Know who your competitors are, know their strengths and weaknesses and determine how to stay one step ahead of them.
Competitive Intelligence is the ongoing process of monitoring what your competitors are doing, how you are countering any new initiatives they may introduce and looking at what proactive innovations you are introducing, apart from cutting prices, to stay at the forefront of your industry. Think about the following key points:
- Do not waste time gathering competitor information just for the sake of having it, if the intelligence you are gathering does not directly impact on your business and the decisions and actions you will have to take in the future, then do not even bother to collect it.
- Do not rely on rumour and innuendo; gather your information in an ethical manner from factual sources such as annual reports, trade publications, product manuals, technical reports, promotional literature, advertising, seminars, business networks etc.
- Remember that this process is as much about the combined knowledge and intelligence existing within your own organisation, as it is about knowing what the competitors are doing, involve all your team when brainstorming ways to combat your opposition in the marketplace
- Establish a database of this accumulated knowledge, do not leave it sitting inside the heads of individuals who could be lost to other organisations at any time
- Having completed the above process, determine what, if any, deficiencies remain in your accumulated intelligence and then look to interview externally in order to gather that information
- Collection and collation of intelligence information is only half the battle. You must now analyse that information
- There are a number of evaluation techniques available to any business; they include things such as a Swot analysis, win / loss analysis, trend analysis, core competence analysis etc.
- Consider the results of all analysis from the basis of , What does this result mean to our business and its successful future?
- Decide on the necessary courses of action you must now undertake in order to produce the most desirable outcome for your business
- Balance the time taken to collect information and analyse it, with your need for a result, do not allow analysis paralysis to stop you from taking action
- Outsource this activity if time is a concern, but ignore it at your peril