Eric is the Director of Market Intelligence for Global Decision Analytics at Experian, a global leader in consumer and business credit reporting and marketing services. His team is responsible for market research, competitive intelligence, and portions of strategic planning. Decision Analytics is the part of Experian that develops and delivers B2B software that automates credit decisions, verifies identity, prevents fraud, and performs various other data-science related tasks. The group works closely with other business units and functions around the world, and their work informs everything from strategy to sales messaging. We recently spoke with Eric about where he sees CI evolving, and what he does to ensure he's focused on the right priorities for his business.
"Find ways to process what’s important and what’s not important. It’s been a lesson I’ve applied since in several ways."
Looking back, what's one piece of career advice that has been particularly valuable?
I’ll never forget working at Fender guitars in the 1990s, when the legendary Bill Schultz was CEO (he was the man who single-handedly rescued the company and brand from oblivion). I had an office with an old-school wire basket (we used to still get paper mail and memos!) One day, Schultz walked into my office and dumped the contents of my in-basket into the trash. He said, “If any of that comes back to you, pay attention to it.” His point (I think) was: find ways to process what’s important and what’s not important. It’s been a lesson I’ve applied since in several ways.
What was the reason that you got into CI/Intelligence?
My career has been a winding, non-linear one, through marketing communications, marketing strategy, strategy, etc. I have a B.A. in English and an MBA in International Management. More recently, I did a graduate certificate in Strategic Foresight. I have always let my career develop in the directions my intellect and curiosity took me. Ultimately, I became fascinated with systems and systems thinking, and put my mind on analysis of business environments, markets and market players, technologies and social trends. Market intelligence brings together all of my interests.
Looking into your crystal ball, how do you see CI evolving over the next 5 or so years? What skills will be important?
My hypothesis is that we will see more automation, more applications of big data and machine learning to provide insights. I believe predictive analytics that provide scenarios/models of markets and competitive dynamics may become more prevalent. Additionally, the application of strategic foresight methods may spread, to provide actionable ideas to intelligence.
In some companies, CI is thought of as “the espionage group.” What can CI leaders do to raise their influence and impact?
Simple answer: change your focus to strategy. Become a strategist and insert your work into strategy at all the levels you can. Also, get into strategic foresight and become a group that can help anticipate the future of markets, competition, and opportunity.
What's a business buzzword you loathe?
Synergy. It's often used in bringing businesses, divisions, teams or solutions that once operated separately together. There are multiplier effects in business, certainly, such as cost savings, customer cross-selling, etc. However, as used, synergies are largely amorphous concepts that may or may not have a plan behind them.
What's a productivity tip or lifehack that you use often?
It’s tough to use all the productivity technology out there. But various kinds of alerts, from Google or owler.com, are a huge boost to my environmental scanning work.
What's a go-to resource on your bookshelf?
There may be more famous business books or more compelling strategy books, but the one book that catalyzed my career personally was Tom Peters’ The Project 50. In it, Peters exhorts in a fun, no-holds-barred style that you can make everything you do matter to both yourself, your company, and your customers. Whether it’s a report or a product, make it matter!
How has SCIP helped your career?
I am happy to be a member of the organization and enjoy reading the thought leadership and how-to materials. I have leveraged much of the war-gaming content and applied it to various projects at Experian. I would like to network more and will look for opportunities to do so.
One of greatest values of SCIP is the power of our member community. The experience, knowledge, and intellect of our members are unparalleled. To build off these strengths, SCIP is launching a program to highlight our members and the great work that they do. Are you interested in sharing your story? Please contact us to nominate yourself or a colleague.