Many businesses lack the Competitive Intelligence to provide critical inputs in decision making. What is Competitive Intelligence and how can this discipline give your business an advantage?
Competitive Intelligence is the art of defining, gathering, analyzing, and distributing intelligence about products, customers, competitors, individuals, concepts, information, and ideas or data needed to support executives and managers in making strategic decisions for an organization. This also includes a broad array of culled data: from government intelligence to market intelligence to business intelligence.
Competitive Intelligence is the holistic understanding of the situation in which an organization would need to perform. This approach requires a strong consideration of the following attributes:
Competitor Analysis has to do with identifying the peer competitors and not just what they are doing but more importantly why they are doing such initiatives. This requires looking at the situation from a competitor’s point of view. This approach will make it clear why others do business a certain way.
Knowledge Management is about learning from previous experience (whether success or failure) and clearly identifying which factors will matter in the future. This could lead to knowing what to continue doing and what to stop or minimize.
Market Research means conducting a study about the market at large; their preferences, habits, peculiarities, profiles, the competitive environment, and other macro concerns. This provides a better appreciation of the opportunities and threats in these areas.
Marketing Research has to do with conducting a study on the impact of the marketing elements initiated by the organization in a selected market. This is, therefore, more relevant in terms of which segments to focus on and what proposition to offer those segments.
Business Research focuses on the overall business model and identifying the strengths and weaknesses under which the organization will perform.
Business Strategy decides which major initiatives would jump start the business to meet its target objectives.
How can Competitive Intelligence improve the effectiveness of a business?
By Consulting in the development of an accurate strategic business plan, which would consider the necessary issues and possible responses of the market to specific initiatives.
By Monitoring your competitor’s actions and shaping your response accordingly on a proactive basis. This provides enough opportunity to change direction at the first indication of concern.
By Identifying neglected, poorly served markets that can create opportunities for growth and switching. This brings attention to the need for better monitoring and early turnaround to tap into gaps.
By Deciding about adding a product, modifying a product, or dropping a product or service based on an assessment of risks.
At the end of the day, there is really no single correct answer when it comes to Competitive Intelligence. The point is to be able to explain the connection between a decision and existing practices.
Competitive Intelligence is not an exact science. Any information you get will really depend on the kind of data available, timeliness of the information, source of data, application to the market, and a serious appreciation of the discipline of Competitive Intelligence.
print ed: 05/11