Competitive Intelligence (CI) is the ethical collection and analysis of competitor information. Companies use the results to inform strategic decision-making, and to establish/maintain market advantage and differentiation.
How does Competitive Intelligence work?
CI is a business function that works alongside other organizational departments to conduct primary and secondary research. The most important part of CI is ensuring that the data collected is accurate and meaningful to stakeholders. Ensuring accurate and meaningful data collection requires competitive intelligence programs to offer a variety of services. These services allow CI programs to collect, analyze, and distribute data that address the unique needs of an organization, department, and team.
What are some of the types of Competitive Intelligence?
Competitor Assessments are an in-depth look at a company’s competitors. Unlike a competitor profile, competitor assessments often include ongoing competitor and market tracking. Competitor assessments are customized according to client needs and are often used to support specific decisions. The assessments include deeper analysis based on client needs and presents findings based on analysis and recommendations for action.
Scenario Planning: Scenario Planning helps companies develop long-term plans to address changing markets and conditions. Typically, participants are divided into teams to identify and model company strategies in response to a scenario. Done correctly scenario planning can provide companies with guide or list of how to respond to a variety of situations and scenarios including competitive threats.
War Gaming: War Gaming is an exercise in which participants try and predict competitor moves through role play. A facilitator presents specific market scenarios based on pending events such as a product launch or regulatory change. The participant teams then model how the competitor will react to the scenario. An effective war game gives insight into how a competitor will implement strategy, identify actions in response to the competitors’ strategy, and reduce uncertainty in uncertain times.
Trade Show Intelligence provides companies access to unique information that generally cannot be obtained through traditional research methods. Trade shows bring most major market participants in the same location where they are ready to network. The environment encourages people to be more open to discussing their organization and its products. This allows researchers to identify new trends, information, and insights in the given market.
Primary Research for CI is conducted by researchers with the purpose of gaining competitive insights. For CI professionals this means conducting in-depth interviews with professionals and industry experts. Primary research may be backed by secondary research, which is knowledge aggregated from publicly available sources. Secondary research is typically used to develop a foundation of knowledge, while primary research is typically used to find powerful information, and actionable insights.