What Is Competitive Intelligence and Why Is It Important?  

This is an image of a U2 spy plane for an article called What Is Competitive Intelligence and Why Is It Important by octopus competitive intelligence company

What Is Competitive Intelligence and Why Is It Important?  

Are we ready for another article on what is competitive intelligence and why is it important? Including the foundational aspects of CI in marketing. Well, your wish is our command. Here you go.

This article delves into the significance of Competitive Intelligence in the corporate landscape, exploring its critical role in decision-making, strategic planning, and risk mitigation. Understand the distinct benefits of leveraging Competitive Intelligence and how it serves as a catalyst for organisational growth and competitive advantage

So, competitive intelligence is the systematic and ethical process of: 

  • Collecting
  • Evaluating
  • Interpreting information 

Collecting, collecting, evaluating and interpreting information about your:

  • Competitors
  • Competitive environment 
  • Broader market landscape

The goal of competitive intelligence is to gather insights and information to assist you:

  • Minimise the time spent discussing crucial decisions
  • Making informed decisions
  • Developing effective strategies
  • Gaining a competitive advantage

Competitive intelligence defined

Octopus Intelligence has defined it as follows:

Competitive intelligence finds & critically analyses information to make sense of what’s happening. & most importantly, why? Predict what will happen & give the options to control the outcome. Insight that creates more certainty & competitive advantage.

Competitive intelligence study provides strategic decision-making based on well-informed suggestions. It removes decision-making authority from the highest-paid employee in the company. The one who dominates thoughts. It eliminates confusion and guesswork. 

Objectives of Competitive Intelligence:  

  • Market Analysis: Competitive intelligence examines the larger market landscape. This can include industry trends, customer preferences, technical improvements, and regulatory changes. This study assists firms in adapting to market shifts and identifying new opportunities. 
  • Strategic Decision-Making: Competitive intelligence delivers valuable insights that help with strategic decision-making. Across a wide range of your business operations. Including marketing, sales, product development, and overall corporate strategy. 
  • Long-Term Sustainability: You’ll maintain a competitive edge and prosper in any business climate. But only if you regularly monitor and assess the competitive landscape. 
  • Risk Management: Competitive intelligence anticipates potential competitive and market risks and challenges. This allows businesses to make contingency plans and respond to unexpected events effectively. 

Process of Competitive Intelligence 

The process of competitive intelligence involves several steps. 


  • What do you need to know to solve a problem?
  • What’s the problem? 
  • What’s the decision-maker trying to accomplish? What’s the goal?
  • Who is the decision maker?
  • How can we limit the decision-maker’s uncertainty

Define and ask the right questions.

  • Avoid a yes/no question
  • Would a non-expert understand the question?
  • Summarise the question in one sentence of no more than three lines. Ideally, with only one dependent clause
  • Make sure the question is inclusive. Wide enough to cover what we need to cover. Narrow enough to provide a useful answer.
  • Does the question meet the decision maker’s needs? 
  • We have many example questions here for you:

Example competitive intelligence questions and here:

Collecting information

Gathering relevant information from many sources, such as: 

  • Public records
  • Competitor websites 
  • Industry magazines
  • Social media
  • Consumer feedback 
  • Market research papers

Then talk to people and get to know what they think. Talk to more people and build up a bigger picture. Where to find the information and who to talk to depends on the questions above. Usually, but not always, the collecting of information surrounds: 

  • Competitors’ products, services
  • Pricing 
  • Market share
  • Financial performance
  • Marketing efforts 
  • Overall business strategy
  • Product performance
  • Product development
  • Why they win
  • And why did you lose

Analysis of collected information

You have found the information. Now it’s time to get it sorted and analysed to uncover patterns, trends, and critical insights. This is where information becomes data. Sort the information, and you create data. Then use analytical techniques and methodologies to evaluate the data and extract insights. Insights that answer the questions you have already defined. 

Interpreting the information

The analysed data is then interpreted based on their SWOTs. This clarifies how competition can affect your performance and how you can respond. 

As you know, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A strategic tool to assess your current position and evaluate potential future strategies. SWOT analysis involves identifying internal factors such as strengths and weaknesses. The elements within your control. And external factors like opportunities and threats. Which are influenced by the external environment. And examining these factors, you gain valuable insights into your:

  • Competitive advantages
  • Areas that need improvement
  • Potential avenues for growth
  • Challenges that may impact their success

SWOT analysis is a foundation for decision-making. Helping you capitalise on their strengths and address weaknesses. Exploit opportunities, and mitigate threats. So you can achieve objectives and maintain a competitive edge.

It’s also often done wrong and is seen as just a list. So it’s considered boring and not worth the effort. 

Making Strategic Decisions

Insights should be used to make informed decision-making across the firm. From marketing to sales. Product development to senior management. Logistics to human resources. Yes, even HR can use competitive intelligence. It assists in creating your action plans and the establishment of clear objectives. 

Ethical Considerations

Competitive intelligence should always be handled ethically and legally. Avoiding industrial espionage. Best not to get into hacking Or hanging off skyscrapers, rummaging through bins and bugging board rooms. Honey traps and other forms of blackmail are also out too. Keep your second-hand U2 spy plane in the hangar for now. Sorry about that. We just leave that to our governments 🙂 Argh, that’s where there’s a picture of a U2 landing somewhere.

Another article

Competitive intelligence gives vital information on competitors’ marketing strategies, pricing, and sales approaches. Assisting you in refining marketing and sales strategies to attract and hold customers. Using competitive intelligence helps you remain ahead of the: 

  • Industry trends, 
  • Technological advances
  • Regulatory changes. 

This understanding is essential for adapting corporate practices in order to stay competitive. Furthermore, competitive intelligence enables organisations to more efficiently and effectively deploy their resources. It helps determine where to invest for the best returns and where cost-cutting is needed. 

Unravelling the Foundational Aspects of CI in Marketing

Understanding the foundational aspects of Competitive Intelligence (CI) is crucial in today’s marketing landscape. CI goes beyond traditional data analysis, offering deeper insights into competitor strategies and market opportunities.

Core Elements of CI in Marketing Strategy:

  1. Competitive Landscape Analysis: A comprehensive view of your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, and strategies.
  2. Informed Strategic Decisions: Utilising CI to guide marketing strategy and positioning.
  3. Proactive Approach: Staying ahead of market trends and potential disruptions through ongoing CI efforts.

What Is Competitive Intelligence and Why Is It Important? 

Competitive intelligence is essential when striving to succeed in a competitive market. It gives the knowledge and insights to make sound decisions and react to changes. And then capitalise on opportunities, and stay ahead of the competition. Businesses that lack competitive intelligence struggle to negotiate the complexities of the marketplace. They are missing out on crucial possibilities for development and progress. 

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What is competitive intelligence?

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.

This is a drawing of the Octopus Intelligence Logo By Octopus Competitive Intelligence, Due Diligence, Competitor Analysls, Market Analysis, Competitor Research and Strategic Business Development to beat your competitors, increase sales and reduce risk

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