically by Sindup. "70% of our readers only read the title and the heading" explains Lucie Merckens. It's a repetitive task but essential in maintaining quality and keeping our readers onboard."
While readers prefer newsletters, the MI department is working on implementing a sharing platform. "This would allows us to offer a system of alerts to ensure that the results are shared in a more direct and selective manner" explains the manager. "The MI department also needs to prepare for the emergence of collaborative solutions. RATP Dev has implemented Yammer to communicate with international teams, and already uses this network. Other requests to facilitate on the field information and collaborative monitoring projects are also in the pipeline. "We are testing tools that match with our corporate social network, our monitoring platform and the sharing of information" concludes the manager.