What is Competitive Intelligence in The Real World?

This post asks what is Competitive Intelligence in the real world? It offers an eight step process to understand how to do Competitive Intelligence.

Here at Octopus Intelligence, we have many philosophies. And one of the most important of these is our insistence on keeping it as simple as possible.

From our messaging to our processes. To the final report and suggested actions it’s important to keep it simple. There are many complications surrounding the Competitive Intelligence industry. This is necessary as experts in the Intelligence field need to push forward fresh thinking and innovation. Unfortunately, this situation doesn’t help the Middle Market and SME players. Many don’t understand what competitive Intelligence is and how it can help them.

Competitive Intelligence in the real world?

We have spent years trying to boil down everything we do. These eight points help understand what Competitive Intelligence is in the real world.

1. You have a problem

Business is all about solving problems. It is imperative to drill down a strategic problem to its base layer. To isolate the real problem and then define it. Define it into an easy to understand statement. What is Competitive Intelligence in the real world? It’s about problem solving and creating certainty.

2. Turn your problem into questions

The best way to get great answers to your problems is to ask fantastic questions. The questions that will get near to your centre target of certainty. And that’s the aim of Competitive Intelligence. To bring certainty to decision making and subsequent actions.

3. Do what it takes to find the answers

Once you have great questions to answer, a plan is put together to find the answers. Define who will know the answers and where can we find the information to answer the questions. Great questions make finding the right answers so much easier. So enable your research to be done with sniper precision rather than carpet bombing.

4. Isolate for patterns with critical analysis

So now you have a lot of information. You can then strip it down to its core components and collate the information into baskets. Build the information back up, sort it, twist it, mess it up, and strip back down again. Look for patterns, join the dots, look for the none dots. Look for the dots pretending to be dots. Fire the information into analytical models. Models like SWOT, STEP, ACH, Porters, Force Field and many more. But don’t use analytical models for the sake of it. It’s not an MBA dissertation; it’s real life.

5. Look for certainty

Take a look at the newly created Intelligence and try and find as much certainty as possible. Jangle the information around and ask questions like, so what? And Why is that? And what does it mean? Once you seem to have some certainty, work backwards and try and disprove it. Look for mistakes and look for biases in your thinking. Are you looking at a situation you want to believe to be true? Or is it actually true? You need to take your ego and experience out of the equation and look at the Intelligence dispassionately. This is why the decision-maker shouldn’t get involved in collating Intelligence. This is why companies to us.

Also, you need to be able to justify why you came up with this Intelligence. If you can’t, you will look daft in front of a decision-maker.

6. Predict what’s happening and offer options

Now you have the Intelligence. Did we mention that Intelligence should be forward-looking? You will be swamped with data that is telling you what has happened. Intelligence needs to say to you what is happening and what’s going to happen. An Intelligence officer’s career will not last long if look backwards. They tell a brigade that enemy troops are over that hill. Only to find after attacking there are not. “Well the data told me there where there 2 months ago? So I’m not sure what went wrong?”

If you have a good idea of what’s going to happen. And where it’s happening and when you have a greater chance of developing your options. Intelligence needs to offer alternatives. It’s the decision-makers prerogative to accept or reject them.

Every key finding and every prediction needs to be measured. From definitely going to happen, to probably, and possible to could. Define these phrases to avoid confusion.

7. To control the outcome

You know what’s probably going on. You have options available to you. You now know how to control the outcome of the situation. Define what you need to do to control the outcome.

8. Keep an unbiased eye on things

You know what’s going on, but this can change by the hour. So make sure you are monitoring the situation to understand that what you know is true is still valid. Define what and who you want to watch. Make a note of changes and patterns. Perhaps even agree on a course of action if a specific thing changes. Or a competitor does something you do something preprepared.

What is Competitive Intelligence in the real world?

This post asked what is Competitive Intelligence in the real world? It offered an eight step process to understand how to do Competitive Intelligence.

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