Even though all businesses would like to know what their competitors are thinking and what they are implementing, most companies do not have a formal competitive intelligence (CI) plan in place. If they do it is usually something like subscribing to their newsletter or following their tweets, which is good if it makes up a component of the overall CI plan, but is severely inadequate on its own. Having an intimate understanding of what your competitors are planning or thinking will allow you to make better decisions for your own company to prosper. While this information shouldn’t impair your companies own unique proposition, it can provide valuable insight that can aid the timely release of new products, or help your organization to evaluate new business strategies at arm’s length.
For nothing else but to provide industry swot analysis or niche benchmarks, competitive intelligence can dramatically affect the direction of business progress. By allowing you company to identify its strengths and weaknesses, as compared to its competitors, it is better able to increase the competitive advantage around the strengths and shore up or remedy the weaknesses. Collecting the data is only a part of a good CI plan, as it has to be analyzed and formed into an actionable format. Having all of the CI data is great but not having understandable actionable results from it is as good as not having it at all.
When you are able to gain insights into your strengths and weaknesses as compared to your competitors, through a well-rounded CI process, your organization will be more inclined to take action to resolve the negative differences. By merely taking a look at the areas that could use the most improvement your company will likely put forth an effort to reach the same level or even surpass the competitive baseline. Depending on the energy and resources, your company may even use this CI data in order to become the niche or sector leaders.
Once your company can get in the habit of collecting, analyzing, and using the competitive intelligence data that is available, it will likely be in a better position to take a stronger position in the market. The multiple benefits from implementing a solid CI process are many, and the faster that you are able to implement, even a rudimentary process, the faster that you will gain an advantage over your competition. Innovate and iterate on the CI process and you will have all of the data that you need to make the best decisions on future plans, as well as improving your organization’s weaknesses.