Information Does Not Guarantee Insight: How to Use the Competitive Intelligence That you Gather.

In 2017, there is no shortage of companies who gather competitive intelligence. Organizations are spending more money and time digging in to the factors, both internal and external, that have the power to affect their success and longevity. What may surprise you is the reality that many companies don’t use this information systematically to influence their decision-making. In reality, most organizations base their most important decisions on internal operational factors like budget, execution capacity and deadlines, ignoring the potential activities of their competitors.

Benjamin Gilad is the Co-founder and President of the Academy of Competitive Intelligence. In an article in Harvard Business Review, titled “Companies Gather Competitive Intelligence But Don’t Use It”, he writes:

In my experience, the competitive perspective is almost always the least important aspect in managerial decision-making. Internal operational issues including execution, budgets, and deadlines are paramount in a company’s deliberation, but what other players will do is hardly ever in focus. This “island mentality” is surprisingly prevalent among talented, seasoned managers.

How do you apply the CI data that you’ve gathered to your business? Here are just a few ways:

1. Competitive Intelligence Audit on all Major Decisions

Our first suggestion in ensuring that your CI data is being put to use is the implementation of a CI Audit on every major decision within your organization. To do this effectively, a member of your team should be assigned as the CI Captain, responsible for signing-off that the options presented to management for decision have been analyzed against available intel regarding the competitive environment you’re operating in.

2. Competitive Landscape Map (CLM)

A CLM is defined as a visual representation of your organization’s position within your competitive landscape. Often, a visual representation of data will help your team identify gaps in your industry that they may have never seen before thereby opening up new opportunities. Additionally, a visual tool will make your data more accessible to team members who are not as experienced with CI analysis or are visually inclined learners.

3. On-going Predictive Audit

Companies who systematically track competitive activity often stop short of using that data when it is most relevant (meaning, when it’s new). However, with adequate resources, this practice could be the very activity that propels your organization forward ahead of your competitors. In the case of Qworky (a meetings app), founder Mikal Lewis was able to predict that his competitor was prepping to launch a similar product by tracking and identifying patterns in their social media posts. He noticed that the content of their posts had changed and appeared to be building momentum for a launch. He was right and this insight allowed his team the opportunity to hyper-focus and launch first. More on that case, here

4. Comparative Analysis For Better Decision-Making

Applying CI data to your decision-making process can be exceptionally powerful when you engage in a comparative analysis. Through this process, possible outcomes are listed at the top of columns. CI data is listed under the possible outcome to which it applies. Once the data is plotted, patterns will emerge, highlighting likeliest outcomes. Comparative Analysis serves in a more robust way as a driver in marketing planning as well. This guide provides a thorough “how-to”.

Are you using your competitive intelligence as effectively as you could be? To learn more about our upcoming workshop series, click here.