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The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Competitive Intelligence Function Using Existing Team - Part 2

<< This is the 2nd part of an article that aims to guide you through the process of executing a plan of that sort. Read Part 1 here. >>

The biggest misconception about competitive intelligence is that it is all about information about the competitors. Every business planning should feature competitive analysis, but just reading blurbs on the competition won’t provide much efficacy. Effective CI process will increase your win rates, improve your product planning process, lower your sales cost, and improve your market positioning.

Counting on the information that the sales managers are gathering, their web searching skills, or even analysts’ opinions simply means that you don’t take competitive strategy seriously and don’t fulfill the potential from actual CI.

Creating a CI function in the organization, enabling all teams to access the intel they need, is crucial. However, in many cases, allocating a full-time position is not an option for different reasons. That does not mean you should not create such a function and simply use one of your resilient employees to handle it.

This article aims to guide you through the process of executing a plan of that sort. More importantly, it shows how you can integrate this model effectively to strengthen existing structures and create a competitive advantage.

In the 1st part, we discussed where to locate the function, who are the internal consumers, how to identify and prioritize your competitors, and the value of Battle Cards.

In this final part, we will discuss the following steps:

Step 5. Internal Communication and Distribution.

Mapping the current flow of competitive information is only worth it if it is passed on adequately. Creating a cooperative, communicative dynamic within a business is arguably the most important lesson. Keeping stakeholders updated and informed allows for a consistent, natural flow of information. Stakeholders reporting and dashboards are examples of starting and upholding significant conversations between departments.

Passing the analyzed data through an informal expert network manager is an excellent way of gaining perspective. This internal expert network would benefit several departments – where managers who are connected to external sources can gain and compare intel and strengthen connections between different areas and departments. This internal cooperation can help shape intelligence more quickly and efficiently than a CI analyst alone. Creating regular meetings between analysts and management would build trust and create an access route for urgent discussions.

Step 6. Measuring Performance.

Competitive intelligence as a function gets more complex as the company’s size increases. There may be communication challenges in creating, collaborating, and distributing content in more prominent organizations. To avoid this, one should generate regular KPIs to provide up-to-date evaluations of competitors’ performance. By setting intricate goals, KPIs will allow businesses to track their process and measure how well the CI process is going. CI function should create extensive presentations on competition or equally detailed documents on industry trends.

Step 7. Management and Monitoring Tools.

Keeping an eye on products, and marketing, are crucial indicators of how a competitor may be functioning. A change in structure, increased media, or website activity could flag whether a business is expanding or shrinking. An acute researcher should use these events to draw assumptions, suggesting why and how the business might be responding and how the researcher's own company should react.

Gaining under the radar information is what sets businesses apart, and where you can find this intelligence is what makes for the best kind of competitor analysis…

Create general updates by keeping good relations with other companies in the industry. Fostering these relationships might alert companies to intel that isn’t available online. Gathering information by not disclosing who you are can be considered unethical. The best CI professionals don’t conduct their practice unethically but create strong ties with rivals to keep an eye on changing dynamics and significant indicators.

Research Data improves market evaluations, enhancing how the customer uses its data. Research should be collected on an ongoing basis, identifying trends, and gaining the ability to pre-empt how a competitor may respond. For example, mergers are particularly predominant in the post-pandemic economy in industries affected by this stagnation. Researchers should log these movements and provide quarterly updates, using this intel to help address any unexpected future activities. Logical and intelligent assumptions can only be made if the sources are reliable and detailed. Without actionable data, businesses have no blueprint for driving sales, finance, support, or market changes for efficiency and growth.

HUMINT provides market intelligence to support your organization’s strategy, tactics and actions. Product features and functionalities, pricing and licensing, and sales strategies to strengthen an understanding of your rivals.

CI Management platforms collect data from millions of sources and use AI to surface the most relevant competitive intelligence for your business. All are shared in one central location, and it’s a reliable and easily accessible source.

Researchers should log these movements and provide quarterly updates, using this intel to help address any unexpected future activities.

Step 8. Turning Data Into Results.

The effectiveness of CI depends first and foremost on how and where it is used. Actionable data is the difference between organizations operating under a truly empowered business performance management ecosystem and those stuck on the wheel of data collection.

Once gathered, what do you do with that data?

A global survey found that only 31% of employees called their company ‘data-driven’. More than 50% didn’t view their companies as using their data efficiently, and over 70% said their company doesn’t even have a stable data culture.

Building a framework around actionable data has never been more vital, and acquiring the most from collected data, organizations should consider the following stages.

Blend Data Sources. Central data stores streamline the often separate, department-specific data tools deployed across the enterprise. Integrating these systems under one umbrella data warehouse would enhance strategic intelligence. For example, ‘wargaming’ provides a reality check on business planning and brings together different departments. This is the key first step to using data for actionable CI.

Add Context. Use reports to find the reasons behind data patterns or fluctuations. Excavate further to observe different ways or irregularities, connecting the dots between information. Look beyond raw data for additional market circumstances and atmospheres that could be impacting your current situation. This context allows leaders to see the dynamism at play, better prepared for potential risks or calls for change.

Translate Data into Specific Business Questions. Frame data in grounded, concrete questions using terms relevant, not just data experts. For example, what are we trying to achieve by assessing this report? What departments are this information most critical for?

Determine the Best Course of Action. Your organization no longer needs to guess when making critical decisions using factual data. Business planning is boosted by context, and using this intel to shape a coherent course of action would allow for future success.


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