What is competitive intelligence (CI)? Is it for big corporations or can start ups and small businesses benefit? In what ways can CI contribute to growth of any company?
Let's delve right in.
What Is Competitive Intelligence?
Competitive intelligence is a system for gathering and analyzing data and information about a competitor and how understanding aspects of your competitor can help further your companies goals for growth and continuity.
In essence, CI collects a lot of information and provides context and meaning by turning raw competitive data into actionable intelligence.
Who Benefits From Competitive Intelligence?
Every business can benefit from CI. What company (small or large) doesn't want some sort of information that would give them a leg up on their competitor?
Some of the benefits to a competitive intelligence project or continued program include:
Helps companies anticipate market changes
Aids in anticipating the actions of competitors
Can help discover new competitors
Finds emerging potential competitors
Learn from success and failures of your competitors
Increases the quality of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A)
Learn about how the pace of technology is helping competitors
See your own business with an open mind
Find new management tools
Is Competitive Intelligence Illegal or Unethical?
No, competitive intelligence is not illegal or unethical. Of course in any industry one can blur the lines. But at Steve Garrett™ we practice ethical approaches to gathering intelligence for our clients.
The illegal form of getting information on competitors is called Industrial Espionage — something we are clearly against.
We look for information and intelligence by using open-source intelligence, public documents obscured by bureaucracy and through proprietary intelligence gathering resources. We watch, read, and listen.
How many opportunities has your company missed the boat on because you had no idea what your competitors were up to?
Competitive intelligence is another scaleable solution that can be very budget conscious. Since it can be sized up or down, it can easily be taken in manageable chunks so as to not over-strain any companies fiscal concerns. However, with that said, it is worth every penny.
Obviously you can imagine huge projects that take a team, travel expenses, etc. Maybe the CI team travel to various locations, perhaps trade shows or shadowing sales persons or company executives to learn who they are meeting with.
However, picture something a bit simpler:
You are starting a pest control business. We suggest that we surveil the activities of your competitor to learn where their customers are located, therefore giving you the opportunity to learn a few key pieces of information:
The addresses of persons using the service you offer
The methodologies (good and bad) your competitor uses while on the job
Times of day they visit the customers
How they present themselves
What products they are using
Yes, a CI project can be had for as little as $1,500. Uncovering the latest pharmaceutical to compete with your brand can cost over $100k. You can chose how to prioritize your CI project.
I'd like to share the importance of competitive intelligence. This is just a brief over view, and books are written on this subject — but CI is extremely beneficial to most businesses in one way or another.
Remember, your CI project does not have to be of monstrous proportions. It is completely legal and ethical, when done properly. Our CI projects use public information often hidden in the depths of a government building or in some sort of other public filing in a court house.
Most of our work is done from the office, or out digging up public information. Sometimes it entails speaking to former employees or surveillance.
If we can help, please get in touch.