The accumulation of knowledge and awareness of the intricacies of what is happening to specific industries of interest
Industry knowledge is a term that describes the accumulation of knowledge and awareness of the intricacies of what is happening to specific industries of interest. Knowledge of an industry from a stakeholder’s perspective can never be over-emphasized.
Industry knowledge results in improved revenues for a business, enhanced chances of getting hired for a job seeker, increased chances of promotion for an employee, and sound industry policies for a regulator. The article below will, however, dwell more on industry knowledge relating to general business and finance.
Possessing and accumulating industry knowledge for a business is normally pursued to acquire or create a competitive advantage which ultimately leads to business growth. Industry knowledge requires businesses to be abreast with the latest news and current trends in the industry.
It is, therefore, essential for businesses on a growth path to invest in industry education and research. The output encompasses industry dynamics such as size, products, customers, pricing, finance, recruitment, technology, suppliers, equipment, markets, marketing, production, safety, regulations, best practices, and so on.
There are five major levels of industry knowledge competency as per guidelines from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) indicated in the table below.
|Basic Understanding: Competency is limited when it comes to dealing with difficult situations||• Conscious of competitors in the industry and their product offerings
• Acquainted with major industry publications and professional standards
• Shows genuine interest to learn and know more about the relevant industry
• Familiar with current industry developments
|Solid Basic Understanding: Competency applies to routine situations||• Knowledge of basic interactions with other industry players
• Knowledge of industry key players, leaders, and trendsetters
• Sharing of useful industry information
• Ability to see the business in relation to other businesses in the industry
• Ability to undertake industry analysis
• Understanding of the major industry needs for growth
|Solid Understanding: Competency is applied consistently, with ease to most situations||• Identification of industry challenges in terms of regulation, ICT, corporate governance, competition, and globalization
• Ability to collect, organize, analyze, disseminate, and interpret relevant industry data
• Sound knowledge of the historical background of other players and their evolvement overtime
• Understanding of industry function and its value chain
• Keeping current with industry trends through reading industry publications and attending meetings of professional associations in the industry
• Up-to-date knowledge of industry standards
|Advanced Industry Knowledge: |
Competencies are applied to a full range of situations
|• Advanced knowledge of national and international industry stakeholders
• Knowledge of the relation of industry to other economic segments
• Industry guru with knowledge sought after by other players
• Consistently up-to-date with industry knowledge
• Reputation within the industry is attained leading to interactions with industry leaders
• Opportunities to contribute to formulation of industry standards
• Broad understanding of growth in industry segments, trends, and emerging practices
|Mastery of Industry Knowledge: |
Competencies are applied to complex and challenging situations with a high degree of creativity
|• Contribution to future strategic decisions in the industry
• Ability to articulate complex industry issues and challenges
• Ability to formulate strategies to exploit opportunities
• Up-to-date and detailed industry knowledge and developments and its effects on organizational strategic plans
• Proactively disseminating useful information to clients
• Aware of critical issues at every level of the industry from local, regional, and international levels whilst offering relevant solutions
Networking involves interaction with other industry stakeholders in person or online. It is one sure way to share and acquire knowledge of what is happening in the industry. Some industry trends start developing in the grapevine before going viral or noticed by the public media. Players with good networking skills can acquire information earlier and take positions before it is known by everyone.
Networking is usually achieved by attending business functions, such as symposiums, trade shows, and analyst briefings. Joining professional membership associations and attending their events is also another great way to gain industry knowledge.
It is important to develop social skills by engaging in professional discussions in a relaxed environment. Networking also extends to interactions on social media platforms focusing on topics of interest.
Industry players are encouraged to subscribe to relevant industry publications and setting aside time to go through them, notwithstanding their busy schedules. Industry publications are more informative and focus on specific industries and professionals. It means they can provide granular details absent in consumer-focused publications.
Reading widely to include related industries is a stretch that is worth it as it opens up the mind to industry-relatedness and can uncover opportunities lurking behind.
Mentorship involves securing the tutelage of a reputable professional in the industry. It can be viewed as an extension of networking but with a focus on learning from one individual with advanced industry knowledge.
An arrangement can be made which satisfies both parties, the mentee receiving industry knowledge and skills in exchange for any help the mentor may deem necessary. Mentors can provide guidance and first-hand knowledge of the industry, which is invaluable to the mentee.
It is important to stay abreast with current industry activities and news by conducting routine online research. The internet is home to an abundance of research tools to assist in drilling down to specific information being sought.
Bookmarks to relevant sites, blogs, forums, or databases can be made for future reference. Setting up alerts on topics of interest can be managed through platforms such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Bloomberg, etc.
Businesses and individuals can also create LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to interact with other professionals. With the boom in online activity, online research ensures one is abreast with the latest industry knowledge.
Taking refresher courses at colleges or universities or bringing in experts to provide these courses in-house is an excellent way of keeping employees updated on industry best practices. Some employees may have long left school, hence need regular refresher courses to stay up-to-date on developments in the industry.
Concentrating on a niche segment of the industry and applying effort to learn more about this niche segment can upgrade someone from a regular employee to an expert. Depending on the strategic importance of the niche with reference to the industry, acquiring skills and knowledge of a niche segment can lead to quality advice and decisions.
Industry knowledge cannot be over-emphasized for a commercially run business. Therefore, it is crucial to be abreast with news in your industry. The lack of access to new industry updates can leave a business vulnerable to security issues or failing to comply with industry regulations.
Not paying attention to industry knowledge updates can result in the inability to grab opportunities and losing them to competitors. It can also lead to failure to deliver what customers want. Here are some points that highlight the importance of industry knowledge.
Staying up-to-date with industry knowledge and updates allows businesses to identify and exploit new opportunities before competitors can digest the information. There may be niche markets within an industry that present timebound exploitable opportunities.
Other opportunities may lie in observing changing consumer buying habits, new technologies, increased demand for certain products, and changes in style and preferences of the market. Being attentive to new industry knowledge updates also allows changes in business strategy, identifying what is absent in the market, knowing what consumers desire, and identifying possible areas of growth and profitability.
Staying ahead of competitors is usually an element of a business’s ability to adapt to changing business trends and the environment. By keeping up-to-date with changing trends, players can develop new product offerings and employ more efficient technology that brings consumer convenience in payment, order management, and delivery. Banks that invested early in digital channels eventually led the industry.
Industry regulations are always changing, and business organizations need to be familiar with and comply with these rules. Some entities regard regulations as red tape and choose to concentrate on business operations, neglecting compliance in the process.
However, there are potentially huge financial and legal costs incurred due to non-compliance. Ignorance is no excuse or defense; hence, being current with changes in regulations should be a best practice.
Businesses handle vast amounts of data in this big data era. Paying close attention to how other industry players are protecting themselves from cyber-attacks, hacking, ransomware, and other types of malware is paramount. Staying adept with industry data protection methods such as data encryption, authentication, tokenization, data masking, and relevant security updates enable organizations to avoid data breaches.
The financial services industry is one of the most dynamic industries with constant changes happening. The financial services sector’s seen rapid changes since the dawn of the digital era. The rapid change meant regular changes to customer expectations, consumer behavior, product offerings, regulatory oversight, margin erosions, financial risks, value chain deconstruction, and the emergence of new players in the industry.
Financial services providers include but are not limited to organizations that manage money on behalf of clients such as banks, insurance companies, credit card companies, mutual funds, stock brokerage houses, credit unions, investment funds, leasing companies, and some government-sponsored enterprises.
Knowledge is power in finance, and possessing a deeper understanding of the financial services industry is paramount for stakeholders. Not knowing the basics of finance can lead to businesses incurring cost overruns, huge debt overhang, and poor investment decisions, all of which can threaten the existence of a business.
On a personal level, a good grasp of finance can lead to improved budgeting and savings culture and avoiding unnecessary money traps that lead to bankruptcy. Here are some ways to increase knowledge in the financial services industry for potential investors.
The best way to learn finance and the intricacies of money management at a personal level is to talk to a financial advisor. Financial advisors are experienced professionals who offer insightful advice on money management and investing.
It is also beneficial to read finance and business articles from print and online media, watch blogs and attend forums where finance-related content is shared. It entails paying attention to stock market news, breaking news in business and finance, currency movements, global business swings, and general business discussions.
Channels and websites such as CNBC, Bloomberg, Thompson-Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and CNN Money broadcast business news and provide real-time financial markets coverage. The media companies also offer premium subscription packages tailor-made to the needs of a client.
There are numerous short-term finance courses offered at local colleges and online for non-finance people. Individuals interested in learning finance for personal investing purposes can take advantage by enrolling in such courses.
Investment clubs provide a platform for understanding finance and investments at a practical level.
Several industry-specific apps are available through various platforms that provide instantaneous access to financial industry information. Such apps can be downloaded on a smartphone and provide access on the go.
The apps are varied in their focus, ranging from financial literacy, financial advice, market news, investment calculators, and a whole lot more. Popular finance apps include Mint, Personal Capital, EveryDollar, Prism, among others.
Thank you for checking out CFI’s guide to Industry Knowledge. To keep learning and advance your career, the following resources will be helpful: