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When a ship leaves port, there needs to be a destination mapped out, a voyage plan in place and contingencies to handle unforeseen obstacles along the way. As your company prepares to embark on a new journey in 2019, how will you ensure you are headed for success, no matter the obstacles? Competitive intelligence(CI) is a critical business function to ensure you outmaneuver competitors and anticipate market developments.

Here are three actions you can take now to implement a CI strategy that helps you stay ahead in 2019 and beyond.

1. Prioritize Strategy

As the possibilities (and challenges) of the new year appear on the horizon for your company, set aside the time and effort to collaborate and prioritize strategy development. It can be easy to get caught up in the end of year responsibilities, but neglecting to focus on the new year will have you playing catch up in January - and potentially set you back for the year. Creating a dynamic strategic plan for 2019 will ensure your company can remain agile, no matter the obstacles that arise.

So how do you make sure your strategy is dynamic enough to withstand changing tides? First, you need to identify your goals for the year. Where does your company vision dictate you should be this time next year? Then, ask your team what is in place to drive toward that goal, what needs to happen and what are potential obstacles that might arise? Outline these directives and house them somewhere your department can easily access.

As 2019 continues, a key factor that will indicate whether your strategy is static or dynamic will be the regularity with which you review it to see how you are tracking against your goals. Hold monthly meetings to track progress and refresh or adjust course if need be. This last piece is crucial to making sure you remain agile and are properly placed to outmaneuver your competitors. If you're not on the same playing field as the rest of your market, it will be even harder to catch up when you need to. Keep your finger on the pulse and dig deeper on anything that may indicate a larger shift.

Recommended Read: What is Competitive Intelligence?

2. Employ Greater Intelligence

Fuel your strategy by ensuring it is fully informed and organized. This requires greater dedication to intelligence and employing greater resources to focus on the developments both in your market and in the greater operating environment.

In order to outmaneuver and supersede your competitors in 2019, you need to keep up with and stay ahead of developments both within and adjacent to your industry. This requires greater intelligence capabilities. In an example scenario, an automotive company spends a percent of their budget and time focusing on direct competitor developments, but they also focus a large percent of time and effort on researching technological developments outside the automotive space. They realize that what is being developed now might have huge impacts or possibilities for their industry in the not-so-distant future. By investing in the time and resources needed for this research, they are prepared with the information they need to predict market trends and utilize new technology in their products before their competitors can seize those opportunities.

Watch Now! Competitive Intelligence Basics: Building Your CI Function

3. Invest in Software

The impact that technology has on the development of business in our modern marketplace is constantly evolving and growing. In order to outmaneuver your competitors, you need to have a grasp on how they are developing new technologies in their products and business. Likewise, your knowledge of available technology from greater research can help reveal opportunities for technological innovation — opportunities your competitors haven't caught onto.

Investing in your own intelligence software will help you lead the way with a comprehensive view of the technological and competitor landscape in your market and beyond. CI software can research and filter a wide breadth of information sources quickly and efficiently and monitor for important developments that require your attention. Using software to monitor the overall market will enable you to remain agile and act quickly on new competitor developments.

To recap, in order to outmaneuver your competitors in 2019, you need to prioritize strategy, intelligence and technological research. With these priorities in place, you can effectively observe, orient, decide and act in a way that will enable you to lead the way in your industry.

Download the Guide: Selecting the Right Competitive Intelligence Software Solution