Forecasting The Environment
Macroenvironmental and industry scanning are only marginally useful if all they do is reveal current conditions. To be truly meaningful, such analyses must forecast future trends and changes.
Environmental forecasting is a technique whereby managers attempt to predict the future characteristics of the organizational environment and hence make decisions today that will help the firm deal with the environment of tomorrow.
Forecasting involves the use of statistical and nonstatistical, or qualitative, techniques. Four techniques can be particularly helpful: time series analysis, judgmental forecasting, multiple scenarios, and the Delphi technique.
S U M M A R Y
Before managers can begin to formulate an effective strategy, they must make a critical examination of the firms's environment.
Assessing the strategic situation is the first phase in determining the content of the proper strategies for a firm. This process begins with an assessment of the general environment of the firm, in terms of economic, technological, social, and political/legal influences.
Analyzing the organization's industry is the second major aspect of assessing the firm's strategic situation. An industry structure analysis identifies the major forces affecting competition in an industry and determines the strengths and weaknesses of the business relative to the industry.
Michael Porter has identified five basic competitive industry forces: the threat of new entrants in the industry, the intensity of rivalry among existing competitors, the pressure from producers of substitute products or services, the bargaining power of buyers of the industry's outputs, and the bargaining power of suppliers to the industry's companies.
Management must find for a firm a position in the industry from which it can best defend itself against these competitive forces or can influence them to its advantages. Another major element of the industry environment is the product/market life cycle which assumes that all products, and, therefore, industries, move through stages of a life cycle.
In analyzing an industry, its is also useful to determine if the industry is a global industry, that is, an industry that requires global operations to compete effectively.
The organization's internal environment is the third aspect of assessing the strategic situation, which must be done before strategy alternatives are formulated.
Several techniques are available to help management develop a worthwhile environmental analysis.
Environmental scanning involves studying and interpreting social, political, ecological, and technological events in an effort to spot budding trends and conditions that could affect the industry.
Strategic managers must not only understand the current state of the environment and their industry but also be able to forecast its future states. Moreover, once having implemented the environmental analysis process, management should continually evaluate and strive to improve it.