A Competitive Intelligence project

Keeping you safe in choppy waters

Competitive Intelligence project and what it could look like

Unlike spies in films we rarely need to find just one thing. One code, one briefcase. We will always have a number of things to find. A Competitive Intelligence project.
Also, CI is not spying and everything we do is ethical and legal.
This is just an ever evolving guide to intelligence and the secret is not believe there is a box, never mind thinking outside it.
But, the basic criteria is to spend a great deal of time planning for the exercise, collect the information you are looking for (and not looking for!), verify it and the secret sauce –  analysis and them tell people about your findings in good time.
However, this is our guide built on real time experience.
Competitive Intelligence project can be broken down as follows:

Achieving buy-in

It is essential that CI is conducted strategically, and that a great deal of work is undertaken at the start, in order to determine what you really need to know and why.

Getting buy in before starting a project also stops wasting people time when you find out there is no budget or enthusiasm for the project.

The process does not have to involve a lot of people, but it can help make your collection activities as effective as possible.

Selling Intelligence to seniors is critical

Selling Intelligence is essential to ensure CI is conducted strategically. And, undertake a great deal of work at the start. In order to determine what you really need to know and why.

Getting buy in before starting a project also stops wasting people time. Like, when you find out there is no budget or enthusiasm for the project.

The process does not have to involve a lot of people. But, it can help make your collection activities as effective as possible.

To overcome resistance and gain hearts and minds. Give all individuals, from managing director to administrator, ownership of objectives and actions relevant to their role.

One person has to be made responsible for the day-to-day running of the project, But every job description should contain information gathering as a key requirement.

This is one of the best bi-products of a good CI-gathering project:

Because seniority or job title is no barrier to participating. It acts as a fantastic team-building exercise.

It also helps to build a culture of competitiveness. Which can improve performance across the board.

Start with varied and interesting group sessions designed to determine and develop CI awareness throughout your company.

Analysis

Move onto war gaming and shadow marketing planning sessions. And perhaps build specific teams to monitor specific competitors.

Make sure it is simple for people to report information they have gathered to a central source.

There are some excellent pieces of software on the market. But it would be a good start just to set up a specific email address. Directed to an individual who is made responsible for collation and analysis of the information into a spreadsheet.

Make use of your current librarian service. But super-charge them with intelligence skills to get a fantastic return of investment from them.

Once the project has started producing valuable results. Communicate these results (and credit for the good work that went into achieving them) to make sure people understand their efforts and to encourage them to continue providing information.

Planning

Planning is extremely importantly, Even before you start Googling it is essential to fully understand what you need to do.
Why you need to do it? And, what decisions you want to make based on the intelligence?
This will help determine where you are now. And, where you want to be by understanding your marketplace, defining and measuring market information. Creating clear, as well as, relevant outcome-based Intelligence questions and much more.

Before you start collecting and analysing the information, you must be clear in what is it you are looking for and to ultimately achieve? Be clear where your pain is.

It will create focus and enhance your chances of success by defining the problem you wish to solve.

Data

It is not as simple as collecting all the information you have on your rivals.

All you get is data (history), snowed under with minimal direction as to what to do with it. 

Frustration will set in, and success will be measured by the amount of information you find, not the intelligence and subsequent action you derive from it.

So, answer these initial questions:

Situation

Where are you now?

Players

Who will be involved?

Drivers

What threats do you face?

Outcomes

And, what do you want to find out and by when?

Getting Started model

• Why do you need to know the intelligence?

• How will you use the results? – Understand what current and future business decisions your firm wants to take

• Who will use the intelligence?

• What information is relevant, who needs it and how will you monitor it?

During the planning phase, try and develop 2 or 3 questions you really need answering. And, incorporating the above using this model I have developed:

Define the Issue

Firstly, create a focused practical key question(s) and statement

Then understand if all parties understand and agree?

And, what & when do you need to know?

Finally, How will you use the Info?

What do you already know?

Your competitive landscape changes all the time. Take time out to understand what you think you know is still valid.

• Firstly, are your clients, prospects, market and suppliers the same?

• Then, what do you think of the market and the key players?

• What’s your opinion on new rivals strengths and weaknesses?

• Also, what about that new service your other competitor has just introduced?

• Why is your service unique, and how are you perceived in the market and who are the best people in their business?

• Also, which competitor has disappeared?

• Finally, has the market and your clients changed? How?

We would love to hear from you.

The right questions

 

  • Then, what’s the decision maker trying to accomplish?

 

  • What’s their goal?

 

  • Who’s the decision maker?

 

  • How can we limit uncertainty for the decision maker?

Drivers

Drivers tell us, it’s more than just good questions.

You have some great questions, and you are researching and talking to people. Now you will find yourself swamped with information on paper, Evernote, email and your cloud.

Then the realisation hits you that intelligence is so much more than researching Google really well — lots of data and no idea where to start.

It may sound simple, but the next step is to sort all the information into a limited number of piles.

Collection

You have decided you want to undertake some sort of CI activities and you have isolated what you want to know. Collecting information is where some choose to start a Competitive Intelligence project. But it will not end well for them.

Now you need to understand how to find it out.

There are two sources of information: secondary (print) and primary (people).

In terms of secondary sources, the first place you will look is probably the internet, but replying solely on the internet has a number of disadvantages, including the obvious one: most companies tend not to publish information that would be really valuable to you.

Data management

The first place you will look is probably the internet, but relying solely on the internet has several disadvantages, including the obvious one: most companies tend not to publish information that would be really valuable to you.

You may find news on your rivals and industry, but it is likely to be very general, historical and of little use.

Even if you do find a source of information which is useful to you, it may be very time-consuming to collect; software and outsourcing collection and specific projects will significantly reduce the time taken.

Analysis of the data

This the most important part of a Competitive Intelligence project.

You may want to participate in Competitive Intelligence, and you have piles and piles of information regarding your competitors. 

It is a common problem. You have commenced research on your competitors and revealed a significant amount of data. 

This is the first and perhaps hardest part of the process. You are busy collecting the data, but that is all it is – data.

Data tells us what the company is doing, Intelligence is supposed to understand what your rival intends to do.

To create Intelligence, you need to analyse the data you have. It is likely to be not the full picture because after all, you can not collect everything on the company.

Break down of analysis tools can be found here.

 

More information from SCIP here

Reporting and actions

Would a non expert understand the conclusion?

Can I summarise it in one sentence, with no more than 3 lines and dependent clause?

Did I highlight somewhere what I do not know and how I intend to address gaps?

Does the analysis have a clearly defined time frame attached, a date at which I think we should reconsider?

Report format

  • Introduction
  • What has happened?
  • Whats the answer?
  • What does it mean?
  • What happens next?
  • What can you do about it?
  • So what?

Then

  • Grammar check
  • Pictures selected
  • Info graph key findings