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Commercial Maturity: Theme 2 - Market Intelligence

81% of organisations globally say that commercial awareness is needed to achieve main business outcomes. And, with 8/10 councils saying they would have to raise tax or cut services without their commercial activities, this is one of the most prominent and urgent topics in the public sector.

But for many organisations, it can be difficult to know where to start. Others may struggle to reconcile the idea of being commercial with the core purpose and values of public service. The Commercial Maturity Model from Human Engine sets out six key themes that we think organisations will find helpful when adopting a commercially minded approach to solving the complex problems of today’s world.

Marketing Intelligence

From understanding your key supply markets to knowing what your competitors charge, every decision the commercially minded organisation makes will be driven by insight. Investments will be made with a long-term view of local and national contexts. Risks in key supply markets will be identified before they hit the headlines. New products and services will be developed based not just on what the organisation can do but what customers are willing to pay for.

Whether your commercial focus is on supply or demand (or you simply want to make better informed decisions), market analysis is one of the most neglected capabilities in the public sector. And one of the most vital. Here are our top tips to build your capability:

Get your house in order. We’re all discovering the potential of Big Data (for good and for harm) and we’re all looking for new sources of rich data to draw on. But don’t neglect the data that already exists within. In particular, make sure you have access to, and confidence in, data about your third party spend and income.

Use the right tools. There’s no denying you can learn a lot from a good Google but give your staff the skills and confidence to go beyond this. Do people in key roles know their Porter’s 5 Forces from their Portfolio Analysis? Do they understand their competition as well as they do their customers? There are some key technical skills that shouldn’t be neglected.

See the full picture. If you’re going to make predictions and decisions based on evidence, make sure that evidence base is as rich and full as possible. Selective evidence will lead to skewed decision making. Remember – connecting two points makes a line, not a pattern.

COUNT on yourself. In large organisations that provide diverse services, the temptation is for each department to feel it ‘owns’ the relationship with its markets. Devolving strategic accountability is fine but, when it comes to collecting and analysing data, save on the duplication – Collect Once, Use Numerous Times.

Be a Cyborg Organisation. A huge amount of the labour can be done using digital tools, artificial intelligence and predictive modelling. But we wouldn’t be Human Engine if we didn’t stress the importance of the people component – use the robots to free up your best people’s time and achieve the optimal balance of technology and human insight in your analysis.

Our 360⁰ Market Insight approach puts together a rounded view of the market by drawing on intelligence about supply markets, customers, competitors and peers. If you’re a public sector organisation on a journey of commercialisation and would like to learn more about how we can help you, get in touch at

For more insight to the power of market intelligence, see our previous article, From Outsourcing to Smartsourcing.

You might also be interested in our Commercial Academy courses aligned to this theme: Establishing Market Insight

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