In an environment where access to competitive intelligence (CI) is a prerequisite, those who get the most out of their CI will gain a competitive edge.
- Intelligence resources on their own are not enough anymore. A 2020 survey conducted by the nonprofit Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals and Crayon found that 94% of companies have employees responsible for CI (and most have two or more).
- Competitive advantage is becoming more difficult to earn. An overwhelming 90% of businesses in that same survey report that their industry has become more competitive in the past three years.
So, while intelligence alone is very helpful in decision making – after all, knowledge is power – your success now depends on your ability to maximize it. You can start with these essential best practices:
- Clearly define your questions and priorities. Good intelligence begins and ends with answering the right questions. The ones that are most relevant to your business growth. Asking for “everything,” or relying on others to define what you need to know risks diluting the value of the information and insights.
- Combine CI with business intelligence (BI). BI is typically internal data. It is more structured, numeric information about your operations, finances and other performance measures. On their own, BI and CI are useful, but when used in an integrated analysis, they become more powerful and relevant.
- Make information accessible and understandable. There are some challenges integrating CI into your internal data and analysis because the information can be complex and come from a broad pool of sources. Simplify, standardize, and make your intelligence accessible and digestible to those who need it.
- Be specific. Know what you’re looking for. Take into account which competitors and which of their activities your business is most interested in, whether there are niche sectors you’d like to know more about, and keep track of major trends in your industry. The more CI analysts can declutter, the more actionable insights they can deliver.
- In-house is not always best. You can save time and cost by outsourcing CI work to dedicated analysts rather than bog down the business development team with additional work. Having dedicated analysts can also help ensure your business is always on top of market, regulatory and competitive developments. Human curation, oversight and analysis of data produced by automated tools has additional benefits, as it provides more freedom to customize and narrow down the content, among other things.
Information will always be relevant, but data without purpose won’t be as useful. In fact, too much unnecessary information can create clutter and confuse decision makers. So, in order to make the best out of information, make sure you obtain actionable and accessible data to begin with.