“If you know your enemy and yourself, you will win every battle.”
- Sun Tzu
What is competitive intelligence?
Competitive intelligence is a structured approach to gathering, analyzing and communicating data to make informed business decisions.
That includes monitoring of your competitors, wherever and whoever they might be, within a specific marketplace.
Your competitors are those firms which you consider rivals in business, and with whom you compete for market share.
Why is it important?
Some great organizations went out of business just because they did not have enough knowledge about their environment. Whether it’s new players coming to the market or old players getting or losing market shares, competitive intelligence information provides a significant advantage when it comes to making strategic decisions.
Focus on decision making.
Competitive intelligence has little value if it’s not actionable. There are several questions you should ask yourself when making decisions in competitive intelligence field:
- What do we already know?
- What do we need to know?
- When do we need to know it?
- How can we act upon this information?
- How much does it cost to get it?
- How much can we lose if we don’t get it?
If one of you competitors just landed a big customer – it’s probably “good to know” rather than “must know” information. But what if more than 50% of the customers you lose go to one specific competitor? What if a prime competitor gains 1-2% of the market share each month? As Frederick the Great said, “It is pardonable to be defeated, but never to be surprised.”
So what can you do?
Some sources of collecting competitive intelligence are legal and some are not. Publicly available information on the Internet is one of the easiest, yet most valuable sources of competitive intelligence. Even better, it is perfectly legal to collect and analyze this information for your benefit.
The problem is, there are millions of websites that you have to sift through and analyze in order to get meaningful results. Nobody has resources to manually analyze millions of websites; therefore, a lot of public information remains uncovered.
Still, important changes are happening every day. Websites begin and end contracts with new vendors in a matter of hours, not days. Web companies are the ones who can benefit the most from the public information on the Internet. Being able to look at the market trends and understand your competitive environment is probably one of the things that you don’t want to miss. Knowledge is power. There are currently very easy and cheap ways to get this information so don’t be ignorant.
Don’t let your rivals win the war behind your back!
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