Competitive Intelligence Project Delays: Why We Can’t Afford to Wait

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Competitive Intelligence Project Delays and Why We Can’t Afford to Wait

Disruption is the new normal. We often find ourselves at a crossroads regarding competitive intelligence or competitor analysis. The question isn’t about gathering data but the urgency and prioritisation. Yet, many, surprisingly, put their intel plans on the back burner. Treating them as optional rather than integral. This approach is like a general entering battle without scouting the enemy. Not only risky but downright dangerous. It’s worse; it’s going into battle but not knowing who is on your side or where the battle is to be fought. Time to get your competitive intelligence project back on track.

The Misplaced Priorities in Competitive Analysis

But many companies like this wouldn’t delay a new company car strategy. So why the complacency with competitive intelligence? The reality is that competitive analysis isn’t a one-off task. It’s an ongoing process of understanding market dynamics and consumer behaviour. And, most importantly, the moves of your competitors.

A six-month delay in analysing competitive intelligence is not just a missed opportunity. It’s a complete cockup. Increasingly, it will kill that company. By the time they gather those insights, the market has shifted. And here’s the kicker. Their competitors who didn’t hit the pause button will be miles ahead. But they won’t know they are. It leads businesses to chase the current fad or strategic shift. The trouble is that they don’t know if it’s passing hype or a transformation that could kill them. 

Why do Companies Hesitate?

There’s an aspect to competitive intelligence that often goes unspoken. It’s the fear of what you might find. Like their competitors are doing something radically innovative. Or competitors are capturing market share in ways they hadn’t thought about. This fear can paralyse decision-makers, leading to a “bury your head in the sand” approach. But ignorance isn’t bliss in the business world. It’s a big fat vulnerability. 

The Critical Nature of Competitive Intelligence

Competitive intelligence is about more than keeping tabs on competitors. Buying a monitoring platform, and there you go, sorted. It’s about understanding the entire market landscape. Identifying emerging trends, understanding customer sentiments, and foreseeing potential disruptions. You cannot plan to do it in maybe 6 to 9 months or the next financial year. This intelligence forms the backbone of your strategic decisions, from product development to sales and marketing campaigns. It’s not about defence but the offence, too. Understanding your competitors’ weaknesses and gaps in their strategies means you can exploit them. Gain market share and solidify and increase your position.

Read more: How to be Competitive Within Markets Containing Well-Established Companies

What’s baffling is what emerges. Companies quickly invest in tangible assets like new software, office spaces, and even company cars. But show reluctance to invest in something as critical as competitive intelligence. This delay is not a gap in strategy. It’s a blind spot in understanding the modern market dynamics where information is power. It’s crazy.

A Dangerous and Oversight of Competitive Intelligence

Another intriguing yet perilous diversion often occurs. Intriguing, as in wondering what they are taking. They halt their competitive intelligence to focus on acquiring another business. This move, while seemingly logical, is fraught with risk. It’s a major critical strategic oversight. Like chess players so focused on capturing a queen, the obvious checkmate is ignored. Despite what bankers, investors and accountants say, they don’t have all the answers. Before, during and after acquisition, the need for insight doesn’t reduce; it intensifies. The landscape becomes even more complex. Surrounded by new competitors, markets and customer segments are coming into play. And how do they know they have chosen the right target in the first place? Wouldn’t it be sensible to go into an acquisition knowing this stuff first? Knowing the management team’s track record? Or understand what their customers think of them?

Read more: Geopolitical and Business Risks and Opportunities in 2024

It’s a dangerous gamble, but don’t worry. Some will come off. Some will be a success. If it fails, sack the CEO and bring in another one. The real craziness lies in assumption. There’s an assumption that an acquisition can propel them forward. But without a deep, ongoing knowledge of the competitive environment? Integrating competitive intelligence during an acquisition can be the difference between a masterstroke and failure.

Considering an Intelligence Project, Why Wait?

The message here is clear: the time for competitive intelligence is not six months down the line; it’s now. It’s a continuous process that should be ingrained in your company’s DNA. Embrace competitive analysis as a part of your everyday business strategy. And you will reduce risk and unlock opportunities for growth and innovation. And it’s not about writing battle cards and letting them fester. Then, wondering why the sales teams don’t use them.  Competitive intelligence can’t be another item on the checklist. It’s the lens through which you should view your entire landscape. Neglecting it is not a lost opportunity; it’s a strategic mistake that can cost you in the long run. So, the question remains: will your company wait or act now to gain that competitive edge?

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