2. Benefit from
Business Insight has been taught the principles of business strategy
based upon the published works of dozens of experts and it applies this
expertise to your market. Your dialog with Business Insight
is equivalent to an in-depth engagement with an expert in strategic planning.
You describe your business and the expert system applies its specialized
knowledge to the unique circumstances of your market. Every recommendation
from the expert can be justified by tracing the supporting rationale.
Business Insight questions your assumptions and validates
or challenges your thinking in considerable detail by:
- offering observations on inconsistencies in your strategy
- rating key functions that are critical to your enterprise
- suggesting the strongest and weakest aspects of
- presenting a no holds barred constructive criticism of
- assessing and chart your market position
- suggesting ways to improve your potential for success
- warning about factors that could cause
- comparing alternative strategies for strengths and weaknesses
- discovering opportunities in your market and
anticipate competitive threats
- scoring of your potential for success
- providing written analysis of your
By using Business Insight, you make better decisions
which reduce costs or improve revenues, or do both.
Here is a selection
of major organizations that
have benefited from the Plan Write and Insight expert planning software.
3. Features of Business Insight
Key features and elements of Business Insight include:
- Business Insight starts work by asking questions on issues related
to growth and operations of your business covering:
|mission & vision
products & services
sales & marketing
advertising & promotion
organization & training
hiring & compensation
- Your answers are matched against a knowledge base of proven business
strategies to evaluate hundreds of marketing and business concepts
as they relate to your unique circumstances. Business Insight then
uses information about your company to create a unique model of your
industry based on:
- Michael Porter's Competitive Five Forces
- GE Business Strategy
- Boston Consulting Group Matrix
- SWOT Analysis
- Product Life Cycle Analysis
- Pricing Strategy
... and dozens of other models.
This modeling results in a set of analyses. These provide a written
critique of your strategy, observations on strategic inconsistencies,
graphs that analyze key market concepts, lists of strategic strengths
and weaknesses, a success potential rating in eleven areas and a written
draft marketing plan.
- Business Insight helps anticipate and manage change as it
takes account of the fact that market success is a moving target affected
loss of key personnel
acquisition of funding
It suggests new opportunities and exploits market volatility
to identify ways of increasing market share, revenue and profits.
- By asking the right questions and then knowing how to apply
the answers to your strategy, Business Insight provides a structured
environment for your strategic planning process - from assessment
through analysis to conclusion. It helps break down your strategic
efforts into measurable goals. By doing this, you can
measure what needs to be addressed and how to achieve your goals. It’s
very easy for bias, politics, and emotion to influence strategic decisions.
Business Insight removes those by measuring independent factors.
- Business Insight identifies strategies that could work
best for you. As you delve deeper into its analysis report, you could
see new opportunities for your business that, in the past, were hidden
and you'll be able to determine what should be done to strengthen your
company or to make your product or service more attractive to the buyers.
In addition, you can assess the impact of alternative
- Business Insight
considers the capabilities of your organization and your competitors,
your business objectives, government influence and market climate.
You immediately see all of the positive and negative impacts
on your business success. It offers 100's of analyses of your strategy
which provide multiple insights into ways of strengthening
your market position. By basing your strategy on proven business principles
reviewed by experts, you increase your success potential.
Business Insight generates a comprehensive report to help you plan and
justify your strategic decisions - see the sample report
and demo below.
4. More About Business
These items discuss the
use of Michael Porter's Five Forces Model; the importance of getting
insights into SWOTs; and the process of reviewing factors affecting
Michael Porter's Five Forces Model
The concepts that most influenced the development
of Business Insight were published in Competitive Strategy and Competitive
Advantage by Michael Porter. In these works, Michael Porter described
a concept that has become known as the "five forces model". This
involves a relationship between competitors within an industry,
potential competitors, suppliers, buyers and alternative solutions
to the problem being addressed. We used the five-forces model as
a basic structure and built on it with concepts from the works of
many other authors. The result was a model with over 5,000 relational
While each industry involves all of these factors,
the relational strengths vary. Business Insight uses input from the
user to create a unique model of their industry. Then thousands of "rules" are
applied to evaluate hundreds of marketing and business concepts as
they relate to the user's unique circumstances. This results in a set
of analyses, including:
- a success potential rating in eleven key areas
- a list of strategic strengths and weaknesses
- observations on strategic inconsistencies
- a written critique of your strategy
- a graphic analysis of key marketing concepts
- a written draft of a marketing plan.
Getting Insights into SWOTs
A lot of lip service has been given to a concept called SWOTs which
stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities
and threats. However,
few enterprises have a formal method for evaluating these factors.
There are many specific circumstances to consider, some of which are
unique to your enterprise or industry. A few of these are:
- Special/unique abilities
- New/proprietary technology that may benefit or threaten you
- Changes in the economy (positive or negative)
- Requirement for or loss of key personnel
- Access or lack of access to critical materials
- Changes in government policies or regulations
- Availability or lack of availability of capital
- Transportation or communication changes (cost or availability)
- Market entry of new competitors
- Social or environmental changes.
These are only a few of hundreds of factors considered
when you use Business Insight. The results of your analysis will
be a better understanding of how to leverage your strengths to take advantage
of perceived opportunities or to respond to threats and how to compensate
for known weaknesses.
Factors Affecting Strategy
Business Insight evaluates all the factors that could influence
the potential for generating and maintaining profits over an extended
period. The analysis evaluates your strengths and weaknesses and considers
the consequences of your following each strategy. Examples of factors
|Character of your Enterprise
Customer Service Experience
Characteristics of your Product or Service
Character of the Target Market
The Market Place
Pricing, Promotion and Distribution
General Management Experience
Financial Management Experience
Development Management Experience
Production Management Experience
Marketing Management Experience
Each factor is assessed in detail. As an example, Business Insight asks numerous questions regarding the Characteristics
of Your Product or Service covering:
Importance to prospect
Requirement for complementary products/services
Design compatibility with production limitations
The pricing strategy
Type of function
Degree of innovation
Use of proprietary technology
Potential for copying
Technology transfer via personnel
Benefit of demonstration Apparent results
Effect on buyer's market share
Time required to benefit
Obvious return on investment
Comparison to competition
Potential savings for customer
Site preparation requirements
Special modification costs
Timing of introduction
Support device requirements
Technical assistance requirements
Packaging protective qualities
Promotional orientation of packaging
Influence on the user
The analysis combines all the factors that could influence
the potential for generating and maintaining profits over an extended
period. These include:
- Potential for competitive retaliation is based on the competitors
resources, commitment to the industry, cash position and predictability
as well as the status of the market.
- The enterprise's ability to construct entry barriers to competition
such as the creation of high switching costs, gaining substantial
benefit from economies of scale, exclusive access to or clogging
of distribution channels and the ability to clearly differentiate
your offering from the competition.
- The intensity of competitive rivalry as measured by the size
and number of competitors, limitations on exiting the market,
differentiation between offerings and the rapidity of market growth.
- The ability of the enterprise to limit suppliers bargaining
- The enterprise's ability to sustain its market position is determined
by the potential for competitive imitation, resistance to inflation,
ability to maintain high prices, the potential for product obsolescence
and the 'learning curve' faced by the prospect.
- The availability of substitute solutions to the prospect's need.
- The prospect's bargaining power as measured by the ease of switching
to an alternative, the cost to look at alternatives, the cost
of the offering, the differentiation between your offering and
the competition and the degree of the prospect's need.
- Market potential for new products considering market growth,
prospect's need for your offering, the benefits of the offering,
the number of barriers to immediate use, the credibility of the
offering and the impact on the customer's daily operations.
- The freedom of the enterprise to make critical business decisions
without undue influence from distributors, suppliers, unions,
investors and other outside influences.
For further details about the inner workings of Business Insight, view
the sample report and online demo
Online Demo & Sample Report
This Online Demo of Business Insight shows,
in a few minutes, how it constructs a model of a business and applies
its expert system's rules to build up a series of proposals for changing,
dropping or extending strategies.
This comprehensive sample
generated by Business Insight. It identifies numerous critical
issues to be addressed so as to ensure that strategic decisions
result in a successful strategy. It includes:
- Charts that describe market position.
- Observations on inconsistencies
- Assertions or conclusions drawn by the expert
- Warnings of factors that could cause defeat.
- Lists of strengths
and how to leverage them.
- Lists of weaknesses and how to compensate.
- A score of potential
6. Frequently Asked Questions
What other expert systems are available?
Quick Insight is ideal for assessing product
and market proposals for new and smaller businesses. It is considerably
less detailed than Business Insight but retains the essential elements
guidance on developing a business plan, try the Plan
Write Expert Edition.
For expert help on preparing a marketing plan, see:
- Plan Write for Sales which contains
facilities for writing a marketing plan as well as an expert
systems to help assess and formulate marketing strategies and sales
- Plan Write for Hi-Tech Marketing is
similar to Plan Write for Sales but
its expert system has been tailored for technology-based
- Plan Write for Pricing contains
an expert system to help determine the optimal price for a
product or service.
Is this software designed for a product or a service industry?
Business Insight is supplied with separate knowledge
bases for manufacturing and service businesses.
Does this software come with a guarantee?
Yes. This software comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. If you
purchase a product and are not satisfied, you may return it within
30 days from the date of purchase and we will refund the full purchase
Does your software come with technical support?
Yes. Our software comes with free, knowledgeable technical support
for the lifetime of the product.
Is this software available in a MAC version?
Sorry, no. This software is designed for use only with PCs running
Need more help to select the most appropriate planning package?
Use this Contact Form to explain your needs
or utilize our Online Business Plan Advice Service.
7. User & Media Reviews
Philip Kotler, Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, Northwestern
For years I've advocated that companies need to perform marketing
audits to check their strategic fit to the changing market environment.
Business Insight goes further. It not only gives insight into the
marketing side of the business, but into the company's total business.
One can hardly fail to spot problems and opportunities in submitting
a business situation to the disciplined appraisal provided by Business Insight.
Mark McNeilly, Steve Gessner, System Strategy Department, IBM:
One question we skeptically asked ourselves
was, will this software really give us any insights we hadn't thought
of? (After all, the program is called Business Insight.) The answer
is, it did!
John Sviokla, Assistant Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Business:
In my capacity here at Harvard I am exposed to many of the new
tools for business and strategic planning. Business Insight is the
best I have seen.
President, US Lotteries:
The interview questions alone are worth the purchase price.
We saved $2M by correcting our strategy before we invested.
Richard Wiser, VP Financial Planning, Mary Kay Cosmetics:
Using Business Insight is like having Michael Porter on call.
It is like a refresher course for my MBA education.
Jim Glantz, BYOB, Inc.:
Your software is wonderful! It's like having the Wharton School
of Business in my computer. It has already saved me much time in
developing a business strategy for a product launch. I do not have
the business savvy that some with extensive business education
and background may possess, yet, with your software giving proper guidance,
I have gained a great sense of self-confidence about where I am
taking my company and when I expect to hit certain milestones. Your product
doesn't cost... it keeps paying! Your software is helping me achieve
my dream. Thank you.
New York Times: Peter H. Lewis - Software to Help Introduce
Business Insight is an expert system that purports to help businesses
find the best strategies for introducing a product, for clarifying
a company's goals and for building better understanding among members
of a project team. Expert-system programs are also known as knowledge
bases, and they operate on the principle that business knowledge and
experience can be collected, codified and made accessible through a
computer program. An executive asks the computer how to solve a problem,
and the computer either comes up with a suggestion or, in the process
of sifting through variables, helps executives focus and come up with
their own solutions.
Many strategic planning programs are on the market, but Business Insight
appears to be the most comprehensive and ambitious. The program's developers
assert that they have captured the theories and insights of 30 recognized
management experts, including Michael Porter, author of 'Competitive
Strategy'. Business Insight sorts the user's answers, applies its rules
and generates a variety of reports that can address specific product
plans or the overall health of a business.
"I've used it in a couple of situations, and we're using it now
to evaluate a new product," said Gary H. Knippelmier, business development
manager for the Dynatel Systems Division of the 3M Corporation in Austin,
Texas, who tested early versions of the software. "The key thing
is the broad perspective you get, more so than anything I've dealt
with. It's a way of trying to ferret out your inconsistencies."
The program begins by interviewing the user in question-and-answer form,
asking literally hundreds of questions that range from basic financial
data to a description of the user's business and its market. A simple
spreadsheet is incorporated into the program for gathering and refining
The fascinating thing about the process is that the questions go beyond
mere facts and figures. The user is asked subjective questions as well
as objective ones -- how likely is it that a competitor will retaliate,
Should the product be introduced now, or should you wait for the market
to develop? Should the product be priced low for market penetration,
or high for maximum cash generation? What channels of distribution
will be most effective? Should promotion be "push" or "pull"?
How will new technologies and changing cultural trends affect the business?
It takes several hours to answer the questions, if the user gives them
the attention they deserve. Even if the program did nothing else, the
Q. and A. part is valuable in helping an executive identify a business's
overall strengths and weaknesses. The questions often include helpful
descriptions and summaries of business principles.
The point of the program, however, is to help a company pick the optimum
conditions for offering a new product. After it analyzes the situation,
it generates a scorecard that rates the chances of success and suggests
areas that can be modified. It identifies a company's strengths and weaknesses,
and points out inconsistencies in a product plan.
As a guide for planning products and devising a competitive strategy,
Business Insight is an exhaustive checklist. It imposes a logical pattern
on what is all too often a haphazard process.
Wall Street Journal: William M. Bulkeley - With new Planning Software,
Entrepreneurs act like MBAs:
Can a computer program make up for two years at Stanford Business
School? Probably not. But some business people say they have found
wisdom in software. Software developers have produced a number of programs
designed to guide the uninitiated through business planning, negotiation,
employee management and purchase valuation. Some programs are little
more than electronic form letters in which entrepreneurs fill in the
blanks to bamboozle venture capitalists. Others are "expert systems" that
give advice based on the precepts of management gurus.
Nevertheless, some users say the programs have opened up new worlds. "I'm
trying not to sound too effusive, but this software is really different.
Any small-business person could gain insights from it," says Randy
Ziegenhorn, a New Boston, Ill., wholesale seed dealer who uses a program
called Business Insight. He
credits the program for leading him to better marketing strategies.
As a result, he says he sold more oat seeds in March than he had in
the previous two years.
Mr. Ziegenhorn says that neither his college degree in English literature
nor his career as a farmer "lends itself to strategic business thinking." But
when he answered the program's questions about his business, the program
asked whether he could tailor his marketing efforts to particular customers
rather than treating them all the same. "I said, 'Yes, there's a
lot of difference'" among retailers, the store chains and the
co-ops that buy oat seeds. Then he crafted the techniques that led
to the sales gains.
All these programs attempt to give users insights by asking questions
in a structured way and forcing them to confront all the issues rather
than ignoring difficulties. "Information-gathering and stimulating
your brain is how we envision our job," says Daniel Bernstein,
president of Beacon Expert Systems Inc., Brookline... The programs
almost always leave users with more knowledge than they started with...
The cost of such systems is small compared with the cost of a lawyer
or consultant, users say. Lewis C. Hoff, president of Bartizan Inc.,
a Yonkers, N.Y., maker of bank card imprinters, uses Business Insight.
He says a consultant would cost much more and "tie up a tremendous
amount of time of you and your people." It's also quicker than
getting an MBA degree. David Fein, vice president of Value Express,
like the difference between building a house from the ground up and
redecorating it. You don't have to understand the theory to use it."
Planning Review: Mark McNeilly and Steve Gessner, IBM Corporation -
An Expert System for Strategic Analysis:
Business Insight is an expert system for strategic analysis that won
the respect of the managers who tested it for us. By combining both qualitative
and quantitative strategic analysis, it offers managers - especially
those who lack a strategic planning background - a useful tool for considering
and managing future outcomes.
Armed with Business Insight, a new expert system for strategic analysis,
we analyzed the Applications Business System division of IBM, a multi-billion
dollar unit. It took us ten hours to enter the data requested by the
program and another hour to review our answers to make certain we had
addressed the questions appropriately. The program then prepared a forty
What We Learned. We think Business Insight is a good first step toward
using decision support tools to integrate both the qualitative and quantitative
data that managers must take into account when planning strategy. After
collecting our answers to some 375 questions on a wide variety of topics
- including organizational factors, human resources, product benefits,
packaging, market definition, sales processes and financing - the software
was able to synthesize an accurate and coherent strategic plan. Based
on our experience with other strategic planning tools, we believe that
Business Insight is breaking new ground in a wide-open market.
Business Insight presents you with a strategic analysis, observations
about your business, key factors influencing the success of your business,
your strengths and weaknesses, and predictions for the success of different
strategic options. The analysis it did for us covered such topics as
the business environment, the buyer, the product, the competition,
the enterprise, development, manufacturing, marketing, service, suppliers,
substitutes and management. As an example of its responses, Business Insight suggested that we consider the implications of our unit's targeted
customer base. In addition to confirming several
valuable perceptions we had gleaned during our previous analyses, it
also provided new insights in the areas of competitive rivalry, upside
potential for earnings and advertising.
Another feature that took us a bit aback is that the answers it gives
are quite frank. For example, if it thinks you should consider replacing
one of your managers, it tells you so explicitly. Thus, one side benefit
of this expert system software is that it makes recommendations without
concern for office politics, its job security, or its next promotion....
One concern we had when we started was that, since Business Insight
is an artificial intelligence tool, would it be a "black box" that
wouldn't explain how it was coming up with answers? We were pleasantly
surprised to find that, for every comment or recommendation it makes,
it shows you a trail of its logic. For example, Business Insight warned
us to expect strong competitive rivalry. It showed us that the two
primary contributing factors to this potential rivalry were competitive
commitment to the market and competitive liquidity. The program then
traced this conclusion back to the detailed competitor information
we had supplied. This type of documentation is critical to the credibility
of the output.
Business Insight also tutors you on strategic thinking as it goes along.
At the beginning of each set of questions, it briefly describes the strategic
issues to consider when answering. For example, when collecting information
about the characteristics of your buyers, it suggests that you weigh
buyer sensitivity to price, geographic location and dispersion, profitability,
growth rate, and attitudes toward alternative solutions....
Business Insight is designed for product marketing managers, planning
consultants, manager/owners of small to medium-sized enterprises and
entrepreneurs. As professionals responsible for product strategy, we
fit best into the first category... So how can people like us use this
tool to optimize the strategic planning process? ... to a certain extent,
the learning experience of working with the system is more important
than its suggested solutions. After all, as General Eisenhower once
not the plan but the planning that counts." In small companies,
where the planning process consists of the owner's setting down and
creating a strategy, the best use of Business Insight is as an expert
teacher rather than an answering machine. The tutoring
the program provides may be a bargain for managers who aren't familiar
with the concepts of strategic planning.
Success Magazine: Jenny McCune - Consultant-in-a-Box, A Program That
Probes Your Business for Strengths and Weaknesses:
If you're a successful entrepreneur, chances are you learned about business
through trial and error and applying your gut instincts. You know how
painful - and costly - that approach can be. Have you ever wondered how
things would have turned out if you'd hired a big-time consultant or
had your business evaluated by the Harvard Business School? Business Insight is more than a collection of financial models and formulas; It's
more like a sage mentor. The program judges numeric and non numeric factors,
everything from the strength of your management team to the stage of
growth your market is in. Its analysis is rock solid, built from 40 business
books that include the teachings of Michael Porter and other management
experts. Whether you're starting a business, launching a new product,
or revamping your marketing, Business Insight will give you valuable
input and help you improve your strategy.
PC World: Bronwyn Fryer - Real Problems, Real Solutions:
Starting a new business - or expanding an old one - requires a lot
of thought and research. Your options: Roll up your sleeves and do
some of the research yourself, hire a marketing consultant for a mere
$150 an hour, or experiment with an emerging breed of software designed
to help you make informed business decisions. Lew Hoff,
president of Bartizan Corporation, a multimillion- dollar manufacturing
firm with 85 employees based in Yonkers, New York, describes how "MBA-ware" helps
steer his evolving business:
"While I was considering this new business, I read about a software
package called Business Insight. It's a database of 30 management
experts' collected knowledge. It asks hundreds of questions about
finances, products, distribution, and so forth. ... the program generates
a report based on your scores. It then rates your new venture's chance
for success and identifies the strengths and weaknesses of your business,
suggests ways to modify your plan. For $805, I got the same kind
of information I would have received from a marketing consultant,
without being charged about $1100 a day for four day's work. And
a consultant would have tied up a tremendous amount of my time and
my staff's time."
8. Buy & Use Now
Buy and download Business Insight now via
BRS's website as follows:
- Click the appropriate yellow Order button
below. At the BRS product page, click the orange Add
to Cart button
and click Proceed to Checkout.
- Once payment has been authorized, you will be instructed
on the download procedure and sent a product registration number
by email. Note that typical file sizes are about 20 Meg.
|View our terms and conditions applying
to software purchases and trial version upgrades. Note our 30-day refund
guarantee. If based within the European Union, you may wish to
check on the possible application of Value Added Tax (VAT) to transactions.