Is Competitive Enablement Just a Hot Air Term to Sell Competitive Intelligence?

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Is competitive enablement just a hot air term to sell competitive intelligence seats?

Just when the business world is getting to grips with the power of competitive intelligence, they go and do it. They thrust a new phrase on us. An interesting phase to confuse the world again. And to sell more platform seats. The term in question? Well, that’s competitive enablement. So Is competitive enablement just hot air term to sell competitive intelligence seats? Or does it create value?

But what is competitive enablement?

Newly funded companies like Klue and Crayon offer excellent battle card platforms. And some tell us there’s a new way to compete. A new way to win. To find how others have moved on from the old, noisy approach and taken their game to the next level. It’s called competitive enablement.

That all sounds lovely

That all sounds lovely.

Competitive enablement is when a company uses its resources to become more competitive. This can be done through things like improving operations and developing new offerings. And by entering new markets. 

But competitive intelligence, on the other hand, is gathering and analysing information. And not just about the competition to understand their strategies and weaknesses. But also the market you compete in.

Put simply, competitive enablement is what you do with competitive intelligence.

Now, the competitive enablement definition is correct. And we really do get it. But only if the most common thing occurs during a competitive intelligence project.

What’s the most common thing with a competitive intelligence project?

Now you may ask: What’s the most common thing with a competitive intelligence project?

It is, of course, when competitive intelligence is done wrong. When it’s confused with market research or glorified Google alerts. When someone has collected as much information as possible on one or two competitors. Then put this information into nice graphs and slides to make it look pretty. We fail to see what knowing your competitor’s HQ address has to do with any competitive advantage. 

Little analysis and lack of options

Little if any analysis is undertaken. Unless you count listing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. 

What’s one of the most common missed opportunity within competitive intelligence reports? The lack of objective analysis. From this analysis, proposed well-thought-out options are defined. 

Once a decision-maker is presented with the insight and the options open to them. The decision-maker needs to do one thing. Decide what to do. Then instruct their teams to take action. This is what we think competitive enablement is. In other words, competitive intelligence done properly:

  • Planning
  • Complete primary and secondary research
  • Analysis and synthesis – And yes, data analysis
  • Options defined
  • Report
  • Action taken
  • Feedback

Our view is that competitive intelligence is, by definition, a complete solution. The process and, more importantly, the end product should be simple to understand. Clear, focused and aligned to the best expectations of the recipient. 

When to add to competitive intelligence

As such, any “add on’s” like competitive enablement needs to fall into one of these two categories:

  • Already either be in there because they are needed
  • Not in there if they are not necessary

Therefore any derivative sub-definitions are either selling what should already be included. Or they are to do with other areas outside of competitive intelligence. 

But, if the latter is the case, then there could be grounds for further discussion. However, we can’t think of where such a concept is needed beyond the CI function or provision. And the proven business areas already in operations, marketing, commercial, business development etc. 

Is competitive enablement just a hot air term to sell competitive intelligence seats?

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we propose that we don’t need competitive enablement as it already part of the competitive intelligence arsenal. Competitive intelligence is about creating and communicating an effective strategy and taking action. But we would be delighted to be proved wrong.

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