Head of Competitive Intelligence Answers the Questions

In this article, the Head of Competitive Intelligence at Worldline, Louise Freer Jones answers our questions. We have introduced a new series where we ask people we admire within Competitive Intelligence eight pertinent questions. This week we hear from Louise Freer Jones, Head of Competitive Intelligence – Worldline.

1. In your view, what’s Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive Intelligence is the systematic and rigorous analysis of information on external competitive factors, such as competitors, markets, technologies, to deliver actionable insights. Such insights contribute to tactical, operational and strategic decisions and form an essential part of helping businesses to understand their competitive environment. The ultimate mission is to contribute to the sustainable competitive advantage of the company.

2. In your view, what’s the true benefit of CI?

I see the benefit on two sides: minimising risk (CAPEX decisions, greenfield, roadmap decisions, grey rhinos) and gaining competitive advantage (future-proofing solutions, tactical and operational positioning).

3. How would you advise a company with no experience in Competitive Intelligence to get started? 

An internal survey asking key stakeholders fundamental questions their knowledge of the market, potential disruptors, competitors etc. Buy-in from senior management is key. Set realistic pragmatic targets, e.g. start with a newsletter to sensitise stakeholders to what is going on and the potential impact on the company.

4. What analytical tools do you recommend?

It depends on the type of company. Start with the key intelligence questions, then decide what sources you need and the tools you will need to analyse the data. Personally, I use Excel for most of my analysis.

5. Competitive Intelligence is becoming too much about risk mitigation, copying the competitor and the last dataset. And not enough about growth, exploration and creation. It can stop people from being original, risky and creative enough. Do you agree?

This is certainly a danger. It is all about finding a balance, and it is not just about competitors but about anticipating market requirements before the competitors. A me-too strategy can be a valid strategy, but it should not be the default strategy; otherwise, you could find yourself too late to market. Again, it also depends heavily on the market in which you operate.

6. Without giving away anything confidential, what’s the best result you have achieved with CI?

No single best result. We have continually highlighted early warning signals on new trends which have resulted in key strategic projects.

7. Artificial Intelligence and platforms will transform CI, and there will be no need for human input in the future. The longevity of the job of a Competitive Intelligence analyst is limited? Do you agree?

Not in our segment. An AI platform can save time and effort by web crawling, consolidating datasets and texts and enable CI analysts to do a much better job. But it cannot truly (yet) understand all signals and produce recommendations. It cannot “read between the lines and the silences”. The key skill of what I do is actually asking the right questions: I see platforms to address these questions.

8. Finally, what’s the one piece of advice you would give a CI analyst?

Start with the right question, then find the right data, be robust in the analysis so that your recommendations can be defended. Always remain inquisitive and do not be afraid to ask the difficult questions.

Thank you for your time, Louise.

In this article, the Head of Competitive Intelligence at Worldline, Louise Freer Jones, answers our questions. This article is the first in the series where we asked great people who really understand Competitive Intelligence their thoughts on the subject.

Worldline is not and has never been a client of Octopus.

Who are Worldline?

Worldline is the new world-class leader in the payments and transactional services industry, with a global reach. We are at the forefront of the digital revolution that is shaping new ways of paying, living, doing business and building relationships. Our strengths in innovation are matched by the power and robustness of our platforms, the security of our solutions and the quality of our services.


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What is competitive intelligence?

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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