This is a book chapter. It is like a user's manual of various techniques that can be utilized in strategic and competitive analysis. And the authors describe event and timeline (E&T) analysis as a group of related techniques that display events sequentially in a visual manner. Successful application of this technique can uncover important trends about a firm’s competitive environment and serve as an early-warning function by highlighting when a competitor or another market player is straying from its normal course of behavior.
The authors also assert that this technique can be very beneficial when an analyst is overwhelmed by big data by creating a chronological order. This may facilitate laying out the patterns.
Strengths and Advantages
· It is a very user friendly technique that is most useful in answering “when is (X event) going to happen?”
· It is not hard to master this technique. There are also many software applications that can support analysts. And these programs are inexpensive.
· It is good to use this technique when there are many information that spread over a long period of time.
· Often used as a planning aid. It can be complementary to other analysis techniques. Therefore, its outputs can be inputs for further analyses.
Weaknesses and Limitations
· Since there is many information, the technique requires analysts to determine which event should or should not be included in the timeline. This may yield to not putting critical events into the timeline. And this directly affects the findings.
· Multiple starting points can be generated. Because an analyst may not want to start the timeline to early not to put massive data inputs or he/she may not want to start it too late not to miss any milestone.
· E&T analysis needs to be done well in advance of key decisions or events. However, the determination of using E&T tends to be after a key event has occurred.
· It is generally very subjective to determine the causations or distinguishing evidences from assumptions. Any error, especially in causations, may result in misleading patterns.
Application Process of the Technique
1- Plot the Target Firm’s History of Key Events on a Line (the authors elaborate this step in 10 subsets)
2- Develop a chronological Table of Events
3- Develop an Events Matrix
4- Analyze the event and causal factors
The authors demonstrated finely the strengths, weaknesses and application of the technique. I think this can be a good tool for visualizing or putting the milestone data in an order. However, classifying data as milestone or unimportant is very subjective and therefore, the process is open to errors. And since we all know that correlation doesn’t mean causation, the patterns we generated may inherent false inferences to some extent. And the dimensions of that ‘extent’ will define our results’ forecasting accuracy. To recap, I would be more careful while using timeline analysis with the intention of extracting patterns from that. Other than that, it could be useful in visualizing the existing data.