Business information is critical for strategy formulation, marketing plan development, economic sourcing of materials and supplies and other business needs.
Along with scientific, technology & medical and education/training information, business information delivery has been transformed by the Web.
Business information consists mainly of market research reports for different industries/regions, company information including credit and financial info, economic analyses of countries and industries and news on developments of business interest.
How is Business Information Used?
As discussed in the article on business strategy development, strategy formulation depends heavily on gathering information about external environment, market trends, competitors, technology developments, and prospective customers and their plans.
All these come under business informations.
Business information also includes market research reports for specific industries, countries and other relevant segments with the market data gathered and interpreted by specialist research organizations, which might also specialize in specific industries.
Company information including the business profiles, key executives, contact numbers, financial information and their business plans can provide information needed for strategic planning, marketing and sales, and for such decisions as extending customer credit.
Strategic planning is also facilitated by economic analyses of different countries and industries. Such analyses can, for example, highlight business opportunities in as yet untapped regions of the world. Industry analyses can also indicate the prospects for the industry.
If a particular industry is on the declining stage of its lifecycle, for example, relevant information can help strategic planners base their decisions on this critical fact.
Business news about corporate acquisitions and mergers, new projects and expansion plans, developments on the technology front, new technologies and economic/political developments are all of immense significance for business strategy formulation.
Where is Business Information Available?
Print media and specialist agencies had been the traditional source of business information. Newspapers and magazines that focus on economic news and issues, market research agencies, government departments that collect different kinds of statistics and the general press still continue to provide business-critical information.
Internet has expanded the availability of business information through Web portals that publish information of different kinds and aggregators who scour the net for useful information and publish summaries with links to original sources, for example.
There are portals that publish business forms, discuss legal issues, compare prices of products, list companies engaged in different industries, and provide numerous other kinds of information.
The wiki page on Premium Business Information Databases is a good source of links to business information sources.
Information System Management should also Cover External Information
Companies following best practices for information system management will invariably have provision for storing (and making available) not only internal information about the business’ operations but also external business information from important sources such as business press, government announcements and market competitors, among others.
New business start ups might not have such a database for assembling information needed to develop their strategies and plans. Small businesses just starting operations can tap government support agencies and published industry reports for information needed to develop viable business strategies.
Starting a small business without certain critical information such as market trends, competitor strengths and activities, and technology developments can prove unwise, if not disastrous.
Considering the innumerable information sources available on the Web, print media and government agencies, there is also no serious problem in assembling such information. The key issue is to understand the importance of business information, the type of information needed and how to use them. Here again, the government agencies can help the prospective entrepreneur by providing needed guidance.
Business information is a critical input needed by businesses, large and small, for varied tasks such as strategic and marketing planning, day-to-day sales and procurement decisions and operational decisions such as extending customer credit to new customers.
Business information is available from numerous sources including Web resources and print media. What is important is to identify what type of information is needed and how to use them.