Benefits of Competitive Intelligence Analysis

Competitive Intelligence Analysis Benefits of Competitive Intelligence AnalysisOur capitalist society is driven by business competition. It’s a “survival of the fittest” landscape, but this competition is also a powerful driver of creativity and innovation. Any advantage a business can gain or create for themselves increases their odds of success. This applies to being the very best at what they do, but also keeping an eye on the other players on the field. Being aware of what other similar businesses are up to is crucial to being able to outperform them. Gathering the information needed to stay ahead of the pack can be accomplished through competitive business intelligence analysis.

If you run a business, your competitors could be identified as:

• Enterprises currently offering the exact products and/or service as your business does now.
• Enterprises offering similar products and/or services to the ones you currently offer.
• Enterprises that might potentially offer the same or similar products and/or services as your business in the future.
• Enterprises that could offer products that would remove the need for your product and/or service.

Some of the things it is valuable for a business to know about their competitors are:

• How they think
• Their strengths
• Their weaknesses
• Details about projects or innovations in the pipeline
• Any current or imminent setbacks (lawsuits, bad press, product recalls, etc.)
• Current clients
• New or potential new clients

Why Monitor Your Business Competitors?

In short, being aware of what your direct or potential competitors are up to can help your business to:

• Anticipate their next move(s)
• Ramp up what you’re doing to exceed their strengths
• Be ready to fill in the gap in the market where they are falling short

How to Implement a Competitive Intelligence Analysis

There are seven basic steps to monitoring your competitors:

1. Deciding what sort of information will be most beneficial to your business
2. Collecting this information
3. Converting the collected information into actionable business insights
4 Integrating the collected information with existing data
5. Analyze and interpret your findings
6. Communicate the intelligence to relevant parties
7. Put the information to productive use in gaining a competitive advantage in your market sector

Where Does the Information Come From?

Business intelligence and information can come from a variety of sources, including:

• Online databases such as Dunn & Bradstreet.
• Your sales representatives. They deal directly with people in your industry and are likely to hear what competitors are up to.
• Your purchasing department, who may find out one of your suppliers is now also supplying a competitor.
• Your R&D department can keep tabs on applications for new patents (see Thomson Scientific’s patent service.)
• Market research could gather feedback from current or former customers of your competitors.
• Information about lawsuits or other legal action from public records.
• Global Press information via companies such as Factiva, Lexis-Nexis, Dialog, etc.
• Interviewing industry experts.
• Monitoring your competition’s online social media activity.
• Attending trade shows or industry events and socializing with those in the know.

The Benefits of a Competitive Intelligence Analysis

There are a number of fairly obvious benefits to gleaning information about your competitors and using it in a proactive way. Here are some of the main benefits:

• Anticipating Competitor Innovations

Gathering information on what competitors are doing can help inform your decision-making processes in terms of your new products and plans.

• A Longer-Term View

Gaining insight into how your competitors believe your industry will change and develop over the next 5 to 10 years can help to inform your own longer term planning.

• Countering Competitor Actions

If you are aware ahead of time that the board of one of your competitors is looking at a potential merger, an acquisition or a new partnership, you could take preemptive action if it’s in the best interests of your company. At any rate, you won’t be surprised when it happens, and you’ll have already considered your response and possible counter-measures.

• Learning from Competitor Mistakes

If you are aware of any losses, errors, mistakes or negative customer feedback a competitor is experiencing, this can help you to avoid making the same mistakes.

The benefits of a competitive intelligence analysis are clear. Gathering competitive business intelligence is one of the best ways to take the pulse of your industry and anticipate how your company can stand out in your sector going forward. You’ll know ahead of time where your competition is headed and be able to craft measured responses to any big moves they might make. You’ll be inspired to new levels of innovation by your competitors’ successes and be able to learn from their mistakes without having to make those mistakes yourself.

The internet and social media have added a new dimension of ease and accessibility to gathering competitive intelligence. Online databases, social media postings and news in nearly real time have all made it easier than ever to create a rich and detailed portrait of your competitors. Indeed, gathering, analyzing and effectively using competitive intelligence is one of the keys to success and longevity for any size business. The good news is that it’s never been easier.

About the author:

This post was written by Jeff Shjarback. Jeff Shjarback, MBA is a Marketing Consultant, Writer and Blogger that enjoys blogging about digital marketing, business, finance, economics, technology, websites and business philosophy. To learn more about Jeff you can visit his Google Author Profile.

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