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I am always excited to find in my inbox, the writings, and musings of Babette Bensoussan. With her permission, I would like to share her excellent piece on making decisions and making the right decision and what the caveats are along the way.

Babette Bensoussan’s way with words and thoughts always grab my attention. The latest jewel landed in my inbox this morning. I love this Babette and am sharing!

Competition is part of business. One way of standing out from the competition and catching the customer's interest is to be or do something different. This is done by defining a unique selling proposition (USP): The one thing that makes your business better or different from the competition.

RUNNING INTO THE FOG

IBIS heard through AuroraWDC about this talk by Mike Moh on finding opportunities within every challenge. “Learn about the successes and roadblocks Mike has faced as an Asian American in the movie industry, the joy he finds in being underestimated, and how he has managed to create a thriving martial arts school in the small town of Waunakee, WI against all odds” says Arik and Derek Johnson of AuroraWDC who co-hosted the event. Listen here: https://aurorawdc.com/mike-moh-july-6-2021/ 

Ever since the World Trade Organisation Chairs Programme (WCP) was launched at the North-West University (NWU) some years ago within the TRADE research focus area, Africa has remained a key focus area for the WCP’s research and outreach activities. Although Africa is known to have the potential to become an economic powerhouse and trading hub, many trade opportunities remain untapped because countries often lack the means to identify them. Trade initiatives, though, cannot succeed in the absence of reliable information about export and supplier markets and related product opportunities. “Through the Chairs Programme we have been able to reach out to other WTO Chairs and contacts on the continent, working together to find new ways of unlocking trade potential, particularly at the regional level,” said Prof Wilma Viviers, WTO Chair holder since 2014. Dr Marie-Luce Kuhn from IBIS is proud to be part of the TRADE research team. Read more about the TRADE Research Focus Area here http://commerce.nwu.ac.za/trade

Prof Viviers has led a number of trade-related research and outreach initiatives on the continent, with the WCP team’s work in Rwanda, Cameroon and Tunisia being particularly interesting and rewarding. In each of these initiatives, the TRADE-DSM (Decision Support Model) market selection tool has been a core feature. Using the power of big data to reveal high-potential export opportunities, the TRADE-DSM is a cost-effective means of pinpointing export opportunities, which helps governments, industry sectors and businesses streamline and add certainty to their export market development efforts. Dr Richard Newfarmer, country director of the International Growth Center in Washington DC and also WCP Advisory Board member, says: “One of the unsung virtues of the WTO Chairs Programme has been its catalytic role in prompting South-South discussions on trade and cross-country learning. I was delighted to enlist the South African team’s support to provide analysis to Rwandan officials, and their 172-page report proved to be of enormous value.”

Rwanda is often held up as an example to the rest of Africa of what can be achieved when a country’s leadership has a strong growth and development mind-set. However, Rwanda faces significant challenges on the trade front as it is landlocked and its economy lacks diversity. The WCP team’s work with Rwandan policymakers is intended to help the country work through its challenges and boost its potential as a regional supplier. Using the TRADE-DSM, the WCP team has identified the top 25 products with export potential (in terms of value), spanning 16 different sectors. Prof Viviers and Mr Martin Cameron from Trade Advisory are working with the government of Cameroon and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, providing inputs for the revitalisation of Cameroon’s Industrialisation Plan, within the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area. Using the TRADE-DSM, Prof Viviers and Mr Cameron have been tasked to assess the trade potential of Cameroonian products in different markets (in the light of prevailing tariff and non-tariff barriers, and political and commercial risk). They are due to present a final report on their findings in March 2021. Prof Viviers and the WCP team are also collaborating with the WTO Chair in Tunisia in a three-year, bilateral research project aimed at identifying trade opportunities between South African and Tunisian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The focus on SMEs is particularly significant, given their economic importance and potential in both countries as well as the fact that they often find it difficult to pursue trade opportunities because of limited knowledge and resources. The project has a developmental element to it, aimed at preparing selected groups of SMEs in each country to leverage the identified bilateral export opportunities through information sharing, direct engagement and capacity-building.

Market Noise

“In the age of too much data and too few breakthroughs, market “noise” is the biggest challenge for executives and managers. Finding growth opportunities requires a powerful filter.

Office-On-The-Go

On the same theme of being new and different or how businesses are facilitating new ways of working that keep staff creative, productive and happy and healthy physically and mentally? Here is the story of a Dutch concept of an office on a bicycle frame that takes office work out and about.

According to Erik Glitman CEO of Fletcher/CSI, the new normal requires new tools to navigate and gain a competitive advantage. “This requires that businesses make decisions that are informed by secondary data, and targeted primary research.

“Competitive advertising is a well-established practice in our modern media landscape. As the intensity of competition rises, so, too, does the difficulty of earning and maintaining the attention of your prospects.

The new Crayon State of CI report is out. There were a few interesting outcomes. In summary (you can read the full report here https://www.crayon.co/blog/new-data-competitive-intelligence-increases-revenue) and this is wow for me, a professional intelligence practitioner, is that CI programs are growing fast, and have become more important to their companies than ever before. Whereas in 2020, 58% of businesses indicated that they had CI teams of two or more dedicated professionals, that figure rose to 70% — a 21% year-over-year increase in the number of businesses with CI teams of two or more people. Crayon says: “There is no better indication of importance within a company than the dedication of additional headcount and resources to a certain department — especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding economic hardship. By rapidly growing their CI teams and budgets, companies are shouting from the rooftops that they know competitive intelligence to be an increasingly important investment. ITWeb report that we are all data scientists now. “News programmes have been obsessing about data in a way that's never happened before, and data is more than ever in the public eye. We are also generating lots of data today, and are aiming towards gaining wisdom and knowledge that can be used to heal the situation which is has been so difficult for so many people, during this COVID-19 pandemic.: The founder of Data Relish, Jen Stirrup speaks of an “infodemic.” So how can we make better sense of the truth in a world swamped by data and information, disinformation and misinformation – what tools are there to help us to navigate. CI and AI certainly rank up there amongst the best. Do invest in this in whichever shape of form your company can afford to do.

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