From automation to expert analysis; finding the best market intelligence tool for the purpose.
There is a saying that “if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” I have heard versions of this repeated in discussions regarding from public policy choices to military tactics, but the meaning is clear — not every problem can be solved using the same solution.
The one-tool-solves-everything temptation is a very real pitfall for those with market and competitive intelligence responsibilities, and I empathize with those who want their shiny — and often costly — MI solutions to address all of their needs.
Understanding your intelligence requirements
As a practical matter, your organization has a range of MI/CI requirements, and each of these is best solved in a different way, using the tools most appropriate for the task. At the same time, the methodology of delivering actionable intelligence is continuously evolving.
It can be helpful to consider these requirements as part of a continuum — from the immediate, tactical need for a particular fact to the most long-term, strategic assessment of future trends and competitive scenarios.
- Data — I need to know this now: Sometimes you just need to know one fact, or a specific set of data points — this is the most tactical form of MI/CI. Search tools (automated or on-demand) are essential to find these answers. Certain industries or geographies have specialized databases and/or require more customized search engines.
- Current Awareness — keep me informed of what’s happening: Staying on top of developments that affect your organization requires access to the latest information, but also a strong dose of filtering to avoid information overload and organization to ensure efficiency. Digital tools that employ customizable algorithms are useful here, as are applications that capture changes in published records. This is also the area where artificial intelligence (AI) holds the greatest promise in the near term, though at present a human editor is often required to deliver this type of MI/CI most effectively.
- Contextualized Knowledge — what does this development mean? Turning awareness into insight involves adding context that will shed light on how significant a development is, whether it’s part of a larger trend, and more. This is where human curation of the information generated through automated tools can deliver the best return on investment.
- Deep Dives and the Long-Term View — a strategic perspective: Maximizing your growth strategy can require intensive analysis of all the available data and indicators. In-depth analysis by skilled MI/CI analysts provides organizations with unique and highly customized insights that can include long-term trend projections, risk assessments, early warning systems, competitive scenarios and more.
At ShiftCentral, we provide a range of MI/CI services for our clients. We are using or piloting a range of tools — including versions of all of the ones mentioned above — and methods to do so, and we are constantly evaluating new technologies and processes as they emerge.
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This article was originally published on ShiftCentral, now part of LAC Group.