Using Competitor Intelligence to Further Your Growth Strategy
Recent survey data from Deloitte shows that 85 per cent of businesses have growth at the top of their priority lists at the moment, despite the economic difficulties of recent times. We all know that companies can grow either organically or through acquisition. Those that have the more aggressive growth strategies will lean towards the latter, as it is a surefire path to more extensive and faster growth. This article offers a basic understanding of using competitor intelligence to further your growth strategy
Gathering competitor intelligence is a vital preliminary step in pursuing any sort of growth strategy. That is especially so when you have specific acquisition targets in mind in either your own or related business sectors. Competitor information can help the decision-makers in an organisation to make the best-informed strategic business decisions that will help bring about their growth targets. We will look at three specific ways senior personnel, such as Chief Strategy Officers and Chief Marketing Officers, can use competitor intelligence to help their businesses to meet strategic goals.
Gaining a Better Understanding of the Market
There are so many ways in which the world is becoming a smaller and more interconnected place. At the same time, markets are evolving faster than ever, with shorter product life cycles demanding yet more technological innovation, which drives faster change. It’s a self-perpetuating and mostly virtuous circle, but falling behind is easier than ever. Competitor intelligence helps create a bigger picture of the overall market instead of the immediate part of it where the business sits, giving a superior “big picture” perspective.
Working closely with market research teams and analysts, leaders can get a clear picture of such metrics as market drivers, market share (theirs and competitors’), market threats and so on. This leads to a clearer picture of industry and consumer trends that could impact your business and those that might provide the best growth opportunities.
This kind of data allows business leaders to make quite bold insights for the long term, such as which parts of the market will have the highest potential for revenue generation in two or five or seven years’ time.
Tracking Both Existing and Emerging Competitors
Once you have this clear picture of the business ecosystem in which you operate, all sorts of new possibilities will swim into focus. Today’s competitors could be tomorrow’s acquisition targets, while today’s suppliers could be future business partners. It is important to understand these businesses in terms of who they are, what they do, especially if they are potential partners, and whether they have any skeletons in their closets.
Standard due diligence practices will pick up all the routine financial and commercial data. But long before that, some basic public records checks will help you establish whether or not this company you want to get close with.
Competitor information can also shine a light on competitors’ strategic objectives. This might include up or downstream integrations in the supply chain, entering new markets or forming new strategic partnerships. A clear picture of how your competitors are developing their business can be a useful yardstick against which to sense-check your own business strategy and growth plans.
As well as monitoring direct competitors, it is worth keeping track of businesses in related industries. Or those serving similar demographics. This does not have to be overly complex. Monitoring social media feeds. Attending industry networking events can reveal plenty of information if you know what you are looking for.
Preparing for the unknown unknowns
In 2002, Donald Rumsfeld made his now infamous “known unknowns” speech. It was one of the earliest video clips to go viral, and it caused plenty of laughs. Most companies understand competitive intelligence is all about keeping track of the known unknowns. But in recent years, there have been more instances than ever of unknown unknowns appearing from left field.
These can be risks, such as a global pandemic, or opportunities, such as the sudden explosive advances in AI. We owe it to ourselves to prepare for the “known-unknowns” and the “unknown-unknowns” to the extent possible.
Clearly, the latter involves a degree of “outside the box” thinking. Brainstorming sessions can help, but it is important that these involve participants from multiple functions. It’s precisely the same principle in play as when we analyse the market from different business perspectives. The idea is that a greater variety of future scenarios can be envisaged by taking a wider viewpoint. Here is another related article that may be of interest: Why Competitive Advantage is Key to Drive Your Business Growth.
Using Competitor Intelligence to Further Your Growth Strategy
In conclusion, competitor intelligence is a powerful tool for driving growth and ensuring long-term success. Businesses can develop more robust growth strategies. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of the market, tracking competitors and potential partners, and preparing for the unknown unknowns. Embracing competitor intelligence allows organisations to be proactive, agile, and better equipped to successfully navigate the ever-evolving business landscape. In an environment where change is constant, those who harness the power of competitor intelligence will be the ones who not only survive but thrive in the face of uncertainty.
Here is another related article which may be of interest:
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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.