Competitive Intelligence explainer and guide

This article is a Competitive Intelligence explainer and guide. 

What is Competitive Intelligence?

The first question to ask is what is Competitive Intelligence? We believe it’s all about excellent questions. Questions that answer things about your market, competitors and your customers which is not usually available from a Google search. More official descriptions can be found at  SCIP. So, here is a more formal answer to what is Competitive Intelligence:

“Competitive Intelligence is the process where tactical and analysis of markets, competitors and industries to allow decision-makers to make informed long and short term decisions, take advantage of gaps in the market and exploit competitor strengths and weaknesses”.

It’s the info you need to dig deeper for to find. It’s usually all there if you know how to look and often the information your competitors would not want to share with you. And all legal and above board. You are asking the questions that get answers that help you make decisions and take action based on certainty, rather than guesswork and assumptions.

Avoid surprises

CI means you have a better chance of avoiding surprises, think many moves ahead of your competitors. And minimise uncertainty when making decisions. In numerous cases, CI can be the unspoken key to success.

Competitive Intelligence answers the questions you need to know. That not readily available knowledge about your competitors, market and customers. You know, the information you need to dig deeper to find, often open-source info they would’nt want shared.

Why do you need Competitive Intelligence?

You don’t operate in an isolated market, and you are not the only people to offer what you do. You have something better to offer, but your competitors are targeting the same routes as you, and there is only so much of the pie to go around. It’s easy to caught out with your new products and think it’s better than it is. Gather sufficient information, understand your competitor/acquisition business model, isolate and take advantage of their strengths and weaknesses you will stay ahead of the game. 

Understand what your rivals are doing and importantly, why they are doing it. And understand the product’s attraction to customers. CI will also enable you to focus on winnable activities and sales pitches rather than wasting your time on pointless exercises. It gives you early warning of threats allowing you to make better decisions not based on the latest article in the local business press. It offers unbiased:

  • News
  • Views
  • Truth
  • And relevant analysis

However, CI will challenge your beliefs, open your eyes to the risk and opportunities and provide the team with undiluted content. 

How to start a Competitive Intelligence project

But, before you even start Googling, it is essential to understand what you need. Why you need to do it and what decisions you want to make.

Ask the right questions

  • Firstly, what do you need to know to solve a problem?
  • Secondly, what’s the problem?
  • And what’s the decision-maker trying to accomplish.
  • Also, who is the decision-maker?
  • How can we limit uncertainty for the decision-maker?
  • Avoid a yes/no question
  • Would a non-expert understand the question?
  • Summarise the problem in one sentence of no more
  • And, make sure the question is inclusive – broad enough to cover what we think we’ll need to cover, but narrow enough to provide a useful answer?
  • Finally, do the questions meet your needs?

What are the drivers?

  • Firstly, create a list of between 6-10 driver that covers what you need to answer the question
  • Then ascertain if every driver linked to the questions asked, or is there anything peripheral?
  • And make a basket for each driver to put associated into them.

On the right track?

  • Metrics that will help understand if you are on the right track?
  • Then, set a metric with a time frame and measurability than three lines.

Your needs

Produce a clear, simple understanding of what you want to do.

Situation

Describe the situation you are experiencing. And understand the key players and the problems are you facing. Also, describe what do you need to know and what will you do with the Intelligence.

The mission

What are you going to do about it? So, starting – Our mission is to…

The questions

We will answer the following intelligence questions by 12th October 2021 to create valuable Intelligence, insight and recommendations.

Actions on

What will we do if and when the plan changes?

Summary

This article is a Competitive Intelligence Explainer and Guide we explained what Competitive Intelligence, why it’s essential and introduced you to a fundamental process to help you plan your first project. An alternative of course, is to let us get on with it for you.

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Here are some case studies too. Also, for more information on ethics within Competitive Intelligence from SCIP
 
And here are some more articles from Octopus: