Environmental scanning is a process of gathering, analyzing, and dispensing information for tactical or strategic purposes. The environmental scanning process entails obtaining both factual and subjective information on the business environments in which a company is operating or considering entering. A business unit has to monitor key macroenvironmental forces (demographic-economic, natural, technological, political-legal, and social-cultural) and significant microenvironmental actors (customers, competitors, suppliers, distributors, dealers) that affect its ability to earn profits. The business unit should set up a marketing intelligence system to track trends and important developments. For each trend or development, management needs to identify the associated opportunities and threats. There are three ways of scanning the business environment: * Ad-hoc scanning - Short term, infrequent examinations usually initiated by a crisis * Regular scanning - Studies done on a regular schedule (e.g. once a year) * Continuous scanning (also called continuous learning) - continuous structured data collection and processing on a broad range of environmental factors Most commentators feel that in today's turbulent business environment the best scanning method available is continuous scanning because this allows the firm to act quickly, take advantage of opportunities before competitors do and respond to environmental threats before significant damage is done. Macro environment
Macroenvironment consists of demographic, economic, physical, technological, political-legal, and social-cultural forces that affect sales and profits. In business studies, we usually conduct PESTLE or PESTEL analysis to study the macroenvironment. Environmental scanning usually refers just to the macro environment, but it can also include industry, competitor analysis, marketing research (consumer analysis), new product development (product innovations) or the...