Survey of U.S. tech executives shows only one-third formally track and assess competition despite growing concerns about competitive intensity

REDWOOD SHORES, Calif., Feb. 24, 2005 A new world order of competition is emerging in the global technology and telecommunications industries. But most North American companies are not keeping pace with the changes, according to a new study conducted by two executive thought leadership organizations, in cooperation with global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney. In fact, two-thirds of the more than 300 North American executives surveyed say they have not even instituted formal practices for tracking and analyzing their competition.

The study, Crunch Time: The Competitiveness Audit, was conducted in late 2004 and early 2005 for the Business Performance Management (BPM) Forum and Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) Council. Its findings were announced here today at the A.T. Kearney Global Tech+Telecom Competitiveness Summit. The study shows North American executives are acutely aware of increasing global competition. Approximately 90 percent of survey respondents said they expect competition in their sector to intensify in the next two years. Less than one percent anticipate a decline.

The study underscores a dramatic realignment of global competition, including the rapid rise of China and India as important new centers of competition. In fact, U.S. executives point to China as a source of competition over the next two years nearly as often as they do other U.S. companies.

North American companies are increasingly turning to offshore operations and outsourcing as a means of coping with overseas competition, the study found. While respondents cite the cost of skilled labor as the most important factor driving offshoring decisions, it’s not the only one. Access to local markets, innovation capacity and speed, and access to intellectual capital also were identified as important drivers.

“U.S. companies risk falling behind global forces that are reshaping the competitive landscape in technology and telecommunications,” said John Ciacchella, a vice president in A.T. Kearney’s High Technology Practice. “The shift from enterprise to consumer, new global players from China and India, industry consolidation, and next wave technologies, such as VoIP, digital media, 3G, broadband to the home and WiFi/WiMax – are all factors driving big dislocations in the market. U.S. executives clearly feel the pressure of these changes and most rate their efforts to respond as fair to good. This is not good enough. Too few are putting in place the formal processes needed to adequately assess, act and measure their progress in this more intense competitive environment.”

Respondents said their competitors have become larger, more agile, more numerous – and decidedly more international. Yet, only about one third indicate their companies have instituted formal processes or developed a formal function for assessing their company’s competitive position in their industry. Some 54 percent of respondents said “informal discussions as a part of business meetings” constituted their approach to measuring competitiveness. Surprisingly, the lack of a structured and disciplined approach to competitive assessment was even more pronounced among larger companies with revenues of $500 million or more.

Of those respondents who rated the competitive preparedness of their companies, about 47 percent rated it as good or above average, and 53 percent rated it as average or below.

North American executives point to a series of trends influencing the competitive landscape. Chief among them: emerging technologies, industry consolidation, new entrants into their markets, and the emergence of new geographic markets.

Asked to identify the three countries where they expect to see the greatest competitive challenges over the next two years, approximately 63 percent named the United States, 59 percent named China, and 45 percent named India. Korea and the United Kingdom were tied for a distant fourth at 14.6 percent each, followed by Germany with 13.5 percent. Indicative of the shifting balance of power in the global technology industry, only 11.5 percent identified Japan, which had long been considered a technology powerhouse.

Respondents to the A.T. Kearney Crunch Time survey identified three disciplines as nearly equal in importance to improve competitiveness: product and service innovation, improving customer intimacy and experience, and strengthening overall strategic positioning. Three other disciplines – managing operational complexity, managing a company’s organization, culture and leadership, and optimizing capital deployment and governance – were rated as significantly less important.

“Many overseas technology companies excel today in the very disciplines that North American executives say are crucial to driving competitive performance in their industry sectors,” said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the BPM Forum. “Indian IT outsourcing companies like Infosys and Wipro have built exceptional customer intimacy and dependency with North American customers. Chinese companies such as Lenovo and Huawei have established strong strategic positions and brands in markets traditionally dominated by U.S. companies. Korean multinationals, such as Samsung, are now leaders in product innovation.”

While respondents say product and service innovation remain the most critical elements of competitive success in technology and telecommunications, their approach to innovation appears to be conservative. Asked to identify the most important actions their companies are taking to improve product innovation, some 71 percent pointed to improvement of existing products and services, followed by bundling product and service offerings (52 percent) and continuous investment in R&D (48 percent). Investments in new products and services outside of the core business ranked fifth, with only 29 percent of respondents choosing this as one of their top three actions.

“At a time when emerging competitors are going global and consolidation is happening in both software and hardware markets, U.S. companies are trying to protect their core business first and foremost,” said Ciacchella. “The question is whether this approach is too conservative when traditional market segmentations like PCs, TVs, phones, music players, enterprise software, etc., are breaking down due to the impact of new technologies and companies are using these technologies to change the marketplace. For instance, Apple with music, Microsoft with the recently released media center for home entertainment and Delphi with myXM. U.S. companies will need to be more innovative in how they leverage these technologies not just to make their products better, but to fundamentally change the customer experience.”

The report also questions the low priority executives give to managing operational complexity and optimizing capital deployment as requirements for competitive success. Both of these factors have tremendous impact on a company’s ability to expand and grow, the report says.

A.T. Kearney ( www.atkearney.com) is one of the world’s largest management consulting firms. With a global presence that includes more than 60 offices in 37 countries, spanning major and emerging markets, A.T. Kearney provides strategic, operational, organizational and technology consulting and executive search services to the world’s leading companies. A.T. Kearney is the high-value management consulting subsidiary of global business and technology services leader EDS.

About the BPM Forum
The BPM Forum is a high-level, thought leadership forum that targets senior level executives in operations, finance and information technology, as well as those serving on corporate boards worldwide. The Forum helps advance the understanding of business performance management techniques, technologies, and processes in global enterprises. Heightened concerns with corporate governance and accountability have created growth opportunities in the market for BPM solutions — expected to grow to $20 billion by 2005. The ability for enterprises to collectively engage in the process of embracing business performance management practices and solutions has become a critical corporate mandate. Driven by demands for improved operational dexterity and corporate governance, the BPM Forum helps research, develop and promote cutting-edge methods to strengthen financial management disciplines, drive performance accountability, tighten budgeting and planning practices, strengthen operational visibility and insight, and ensure performance improvements across large organizations.

More than 500 companies are currently represented as members of the BPM Forum which is sponsored by Hyperion, accounting for well over $400 billion in aggregated annual revenues. These include: ACL Services, Accenture, Ameritrade, Bank of America, BearingPoint, Inc, Biz360, Booz Allen Hamilton, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Canon, Chordiant, Citgo, Citrix Systems, Inc., CNL Hotels and Resorts, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Deloitte Touche, Daimler Chrysler, Fidelity Investments, FileNet, Fujitsu, The Gap, GEAC, General Electric, Harper Collins Publishers, Hewlett Packard, Hitachi, JP Morgan Chase, IBM, ICN Pharmaceuticals, Inc., National Scientific Corporation, Oracle, Phelps Dodge Corporation, Pinnacle Technology Partners, Inc., Porsche, PPG Industries, Inc, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Quest Industries, Inc., Sabre-Holdings, Safeway, Inc., Saks Incorporated, San Jose State University, Siebel, Singapore Power, Southwest Airlines, Staples, Inc., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., Stratascope, Inc., Sun Microsystems, Symantec, T. Rowe Price, TCF National Bank, TD Bank Financial, TEK Digitel, Tickets.com, Toshiba America, Tyco International, Verizon and many more.

About the CMO Council
The CMO Council is a global affinity network dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior marketing and brand decision-makers in the global technology industry. Based in Silicon Valley, the Council works to further the stature, credibility, influence, and understanding of the strategic marketing function among business executives, opinion leaders and critical stakeholders in the technology sector. Nearly 1,200 technology companies are currently represented on the CMO Council, accounting for well over $500 billion in aggregated annual revenues. These include top decision-makers controlling more than $45 billion in global marketing expenditures for many of the world’s foremost computer systems, software, networking, communications, consumer electronics, component, distribution, and consulting brands. For more information, please visit our web site at www.cmocouncil.org .

The CMO Council is represented through regional chapters which convene in technology centers worldwide under the auspices and administration of GlobalFluency, the Independent Network of Influence. Spearheaded by Silicon Valley-based Neale-May & Partners‚ GlobalFluency consists of 84 offices employing over 350 professionals in 65 countries. Together‚ these organizations represent more than $50 million in billings from scores of clients across the information technology‚ communications‚ systems integration and Internet service sectors. More information is available at www.globalfluency.com.