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Top 3 Misconceptions In Competitive Intelligence in Practice

Over the course of the last decade, we have successfully concluded several hundred CI projects for IT / Telecoms clients globally. This puts us in a unique position to provide our product management clients with advice on what CI looks like in theory and how it should be implemented in practice.

It also gives us a unique view on common misconceptions about CI commonly held by executives, especially product management executives.

Here are our top-3 misconceptions from the field:

Misconception #3:

Head-to-Head product capability comparisons are enough to evaluate my competitors’ products.

In the recent past, there have been a number of websites (such as TrustRadius) that provide crowdsourced-based information comparing the capabilities of various IT hardware and software solution stacks. One of our clients’ product marketing managers felt that there were enough reviews about their enterprise-class software product, that he did not need human-based competitive intelligence.

While useful to a certain extent, such websites can never provide intelligence about your competitors such as product packaging, pricing, marketing, sales, R&D efforts, product roadmap plans, and dynamics of relationships that your competitors have with key accounts. This information can only be provided through human-based competitive intelligence.

Misconception #2:

Technology-based competitive intelligence will provide all the information I need.

In the competitive intelligence domain, we are seeing clients increasingly interested in using new tools such as social media on their CI projects. Tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Owler, Glassdoor can provide some information, but again, our experience shows that this information is questionable at best and, when used exclusively, is downright dangerous. More recently, there have been some VC-backed ventures that promise to use AI tools to provide competitive intelligence on a ‘massive’ scale with everything from website traffic to social media to product comparisons, all in one package.

We have seen this game before, and it is not going to end well. A well-known example was, which provided website analytics and keyword tools, and was purchased by the global survey company TNS for $150 million in 2008, only to be shut down in 2016.

Many of our clients have media-tracking services (such as Factiva) that can provide brick-loads of press releases on your competitors (based on keywords) that are rarely if ever, used by product management executives.

Misconception #1:

My internal teams can do all the competitive intelligence work in-house.

After 10 years of doing CI, we can say that the biggest ‘competitors’ we face are internal CI teams at our customers.

As we will point out in another blog post, while these internal teams can be operated to provide useful information, they are limited by the tools and methodologies at their disposal. Their tools are mostly internet research, conference/trade show participation, and access to analyst firms and expert networks that provide very limited (and biased) competitive information.

Ask yourself this question: When was the last time any of your internal CI team members sat down with an ex-executive at a competitor and talked about product roadmap plans for over one hour? It just does not happen.

For additional information about CI processes, click here.


We can help you to gain this 'under-the-hood' information about your competitors. Book now a free 30-min confidential webinar with our Chief Analyst where we can determine together if our unique HUMINT* approach can have an impact on your organization.

*What is HUMINT? Our experience has taught us that non-public and internal information can be gathered only by interviewing the relevant executives. Insights developed by HUMINT (Human Intelligence) about pricing models, sales channels, product roadmap etc., would bring knowledge that can be extremely valuable to you when struggling to perform in the competitive landscape.

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