Disruptive technologies are currently driving business transformation at a relentless pace. Seemingly overnight, yesterday’s second tier (or even third tier) companies can become today’s market leaders as technologies like the cloud, artificial intelligence, and ubiquitous mobile computing lower barriers to entry, transform business models, and accelerate innovation.
Organisations that can stay ahead of their fast-changing markets are best placed for success if they deploy competitive intelligence (CI). 85% of enterprise decision-makers say they have a time frame of two years in which to make significant inroads into digital transformation or they will fall behind their competitors and suffer financial consequences as a result1. Competitive intelligence empowers business leaders to stay informed of their competitor’s strategies and movements so they can lead their markets and position their products or services to win. The ROI of CI is real. Nine out of ten businesses get quantitative benefits from CI, with 52% citing a measurable increase in revenue (according to the 2019 State of Competitive Intelligence Highlights report).
While most businesses recognize the increasing importance of CI, making it part of a company’s DNA isn’t necessarily straightforward. There can be a number of challenges, including:
Keeping up with a vast amount of ever-changing information – organizations need to monitor enormous volumes of competitor data, from product updates to hiring trends.
Organizing information into insights – businesses will need to trawl latest available information, identify and prioritize key themes, and adapt their strategies in real time.
Turning intelligence into action – businesses will need to share intelligence and resulting strategies internally to ensure that leadership, sales, marketing, and product teams are able to transform those insights into action.
But there is a way of using Competitive Intelligence to help gather insights, define your strategy, increase your impact, and monitor success. These include capturing competitor information quickly to deliver a holistic view that includes products, customers, sellers, and the market; then, using these insights to develop a strategy that accentuates your company’s differentiators; turning your insights into actions, giving your marketing and sales teams the information they need to enable them to win customers, and finally, staying on top of the latest information in real time so that you can update and optimize your strategy accordingly and keep your marketing and sales teams up to date. Each of these components on their own will deliver tangible benefits, but when combined, the overall impact can be transformational.
There are many sources available to capture competitive insights. From your sales team, you will be able to gain information on how your competitors approach customers, build relationships, and position their offerings. From your customers, you can get input on their current challenges and perceptions. From the industry news-cycle, you can obtain information on the latest product announcements, leadership changes, and events. By capturing and synthesizing information from different sources, you will get a more complete and overarching view of the competitive landscape.
Once you have a combined view of information from multiple sources, you can distil it into the key themes needed to define your complete strategy. This is essential for communicating information in a way that is useful and actionable for your marketing and sales teams. This means organizing data and insights into a competitive positioning framework that business can easily understand and act on.
Information is only as good as the format in which it is delivered. To act on competitive intelligence, the people in your organization need it delivered in an easily consumable format that starts with high-level information and enables them to quickly get the details they need.
Once you have created your strategy, it’s essential to be able to translate it into action. The return on investment in competitive intelligence is only realized when you deliver materials that enable sales teams to win deals, that optimize your marketing to differentiate against the competition, and prioritize your product development efforts. And, critically, this means understanding how your teams are going to be using this information. Talk to your leadership, sales, marketing, and product teams. Organize this discovery around what information they need and to what level of detail; how this information should be structured for them to best understand and communicate it, and what type of deliverable is best for easy consumption.
To stay ahead of your competition, ongoing monitoring of data to ensure strategies remain up to date is critical. 65% of businesses that update their competitive intelligence weekly see a revenue increase as a result of CI. This goes up to 75% for those that update CI daily.2
Real-time monitoring helps keep your finger on the pulse, ensuring competitive intelligence is consistently up-to-date, relevant, and valuable. This is complemented by regular refreshes to your insight tactics, such as qualitative interviews, quantitative surveys, and mystery shopping. This turns static insights into a dynamic flow of information. It’s also important to deliver competitive guidance via online formats that can be updated anytime, so you know your internal teams are always accessing the latest information.
This approach provides a framework for companies to outpace their competitors in a fast-changing business environment. It can be daunting but implemented effectively competitive intelligence can deliver quick wins and rapid return on investment.
About The Author
Fernando Mendez, CEO, Audienz A lifelong technology entrepreneur, Fernando Mendez brings 23 years of experience and executive tenure to Audienz. Whilst at McKinsey & Co., he advised multi-national corporations on strategic planning, corporate finance, and new market development. Today, Fernando works with Fortune 50 corporations to develop and execute complex marketing campaigns.