What Could a Competitive Intelligence Project Look Like?

What Could a Competitive Intelligence Project Look Like?

This article offers our thoughts on what could a Competitive Intelligence project look like? Yet, most projects are very different from the last one, so this is very much a guide. 

Unlike spies in films, you rarely need to find just one thing. One code. One briefcase. We will always have many things to discover. But what does a Competitive Intelligence project look like?  Also, Competitive Intelligence is not spying. Everything we do is ethical and legal. 

The essential criteria are to spend a great deal of time planning for the exercise. Collect the information you are looking for (and not looking for!). Verify it, and the secret sauce – analysis and them tell people about your findings in good time. A Competitive Intelligence project can be broken down as follows.

Achieving buy-in

A great deal of work is undertaken at the start to determine what you really need to know and why. Getting buy-in before starting a project also stops wasting people time. When you find out there is no budget or enthusiasm for the project. The process does not have to involve many people. But it can help make your collection activities as useful as possible.

Selling Competitive Intelligence

Selling Competitive Intelligence is essential to ensure that Competitive Intelligence is conducted strategically. And, undertake a great deal of work at the start. To determine what you really need to know and why. Getting buy-in before starting a project also stops wasting people time. Like, when you find out, there is no budget or enthusiasm for the project.

The process does not have to involve many people. But, it can help make your collection activities as useful as possible. To overcome resistance and gain hearts and minds. Give all individuals, from managing director to the administrator, ownership of objectives. And creat actions relevant to their role. 

One person has to be made responsible for the day-to-day running of the project. Every job description should contain information gathering as a key requirement. This is one of the best bi-products of good Competitive Intelligence. Why?

  • Because seniority or job title is no barrier to participating. It acts as a fantastic team-building exercise.
  • It also helps to build a culture of competitiveness. Which can improve performance across the board.
  • Start with varied and interesting group sessions.
  • Designed to determine and develop CI awareness throughout your company.

Getting started with planning

Planning is essential. Even before you start Googling, it’s essential to understand what you need to do. Why do you need to do it? And, what decisions you want to make based on Intelligence? This will help determine where you are now. And, where you want to be by understanding your marketplace. Defining and measuring market information. Creating clear, as well as, relevant outcome-based Intelligence questions and much more.

Before starting collecting and analysing, you must be clear in what is it you are looking for. And to ultimately achieve? Be clear where your pain is. It will create focus and enhance your chances of success by defining the problem you wish to solve. So ask the following questions:

• Why do you need to know the Intelligence?

• How will you use the results? – Understand what current and future business decisions your firm wants to take

• Who will use the Intelligence?

• What information is relevant, who needs it and how will you monitor it?

During the planning phase, try and develop 2 or 3 questions you really need answering. And, incorporating the above using this model we have developed:

Define the Issue

  • Create a focused, practical key question(s) and statement. Then understand if all parties understand and agree? And, what & when do you need to know? Finally, 
  • How will you use the Info?
  • What do you already know?

Your competitive landscape changes all the time. Take time out to understand what you think you know is still valid.

  • Are your clients, prospects, market and suppliers the same?
  • What do you think of the market and the key players?
  • What’s your opinion on new rivals strengths and weaknesses?

Also, what about that new service your other competitor has just introduced? 

• Why is your service unique. How are you perceived in the market, and who are the best people in their business?

• Also, which competitor has disappeared?

• Finally, has the market and your clients changed? How?

The right questions

  • Firstly, what’s the problem?
  • Then, what’s the decision-maker trying to accomplish?
  • What’s their goal?
  • Who’s the decision-maker?
  • How can we limit uncertainty for the decision-maker?

Dig deeper by asking:

  • Where are you now?
  • Who will be involved?
  • What threats do you face?
  • What do you want to find out and by when?

Drivers

Drivers tell us, it’s more than just good questions.

You have some great questions, and you are researching and talking to people. You will be swamped with information on paper, Evernote, email and your cloud. 

Then the realisation hits you. Intelligence is so much more than researching Google really well. Lots of data and no idea where to start. It may sound simple, but the next step is to sort all the information into a limited number of piles.

Collection

You have decided you want to undertake some sort of CI activities and you have isolated what you want to know. Collecting information is where some choose to start a Competitive Intelligence project. But it will not end well for them.

Now you need to understand how to find it out. There are two sources of information: secondary (print) and primary (people).

Secondary sources. The first place you will look is probably the internet. But relying solely on the internet has many disadvantages. Including the obvious one. Most companies tend not to publish information that would be really valuable to you. You may find news on your rivals and industry, but it is likely to be very general, historical and of little use.

There are some excellent pieces of software on the market. But it would be a good start just to set up a specific email address. Directed to an individual responsible for the collation of the information.

But it’s not as simple as collecting all the information you have on your rivals. All you get is data (history), snowed under with minimal direction on what to do with it. Frustration will set in. And success will be measured by the amount of information you find. Not the Intelligence and subsequently actions you derive from it.

Analysis of the data

This the most important part of a Competitive Intelligence project. You may want to take part in Competitive Intelligence. And you have piles and piles of information about your competitors. 

It is a common problem. You have commenced research on your competitors. Revealing a significant amount of data. This is the hardest part of the process. You are busy collecting the data, but that is all it is – data. Data tells us what the company is doing. Intelligence tells you what your competitor intends to do.

Move onto wargaming and shadow marketing planning sessions. And build specific teams to watch particular competitors. Make sure it is simple for people to report information they have gathered to a central source. To create Intelligence, you need to analyse the data you have. It is likely not to be the full picture because you can not collect everything on the company after all. 

This article offered our thoughts on what does a Competitive Intelligence project look like? Yet, most projects are very different from the last one, so this is very much a guide. 

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