This article asks how to use Competitive Intelligence. Competitive Intelligence can be utilised in a number of areas of your organisation, and even offered to your own customers. We can help you with one off projects or with retained intelligence work. Here are some suggestions to think about.
Business development and marketing
By answering questions such as how the demand for your services is currently being met and by whom, how satisfied buyers are with those services, how credible you are, and what criteria customers use to select a supplier, you could stand yourself in better stead for success (or the avoidance of a big mistake!).
Assist your business developers by preparing briefing packs for meetings and tender opportunities, varying, depending on the client or the opportunity, from a basic briefing report to in-depth and ongoing analysis on the company and also, individuals.
People in your company may already know a lot of this information, but if you do not actively and strategically collect it, it will stay locked away in people’s heads.
How can you use Competitive Intelligence? You might think no one could have foreseen the rise of Apple, the driverless car. But, some did; and yes, they have Competitive Intelligence functions.
And by narrowing potential outcomes and building plans for them now, you can be better prepared for the impact on future business.
Now, CI allows you to future-proof themselves not only by isolating their vulnerabilities and knowing what’s ahead, but also, and more importantly, create a great place to encourage creative and innovative thinking.
Questions to consider
So, these are the basic questions you should consider:
- What will the future of your industry look like in five to 10 years? Who will be the key players and influencers?
- Which industry could offer a substitute service?What actions / positions, taken now, would increase your chances of success in the majority of these scenarios?
- And, what early warning signs would be apparent when / if each of these possible futures were coming to pass?
- What other actions / positions should you take as soon as possible if it looks like one of these scenarios is coming true?
Mergers & acquisitions
CI may not prevent a merger between your rivals from taking place, but it might help you to know about it beforehand, so you can determine what to do about it, with a focused and prepared mind.
Use Competitive Intelligence to assist you (and your customers) in making decisions about your own potential acquisition candidates and investment opportunities, by providing a framework for identifying, assessing and understanding potential problems, strategic and cultural fit across the associated companies, potential predators or rival bidders, and the regulatory climate.
To attract the best investors, talent and customers, companies must look beyond mere compliance with international anti-corruption and money laundering legislation. With environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) increasingly in the spotlight, acting responsibly requires access to ethical, independent and objective intelligence.
As is competitors who are undercutting you and taking your business. Are they exposed to governance, ethical and legislative and getting away with it? In our experience, many are. Use Competitive Intelligence and ourselves to route them out.
More than just a quick Google search
It is not just a database search, and off you go happy, we try to understand the behavioural characteristics of individual decision-makers. Most cases, particular character idiosyncrasies do leave a footprint.
We go beyond box-ticking and spreadsheet diligence. High-quality research backed up with access to local databases, leaks and can offer boots on the ground investigations and site visits.
Analysing your competitors state of play within the following (and many more) criteria will highlight their strength, how they do business and isolate any vulnerabilities.
- A knowledge of adherence to statutory disciplines
- A list of Shareholders and Directors
- Knowledge of industry adherence to standards
- Membership of trade associations
- Members of the Board who are allied to other companies and government and trade bodies
- Evidence of corporate social responsibility
- Are they any actions taken or pending against the company
- Representatives organisations of your competitor, e.g. trade unions
- Assessment of your competitor’s attitude to risk
- Perhaps, management consultancy firms, advertising agencies, investment banks and other advisors used by the competitors
- And, specific industry benchmark ratios
Then there is the financial information like:
- Public domain financial reports for the last four years
- Published annual reports
- Economic reports from financial risk assessment agencies
- Professional Balance Sheet review
- A professional Profit and Loss review
- Statistical analysis of turnover, growth and profitability
- Historical and current funding analysis
- Summary of shareholders and changes in shareholding
- Evaluation of long-term liabilities, financial charges, debentures and mortgages
- Review of the financial management of the business
- Analysis of liquidity, gearing and financial stress points
- Indications of trading profitability
- Historical and current overhead review
- Details of mergers, acquisitions or business associations
- Key employee remuneration
- Dividends paid and dividend policy
- Current economic performance over recent years
- Indications of company valuation
New product, service or regional office
If you are thinking about expanding into geographical market or a new business arena to choose, or introducing a new service or product, CI can help you to understand and anticipate the moves of your rivals
And also the key individuals in those new market segments or areas and, most importantly, the impact such moves may have on your current and future client base.
Appointment of a new team member
Why wait until the interview to find the best candidate?
You could improve your recruitment strategies by monitoring who the best practitioners are, where they are, and what it may take to get them in your team.
How can you use Competitive Intelligence? To reduce the possibility of expensive mistakes, build your strategic direction, marketing plans and specific projects upon a foundation of decisions based on intelligence, and, not rumours or guesswork.
By narrowing potential outcomes and building plans, you can be better prepared for the impact on future business by using Competitive Intelligence.
Intelligence allows you to future-proof yourself not only by isolating your vulnerabilities and knowing what’s ahead, but also, and more importantly, create a great place to encourage creative and innovative thinking.
These are the basic questions you should consider:
- What will the future of your industry look like in five to 10 years?
- Then. who will be the key players and influencers?
- Also, which industry could offer a substitute service?
What actions / positions, taken now, would increase your chances of success in the majority of these scenarios? And what early warning signs would be apparent when / if each of these possible futures were coming to pass? What other actions / positions should you take as soon as possible if it looks like one of these scenarios is coming true?
During business planning it would be wise to work with your suppliers, sales team, operational staff and current clients you need to find answers to questions like:
- What is the company doing so well?
- And, what are they doing so right?
- What are their sales targets?
- What are their pricing policies?
- Also, what does their contract look like?
- Who are their customers and are they happy with the service they receive?
- How are you going to use it?
This article asked how to use Competitive Intelligence. Once you have gained a picture of your competitive environment, you then need to decide how to use it. You can enhance your efforts by prospecting your competitor’s customers. You will have more success as you will be able to manage your competitor’s strengths and exploit their weaknesses.