Competitive Intelligence (CI) is the practice of legally and ethically collecting and using information about your competitor to gain a strategic and business advantage.
However, data collection is meaningless without knowing what to look for, and what to do with the information. Here is where analytics comes in.
Strategic and goal-based competitive intelligence solutions allow you to draw meaningful trends or insights from data that can help you deliver that advantage: significant increase in revenue and better, data-backed, long and short-term strategies.
CI Analytics is not new, but earlier, while only the biggest enterprises could leverage it, now, given the proliferation of information sources, even small enterprises can reap its benefits. Indeed, a Crayon study found that, in 2020, the number of enterprises that have a dedicated team of CI analysts increased by 20%.
Big or small enterprise, in today’s market, to stand out amongst your competition — which is increasing by the hour — leveraging CI analytics is a must. So, here is a guide any CEO can use to get started.
1. Mind your sources
First, the practice is ethical and legal, which means that you should in no circumstances engage in stealing, bribing, or hacking.
Second, most people would make their first search on Google, but Google search results represent only a fraction of information that you could collect and analyse to your advantage.
As a CEO, you or your team must mine a variety of sources, in great depth, to always be a step ahead. Here are some we recommend:
All these and other sources should make for all you need to know to stay ahead in the game.
2. Set an objective
As we mentioned earlier, CI analytics is most effective when it is goal-based. After you have mined umpteen sources for market and competitor data, ask yourself what is it that you want to learn?
For example, do you want to understand in better detail the pain points of your customers? CI analytics with this objective could yield actionable insights that could boost sales. Or, consider learning a new approach to customer communication, which could inspire your marketing team to take it up a notch. Similarly, there is competitor pricing, which could compel you to reassess yours.
Set an objective. And take it from there.
3. Make a strategy
Now that you have all the information you need and you know what you are looking for, we can move on to how to go about looking for it. In other words, next, create a strategy.
An ideal strategy would be a highly researched, highly detailed plan or algorithm that guarantees, or is at least very likely, to deliver actionable outcomes.
First, while big enterprises have a dedicated team of CI strategists, you can either do it yourself or hire a team that comprises a variety of experts in fields such as market research, data science solutions, good communication, critical thinking, finance, detail orientation, big picture planning and so forth.
Second, the best strategy is a dynamic strategy, one that constantly evolves. What if the government imposes certain regulations that impact your industry? Would a static strategy be able to adapt to it? An excellent CI analytics strategy is an exercise in preparation, in never being caught off guard.
And hence, as a CEO you must always be on your toes: constantly educating yourself, monitoring data in real-time, staying updated on the market and the regulations that may affect it.
That is how you enter a market. And then conquer it.
Lastly, it is worth reasserting that while CI analytics is a highly effective practice to close gaps in your strategy and look for growth opportunities, always make sure that you do it legally and ethically. Win, fair and square.