Competitive Intelligence Strategic Foresight
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Member Intel Q&A - Matt Keyes

Matt Keyes

SCIP member Matt Keyes is Manager of Asset Protection at Wal-Mart Supply Chain. We recently spoke with Matt about how his operations background has given him a leg up in market intelligence, and how communication and influencing skills can help ensure an insight drives action. 



"In this role half of the job is identifying an insight. But the other half is communicating that in a way that motivates the receiver to take action. If you aren't able to get buy-in and drive action, then it doesn't matter how great your insights are..."

Tell us about yourself.

I currently lead the competitive intelligence team for Brewer Science. We are a group of 5 and are responsible for everything from monitoring our current markets to identifying new growth opportunities and developing business plans to move them forward. Our customers are the executive team and we work cross functionally within the organization based off the needs of the project.


What was the reason that you got into intelligence?

CI was new to me when I joined Brewer Science in 2016. I came from an operations background where most of my focus was in the area of industrial engineering. In operations I found I was good at was being able to take data from multiple sources and compile it into a story. I could then translate this into process flows and plans for running an efficient facility. Moving into a CI role, I found myself doing the same thing but in a different environment. I'm bringing in data from customers, the market, government, etc. and determining what the opportunity or impact on our company will be. Then taking it a step further to "What should we do with this insight?"


What can CI leaders do to raise their influence and impact?
In my company CI is still relatively new. We are generally viewed as a market research group. My approach to adjusting this misconception is to proactively create projects and move us into a strategy position. With each project the expectation is to deliver more than information. We need to deliver insight and action. In addition, we are self-identifying new projects with actions to enter new markets. 

How do you see CI evolving over the next 5 years?  What skills will be important?
With the vast advancements in technology, the most important skills for CI in the future are soft skills. Where CI teams will really set themselves apart is in their ability to communicate. One of the biggest complaints I hear is “we told them X and they didn’t do anything about it”. In this role half of the job is identifying X but the other half is communicating that in a way that motivates the receiver to take action. If you aren't able to get buy-in and drive action, then it doesn't matter how great your insights are.



What's been the best piece of career advice that you've received? 
Observe those around you
. Identify the people you admire and look up to. What attributes do they hold that you value? Identify the people you do not want to become and determine what about the way they conduct themselves makes you feel that way. As you advance in your career replicate the attributes you admire and be aware of and avoid the negative ones you've identified.


What's a business or academic book you recommend?
First 90 Days. It's a good book for leaders moving into new positions. It also highlights the importance of assessing a situation and planning how to make an effective and positive impact.


What's a productivity tip or lifehack that you use often?

Instead of sending an email, walk down the hall to someone’s office or pick up the phone and call them. Emailing back and forth to have a conversation is a time-killer and not an effective way of communication. Speaking with someone allows you to communicate in a much more efficient way and also builds relationships. You might even make a friend. 



What business buzzword do you see overused?
Lean/Agile/Scrum/etc. Everyone wants to use the new hot term. If you aren't following the process and haven't yet implemented it, don’t use it.


How has SCIP helped your career?

SCIP was the first conference I attend in my CI role. In a few short days I met several people who have had an incredible influence on my time in CI. I became a member of SCIP following the conference to stay informed and connected to the community. Over the past few years I have met new vendors, mentors, and friends through the organization.


Get involved 

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.





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