Competitive Intelligence Redefined and The Hidden Edge

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Competitive Intelligence Redefined and The Hidden Edge

Within the world of business strategy, where self-proclaimed gurus, good eggs and wannabes wrestle with the future’s uncertainties, a bold voice cuts through the noise – Ben Gilad, a titan in competitive intelligence. He dares to say that competitive intelligence isn’t about knowledge. It’s a radical departure from what’s been put out there. But stick with me here: Do you mean Competitive intelligence is not data-driven? Knowledge, that vast ocean of data and information, is often seen as the key part of business foresight. But Gilad turns this on its head, arguing that when it comes to competitive intelligence, it’s not the knowledge of the future that counts – it’s the insight. The insight that you can do something with. And we completely agree. 

Competitive intelligence is an art form, a nuanced understanding of the data and what lies beneath human behaviour, irrational choices, and cultural shifts. 

And there’s a key difference

Enter the age of AI – the latest buzzword echoing through the halls of competitive intelligence. Everyone’s talking about it, and the competitive intelligence software platforms are adding AI to their offer. Not surprising as they have to. Some AI tools will benefit these platforms’ current offerings. But as most platforms have similar features, they must bring in something with AI. If they don’t, their competitors will. We have seen this in more general platforms. Take Evernote. They have brought in an AI search capability. They had to follow their competitors. But who uses it? It’s no different from Evernote’s non-AI search. It just looks clever. 

Back to competitive intelligence. Here’s the thing: they’re missing the point. It’s all about AI as an information aggregator, a knowledge machine. But where’s the talk about AI as a purveyor of competitive intelligence assets? Gilad says it’s alarmingly absent.

This is where we need to tread carefully. There’s a hidden trap that’s all too easy to fall into. It’s the belief that AI, with all its computational power and data-crunching prowess, equates to intelligence. And will AI force your sales team to read those battle cards your competitive intelligence software wants you to use? And if they do, will AI ensure that the information within battle cards is not six months out of date? The answer is a big fat no!

Competitive intelligence is an art form, a nuanced understanding of the data

But let’s pause and rethink. In its current form, AI is a powerful tool, yes, but just a tool. It can sift through data, spot patterns, and even predict trends. But does it understand the nuances, the human elements, and the unpredictable shifts in market dynamics? Not quite, and perhaps not yet. Competitive intelligence is an art form, a nuanced understanding of the data and what lies beneath human behaviour, irrational choices, and cultural shifts. 

It’s about insight, that elusive, often intangible spark that shines a light on the path forward in a way raw data never can. The future of competitive intelligence isn’t in the hands of algorithms, developers and machines. It’s in the blend of human intuition and increasingly powerful technological capability.  It’s in the understanding that while AI can provide us with an ocean of information, the human touch navigates these waters with wisdom and insight.

Now, with a Twist of Crypto and AI Hype

Ben Gilad’s assertion that competitive intelligence is not about knowledge but about insight is timely. But let’s add more – Remember the whirlwind of Crypto, FTX, NFTs and all the rest?  Remember 2022? The year when Crypto and FTX were heralded as the future of reshaping the finance sector? The buzz was intense, the predictions bold. And yet, here we are, looking back with hindsight at a landscape altered, not always for the better. It’s a classic tale of hype over substance, where the glitter of innovation blinded many to the hard truths of volatility and regulatory oversight.

Similarly, NFTs – those digital art darlings – were touted as the revolution in art and ownership. Everyone from your next-door neighbour to celebrities (Hey Gary Vee) was jumping on this bandwagon. Fast forward to now, and the story has changed. The hype has cooled or disappeared, the market has adjusted, and we’re left with a more nuanced understanding of the value and potential of NFTs. 

Now, back to AI. Yes, it’s a step significant change in technology. A marvel that’s transforming industries. But here’s where we need to learn from our lessons with Crypto and NFTs. The hype around AI in competitive intelligence and general business is reaching feverish levels, with predictions and promises that sometimes border on the fantastical. 

undoubtedly a Powerful Tool

AI is undoubtedly powerful, but it’s not the panacea for every business challenge. AI, in its essence, is a tool – sophisticated, yes, but not Orak. (10 points if you know what/who Orak was). It can analyse, predict, and even learn. Still, it lacks innate human insight and the ability to read between the lines of data to understand the irrational, emotional, and cultural nuances that drive markets and consumer behaviour. Ask the man or woman in the street what AI is; most of the time, they will not know or indeed care. The same was true with crypto, blockchain, and NFTs.

And, of course, using ChatGPT to analyse competitors and markets will get better and better. And if repeatedly ask it a question again and again, it will eventually become more consistent. Or you will find the answer you want to read. Dripping in bias and confirming that your idea to move forward is right. But we are forgetting one thing. If you can use generative AI for competitive intelligence, so can your competitors. So, you will get results, answers, and insights similar to theirs. So everything is back to vanilla and companies offering “me-too” products and services. The benchmarking to make sure you are the same as them. Not to go beyond them.

Read More: Why Competitive Analysis is Highlighting The Changing Investor Appetite Landscape

Still down with the kids

Let’s get this straight: we are not old and blind to technology. We don’t want to downplay AI’s potential in competitive intelligence, business and life! Instead, we must be a blend of excitement and caution. Like the rollercoaster rides and crazy stories of Crypto and NFTs, AI’s journey in competitive intelligence will be marked by highs and significant lows. AI looks like a game-changer. First, we had a desktop computer, then the internet, then mobile smartphones, and now AI. It’s a major game changer. 

But still, the key to competitive intelligence is to see beyond the hype to balance the technological prowess of AI with the irreplaceable value of human insight. As we navigate these exciting yet unpredictable waters, remember this. In the world of competitive intelligence, the future belongs to those who can blend the analytical power of machines with the nuanced understanding of human behaviour. It’s not just about having information or even knowledge; it’s about having the insight to see what lies beneath and beyond.

So, as we march into the future, let’s not be dazzled by the allure of AI in competitive intelligence. Instead, let’s focus on cultivating true competitive insight – the kind that sees beyond the numbers and charts and understands the human element at the heart of every business challenge. That’s the future of competitive intelligence – where insight, not just information, reigns supreme.

Competitive Intelligence Redefined and The Hidden Edge

The article offered a perspective on the role of competitive intelligence in business strategy. It emphasises the argument presented by Ben Gilad, a noted figure in the field, who challenges the conventional view that competitive intelligence is primarily about knowledge. Gilad asserts that it’s important not just the accumulation of data and information (knowledge) but also the insight that can be derived from it. Then, the growing trend of incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into competitive intelligence tools points out that while AI can aggregate information and spot patterns, it may lack the capability to understand nuances and unpredictabilities in market dynamics. It cautions against the belief that AI’s computational power is synonymous with true intelligence, especially in providing up-to-date and relevant competitive insights.

The key message is that the future of competitive intelligence lies not just in technological advancements like AI but in combining these tools with human intuition and insight. The true value lies in understanding beyond mere data and acknowledging the human element in business challenges. The article concludes by emphasising that competitive intelligence’s future should focus on cultivating true insight and understanding the human aspects behind the numbers and charts.

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Competitive intelligence is the finding & critical analysis of information to make sense of what’s happening & why. Predict what’s going to happen & give the options to control the outcome. The insight to create more certainty & competitive advantage.

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