The Competitive Intelligence Function is Set up But What Are The Next Steps?

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The Competitive Intelligence function is set up, but what are the next steps?

You have spent considerable time and money creating your Competitive Intelligence function. Then what? The Competitive Intelligence Function is set up, but what are the next steps? It may wither on the vine without constant work on your new operation. 

If you want your Competitive Intelligence function to thrive, you need to take the following steps: 

  1. Educate your team on what Competitive Intelligence is and how it can help them be more successful. 
  2. Make sure you are using the right tools and resources to gather competitive data. 
  3. Create a process for analysing and acting on competitive intelligence. 
  4. Communicate the value of Competitive Intelligence to senior management. 
  5. Train employees on how to use competitive intelligence to make better decisions.

But there is so much more to it. Hopefully, we can provide some guidance. The company itself has several steps that can be taken:

Create a Competitive Intelligence culture

Start by recognising that everyone in the organisation knows something about your company. And your competitors, customers, marketplace, and the broader industry in which you operate.

In a sense, you can view these as independent Competitive Intelligence agents. Still, they will generally operate in a silo without working with and guiding them. And eventually, they will never be asked to share anything. 

One way to overcome this issue is to create a regular forum. for your Competitive Intelligence “Agents” can meet. To discuss emerging issues, share experiences and knowledge. To solve problems and generally interact together.

Put together teams of disparate functions to identify wish lists. No matter how improbable for the company to accomplish. Publish results and distribute them to all in the company. Do this every three months, and revisit previous results with different groups. Above all, thank them publically for helping you out. Get your team away from their desks and speak to people on the coalface. 

Competitive Intelligence team structure

The goal of Competitive Intelligence is simple. To reduce uncertainty and produce actionable insight for decision-makers. You need to have that information on your competitors and markets to do this. So you need an information finder. A researcher to look into databases and Google and the other engines. And not to rule out printed publications and those items not available on Google and the open web. 

Then there is the primary researcher skilled in telephone and trade show elicitation. Finally, you need a skilled analyst. One that can analyse, collate, and interpret what the findings mean. Then write the report in an engaging and valuable, and usable manner.

What’s In? What’s Out?

But then there are other activities you can do. Create “What’s In? What’s Out?” lists at the beginning of every year. Come back to them from time to time. Discuss the implications for your company. Understand the opportunities that are there for you. And what threats you could face. 

It’s essential to be sceptical of conventional wisdom. After all, the business world is changing (and it is ever so quickly). How can conventional wisdom and assumption continue to hold true? What are the new opportunities you can find? Are there new customers who don’t fit your old and current profile? Are their customers who are going to be attracted to something new?

Maybe present to school children and university students about what you do. They will ask questions. Or suggest ideas with some golden nuggets of original, unbiased thinking. And their feedback could also simplify your marketing message.

Perhaps do the same with someone in a completely different industry. And in a sector you would never come across as a supplier or customer—a virgin to your business and sector. They make assumptions and ask questions that will trigger some excellent thinking. 

Also, vary how the insight is reported. From internal alerts to one-page overviews, briefings, battlecards and perhaps a newsletter format. Not a regular newsletter as people in your business will not read them. Sorry, but they won’t.

Your teams

Capturing the collective ideas of your own team to solve crucial strategic challenges. Take one of your own and one of your competitors’ products. Get your team to define each product. Ask these and other questions to challenge them and your view of the world:

  • What the product is
  • What’s wrong with it 
  • How can it be improved 
  • What’s right with the product
  • Why is their product better than yours

Then have you write a plan to address the challenges posed by the questions. Get them to suggest questions that need answering by your Competitive Intelligence team.


Getting your Competitive Intelligence team to listen to your customers is important. Use it as an opportunity to do something about complaints. Ignore customer complaints at your peril. You can engage with them to know what the problem is and how to fix what’s wrong with your product. And use it as an excuse to keep in touch with your customers and create a positive feeling. Or ignore them, learn nothing and allow them to disappear to your competitors. 

Win-loss analysis

Make your customers advocate for what you are doing. Perhaps create a more formal process by introducing a win-loss programme.

Win-loss analysis identifies why you win, why you lose, why customers churn, and why customers decide not to decide at all. Win-loss analysis improves sales, marketing, product development, and competitive strategy. The win-loss analysis is also referred to as win-loss, sales win-loss, win/loss or won lost analysis.


Creating an open Competitive Intelligence culture takes time to develop and nurture.

It’s essential to understand that new doesn’t always replace old. It may reduce in volume, but it’s unlikely to replace it.

A great analyst with the detail but can see the big picture. Has the ability to see patterns and assess what could be going on. The skill to put the information into context is not quickly learned. And it means going way beyond reporting just the facts. 

And it is so much more than creating a SWOT analysis matrix. The analyst should be natural at asking questions about the data. Questions around competitor activity. Asking why. Does it indicate a new direction or a broadening of its product line? Does new regulation offer new opportunities or challenges?

The analyst puts the information into a context that may or may not be accurate. The analysis identifies potential risks and allows a company to prepare a substantive response.

They also need to have the authority to ask awkward questions. They need the CEO’s ear so everyone appreciates the value of the unit’s input.

The same person can do the researcher and analyst roles if they have both skills. If so, and if the secondary research is outsourced, the company can start with a single person. Of course, an internal Intelligence unit will enjoy using an agency like us. Either on an Adhoc or more consistent basis. Asking the questions an internal team would struggle to answer. Or do not want to be seen to ask. 

The Competitive Intelligence function is set up, but what are the next steps?

In conclusion, once you have set up your Competitive Intelligence function, it is important to continue to nurture and grow it. This can be done by ensuring that the team has the resources it needs, regularly providing them with new information, and encouraging them to question and explore continually. By doing so, you can ensure that your Competitive Intelligence function becomes an essential part of your organization and helps you stay ahead of the competition.

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