How to leverage competitive intelligence

Begin with your KITS and KIQS

Competitive intelligence (CI) can help companies grow their business by helping them learn more about their competition, their markets and potential clients, but many organizations do not know how to properly do CI.

Intelligence gained may not always be detailed or direct enough to get to the necessary information a business needs to make an informed decision about whether to move ahead or change plans. Maybe enough research was not performed, or the wrong questions were asked.

CI planning begins with KITS and KIQS

Key intelligence topics (KITS) and key intelligence questions (KIQS) are important components of any CI strategy. They help a company further define its competitive intelligence strategy needs and not waste time and money on unnecessary or incomplete research.

Key intelligence topics

KITS are topics that are generalized into one of three categories:

  1. Strategic decisions and actions
  2. Early warning topics
  3. Descriptions of key players

Strategic decisions and actions ensure that a company is not flying blind. Early warning topics are subjects that flesh out the weaknesses and threats that could hold a company back. Descriptions of key players are, essentially, a profile of the company and the major players involved.

Key intelligence questions

KIQS fill in the gaps, validating or building on what a company does know—but mainly what it doesn’t know. KIQS force companies to think of what information is missing and what questions must be asked to get that.

Some of those questions include:

  • What is the process used to create that product?
  • Are there any technological advancements that could threaten my business?
  • Who are the major players in the market?
  • What is the value of the company I’m interested in acquiring?

These are just a few questions that would be included in a competitive intelligence strategy. Answering these and other detailed questions is important in making sure a business has all the information needed to decide if they should or should not go through with a merger, offer a new product or even update a process or implement other internal changes.

While KITS help a CI strategy begin the research into the competition, KIQS flesh out the behind-the-scenes details. It is important to include both in a competitive intelligence strategy so that the research is thorough and feasible. Every company wants to ensure the money they spend on intelligence-gathering is money well-spent.

Businesses are constantly looking to grow and expand in their respective industry, or potentially reach into other industries through mergers and acquisitions. Yet no business can afford to go into it blindly or risk missing important factors that could help or hinder their growth.

 

Jim Haggerty

Jim Haggerty

Jim Haggerty is Vice President of LAC Group's information management services. He oversees the expansion of the company’s information management offerings for on-site and virtual research librarians at law firms, corporations and any organization wanting unparalleled research and competitive intelligence.