If you follow this blog or gap intelligence on Facebook, it may take you five minutes to realize that we are hedgehog crazy.  We have pictures of Herbie the Hedgehog, gap university’s mascot, from locations all over the world.  Herbie is pictured at company events, on the road in Haiti, eating food, and even driving cars!  With that, it should come as no surprise that  a frequently asked question by friends and visitors at our headquarters is “What is with the Hedgehog?”

Herbie the Hedgehog was inspired by Jim Collins’ wonderful book “Good to Great”, which is a cornerstone of gap intelligence’s business practices.  The general philosophy of “Good to Great” is that companies that focus on just one business practice will achieve long term value and growth.  Collins uses the help of a hedgehog to help describe the practice of focusing on just one business practice.  The hedgehog’s ability to curl up into a tight ball and expose its spikes is a simple and extremely effective means to protect itself from predators.

Goof to Great book cover.

Image Credit: wikipedia.com

The simple motion of the hedgehog’s tuck and cover protects it from predators in the light and in the dark, in good weather and in bad.  Collins’ philosophy suggests that a simple, easy to execute business practice will drive a company’s long term success and growth in good times and bad, with rabid competition and blue ocean water.

The restaurant chain, In-N-Out Burger, makes burgers, fries, shakes and nothing else. Apple’s corporate strategy is to make “simplicity the ultimate sophistication”.  By focusing to make these simplistic business practices even better has driven both companies’ growth over the past three decades.  In-N-Out focuses only on making better burgers, fries, and shakes and Apple focuses only on making everything as simple as possible. Pretty easy, huh?

gap intelligence’s “hedgehog” is:

“Providing timely and accurate industry vitals in actionable solutions.”

There are a lot of action words in that “hedgehog” so let me break it down in parts.

“Providing timely and accurate industry vitals….”

This refers to our data and our never ending quest to capture more data, faster, with even more precision. “Providing timely and accurate industry vitals…” has driven our investments in our own web crawling software to collect e-commerce pricing faster and more accurately.  Our hedgehog motivated us to develop our own iPhone application, called the gapApp, that allows us to collect timely information from any store in the world.  Have we mentioned that gap intelligence is the only research shop that physically visits retail locations nationwide on a weekly basis?  Though today we focus on collecting the “4Ps” of marketing (product, price, place, and promotion), our hedgehog gives us the flexibility to collect any kind of information – so long as its “vital”.

So, please tell us what the next “vital” set of data is.  Is it customer reviews?  Is it inventory levels?  Is it pictures from the field or number of technical support calls?  If its vital information to you, gap intelligence has the means to find that data very quickly and accurately.

“…In actionable solutions.”

The second half of gap intelligence’s hedgehog is “…in actionable solutions”, which really speaks to our quest to bring our data to life.  The strongest example of our ability to “bring data to life” is our analysts, who draw insights and analysis from piles of data and give them to our clients.  We also have online web applications, such as datacenter.gapintelligence.com and tco.gapintelligence.com that bring life to our data and allows our clients to use our information in new and powerful ways.

Our future investments will focus on applications that make our information easier to decipher and give our clients endless ways to view, cut, combine, and create with our data.  We are also dedicated to growing and educating our esteemed team of analysts, who will write more analysis, answer more inquiries, create more presentations, and visit more clients in the coming year.

Herbie the Hedgehog, gap intelligence’s mascot representing our defined business practice that has guided gap intelligence since 2009, can tell you that we are working hard on improving our hedgehog and he can’t wait to show you our new initiatives and innovations in 2014.

And he is excited to show you more of the places he will go….