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If you’re in the process of selecting the right Competitive Intelligence (CI) software for your organization, you know there are many variables to consider. You’ll need to think through how easy the software will be to implement in your organization, the benefits the technology can offer your team, and the data sources you can leverage to generate insights. 

But another variable that’s an important consideration is the price of the software. For many organizations, this might even be the single most important variable. CI software isn’t inexpensive, especially for large organizations wishing to track the activities of many competitors. Monthly subscriptions can easily run in the thousands of dollars, and that’s not even accounting for installation and training costs. Many CI teams work with fixed budgets, and it can feel like an uphill battle to access the resources you need to get meaningful work done. 

Comparing the prices of different tools is important. But it’s not always easy. Many CI software vendors are not especially transparent with their pricing, and when you're evaluating multiple tools from different vendors, the last thing you want to do is get on a call with a sales rep just to learn their pricing. 

Complicating matters further are the various types of pricing models used by CI software vendors. All this means comparing prices won’t necessarily be an apples to apples task. There are many factors that contribute to the price you’ll ultimately pay, and with three primary pricing models, your cost comparison isn’t as simple as comparing solution 1 at $x/mo to solution 2 at $y/mo. 

Today, we’re breaking down how three pricing models used across our industry work. We’ll explore the cost drivers of each, share some of the platforms that use that pricing model, and help you understand exactly what these pricing models mean for your business. 

The three models we’ll evaluate are:

  1. Pricing based on the number of competitors tracked
  2. Pricing based on the number of users
  3. Hybrid models that combine both approaches

Let’s get started. 

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1. Account Based Pricing

One popular model adopted by many CI software platforms is to offer pricing based on the volume of coverage an organization needs. Under this pricing model, the price you pay is primarily driven by the number of companies (competitors) you want to track. 

If you’re setting up a new CI function, you probably have an idea of the number of competitors you’d like to monitor. Within your industry, you might have three to five direct competitors that you’re primarily concerned about. Selecting a small group of competitors will likely result in a relatively low monthly cost, with a clear understanding of your costs. 

But only focusing on a small set of competitors can significantly hinder the effectiveness of your CI function. Many times, disruption comes from the places you least expect it, and organizations don’t just compete against their direct competitors; they’re also in competition with indirect competitors and substitutes. 

This pricing model also doesn’t work particularly well for large enterprise organizations offering multiple products/services to a variety of markets. The result in this scenario is tracking a large number of competitors and topics. Companies in the pharmaceutical industry often monitor a wide variety of competitors. Our State of Competitive Intelligence Report for Q3 2021 found the average pharmaceutical company using Knowledge360 tracks 86 different companies. On a usage-based pricing model, tracking that many companies will get very expensive, very fast. 

Software vendors that favor per company pricing model determined by the number of competitors an organization wants to track may offer different pricing tiers. You can choose to class a competitor as a tier-one competitor, and receive more information on them, or a tier-two competitor and receive a  more basic level of data. On average, plan on paying around $5,000 to track a tier-one competitor, and significantly less to track a tier two company. 

2. User Based Pricing

Another common pricing model is the per seat, or per user model, which determines your cost based on the number of individuals within your organization who use the software. This is a common pricing model among many kinds of enterprise software solutions.

Perhaps because this pricing model is so common, it’s one of the easiest for customers to understand and implement. Pricing is transparent, grows with the usage of the software, and allows CI teams to easily increase or decrease the number of competitors and topics they monitor. 

However, there are challenges to this model that you should be aware of. For large organizations that want everyone to have access to competitive intelligence, it's often prohibitively expensive to provide licenses to everyone in the organization. Even in smaller organizations, it’s likely that there will be a lot of license sharing, where individual users share login details with others. This harms the user experience and also devalues the impact of the CI platform. 

Within per user pricing models, there are often different user account types. For example, “admin users” can typically create and modify global views, manage subscriptions, customize settings, and manage users. While “standard users” are more likely consumers of intelligence than contributors. These user types can view content that has been shared with them. 

When it comes to CI software, admin users are usually members of the CI team and will be working in the platform every day, analyzing data and building deliverables. End users could be anyone across the organization who logs into the platform to access insights from the CI team. Some vendors offer pricing based on the number of power users, and some offer pricing based on the number of end users. One example of this would be Klue. They don’t publicly disclose pricing, but we found this Medium article that reports their prices start around $1000 per user. 

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3. Hybrid Pricing Models

Some organizations offer hybrid pricing models, where pricing is based on a combination of the number and type of users and the number of competitors being monitored. A hybrid pricing model may offer different tiers to address the needs of different types of organizations, from startups to the largest Fortune 100 users. 

At Cipher, we believe a hybrid pricing model for our Knowledge360 platform allows customers more flexibility than either an account-based or user-based model.  CI teams using K360 can scale their use of our CI tool to meet a variety of needs of the business. If a new department or team needs to access key market trend insights based on recent market activity, additional user packs can be added. Similarly, when a new technology disrupts an industry and suddenly the number of companies you want to monitor expands, additional “company subscriptions” can be purchased. You can learn more about our pricing here. We believe this model is the right approach for the organizations that we work with for several reasons:

  • Large organizations aren’t penalized for democratizing access to CI.
  • A highly scalable solution fostering collaboration across your organization is established. 
  • Power users have the freedom and flexibility to track unlimited competitors and topics without their budget ballooning. 

4. Understanding the Best Pricing Model For Your Organization

While pricing is important, it shouldn't be the sole driver of your decision. As with anything in life, you get what you pay for, and it’s true that the most advanced CI platforms are also the most expensive. Focus on finding a solution that comes with the features your organization needs for success; not every CI platform will fit the bill. 

At Cipher, we’ve compiled a series of comparisons between a wide range of competitors and our own solution, Knowledge360. We encourage you to head over to our Learning Center to read them and learn more about the performance, capabilities, and pricing of each solution. 

If you’ve got more questions, or are interested in learning more about Knowledge360, you can set up a call with our team today.

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