This article discusses how to manage data within Competitive Intelligence.
Data management can be broken down as follows:
. Place data into driver baskets and remove anything that doesn’t fit.
- Play with the data
- Then, try and distinguish between what is known, unknown and what we think we know?
- Determine Hard drivers (capability) and soft drivers (intent)?
- Grade the confidence of each designated driver (Red. Amber Green)
- Any vulnerability to overconfidence in assessing intent?
- How many drivers are graded green? Too confident?
- Focus on the gaps in my knowledge, and how can we address them
- How will we present these gaps in the final report?
- Is there data which does not fit into one of the driver baskets?
- What do we do with it?
Where can we get this data?
The first place you will look is probably the internet. But relying solely on the internet has several disadvantages. The obvious one is that most companies tend not to publish valuable information.
And you may find news on your rivals and industry, but it is likely to be very general, historical and of little use.
Even if you find a source of information useful to you, it may be very time-consuming to collect. Software and outsourcing collection and specific projects will significantly reduce the time taken.
Secondary data sources include:
Market Research Portals
They rarely live up to the sales hype. But can answer simple questions like who are the key market players. And put your own organisation into context. Yet, we do often find that after the initial enthusiasm, access becomes limited. Or they do very little with the information. In some cases, the cost of the combined access would pay for a CI operation!
Press releases are published every day. In their thousands. Both written and online. But very few released actually become news.
By reviewing press releases, you can learn significant Competitor developments. Such as merger and acquisitions activity. Takeovers, management changes, new products, new financial offerings, earnings, restructures etc. What a press release does not say is sometimes just as important as the text itself.
Trademark activity could indicate your rivals future development activities. Or ownership issues, and foreign market strategies. You can also watch how litigious your rival is and how successful they have been in their actions.
This area of research is becoming an essential part of an organisations image. And organisations tend to have many domain names. To represent their products, associated companies, brands and divisions. So, monitoring can reveal future strategies and related new products. Look for evidence of cyber-squatting and bad faith.
Analysts gather actionable information on their industry.
You can source reports and information on your competitor’s revenue. Profit margins, growth, sales, expenses and earnings forecast. Market fluctuations and predictions. And you already have many excellent sources of primary information. Some of whom you talk to every day. Your employees are not only your greatest asset. They are also your most significant source of competitive information.
Also, they may have previous experience of working with your rivals. Or know people in other organisations and of course, have the day to day dealings with your customers. Those customers your opponents pursue. Without compromising any restrictive covenants, your employees may know their pricing. Or have a copy of your rival’s sales information. Look within your business to draw parallels. Among each department working on business development.
How to Manage Data
The information your business developers source during a networking event can be precious. But only if it is accessible in a useable format, analysed and acted on. This article discussed how to manage data within Competitive Intelligence.