What is competitive intelligence?
Competitive intelligence focuses on collecting and analyzing information about your competition to gain an advantage in the industry. No trench coats, disguises, or undercover agents are needed for this form of research. After all, competitive intelligence isn't the same as corporate espionage. Espionage is shady and secretive, while competitive intelligence is open and honest. However, it's almost like going through a competitor's garbage to look for clues about their plans and activities.
From the company's point of view, the value of competitive intelligence is earned by reducing the time spent deliberating about important decisions. For example, if a business notices a competitor doing something different on its website, the marketing team may decide to imitate the strategy with minimal pushback from stakeholders.
Competitive intelligence research enables strategic decision-making based on informed recommendations. It liberates decision-making from the highest-paid person in the organization (whom competitive intelligence expert Fouad Benyoub terms the HIPPO) and eliminates indecision and guesswork.
The purpose of competitive intelligence
Best-selling author of Superforecasting, Philip Tetlock, writes, "The task of intelligence is speaking truth to power, not telling executives who are temporarily in charge what they want to hear.”
Competitive intelligence analysts have to earn trust, but what they do is fundamental to the continuation of companies in any competitive marketplace.
By leveraging competitive intelligence to your advantage, you can create sales and marketing campaigns that are better and more strategic. As a result, you can drive more traffic than industry competitors.
Organizations can't succeed without competitive intelligence
Some executives say they don't care about competition, but every successful company does.
Even before a new company begins shipping its first Minimally Viable Product (MVP), it faces competition from other businesses vying for funding, talent, and market share. When a company claims it has no competition, it typically doesn't know about it yet.
Companies can't afford to believe that their competitors can't catch up with them. This principle also applies to well-established organizations.
When a company operates at scale, competitors know its strengths and weaknesses. Any business is in danger of being knocked off its pedestal of market leadership.
Competitive intelligence is about moving from data to intelligence
Competitive intelligence makes sense of all the fragmented data in the world that surrounds a business to convert it into actionable intelligence.
Competitive intelligence isn't something you can get from Google. It requires evaluating and integrating information from multiple sources and sorting it into helpful information.