Competitive Intelligence - What is it? Why do you need it?
Oct 17, 2017
... is an essential component to developing a business strategy, better defined as the act of defining, gathering, analyzing and distributing information (intelligence) about products, consumers, competitors, and any aspect of the environment needed to support business management in their strategic decision making for their organization.
Competitive intelligence activities can be basically grouped into two main types: Tactical, which is shorter-term and seeks to provide input into issues such as capturing market share or increasing revenues; and Strategic, which focuses on longer-term issues such as key risks and opportunities facing the enterprise. Competitive intelligence is different from corporate or industrial espionage, which use illegal and unethical methods to gain an unfair competitive advantage.
What does an effective Competitive Intelligence Program do for a business?
- It enables businesses to incorporate external competitive and market forces into strategic planning.
- It helps businesses generate strategically relevant insights from research and structured analysis.
- It helps businesses enhance their marketing, strategic planning, finance, and operations.
- It helps businesses conform to antitrust and trade secret laws, legal and ethical best practices and their client's corporate code of behavior.
- It helps businesses shape counter-competitive strategies against one or more competitors.
- It helps businesses benchmark themselves against other organizations.
- It minimizes decision risk and reduces uncertainty about external developments.
- It helps businesses anticipate and plan for future market opportunities and disruptions.
- It provides insight into marketplace dynamics and challenges in a structured, disciplined, and ethical manner using published and non-published sources.
- It helps businesses assess the effectiveness of competitors' market positioning and product messaging.
For all of these reasons, especially in today's disruptive, fast moving environment, organizations should be increasing their commitments and expenditures in the area of competitive intelligence. You not only want to know what your competitors are doing and saying, but you also want to know what consumers are doing and saying. Many retailers would be in a lot better shape today if they had invested the resources in competitive intelligence to see the coming eCommerce changes and the rise of Amazon. The same disruption is taking place in other sectors today, and businesses in those sectors need to make the commitment to stay on top of competitors and how consumers are behaving in those sectors.
Dudley Stevenson, founder and CEO of DWS Associates, has over thirty-five years’ experience in consumer marketing, business-to-business marketing, and direct marketing, including developing, planning, and implementing go-to-market strategies. He's also the author of "Marketing Direct: Breaking Through The Clutter." Working with organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies, he and his team have helped clients such as IBM, Sony, Neiman Marcus, Arizona Highways, Marshall Field & Co., Mrs. Field’s, UNICEF, and Patagonia implement successful direct marketing programs. A longtime member of the Direct Marketing Association and the American Marketing Association, Stevenson is also a sought-after speaker. He’s given hundreds of presentations and workshops on marketing and direct marketing. His “Marketing Planning 101” workshop alone has reached more than 100,000 marketing and sales professionals.