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So, you have made the strategic decision to invest in competitive intelligence software! First of all, congratulations on taking your first step to a more efficient and effective CI function in your business.

Now comes the hard part. Deciding which competitive intelligence software is the right fit for you.

You might be asking yourself: “Is it really possible to get an unbiased comparison of competitive intelligence tools from a company that makes one of those tools?”

Let me be perfectly honest with you, we have no interest in spinning our wheels trying to convince someone to use our specific market or competitive intelligence software tool for whom it would not be the right fit. That would be a waste of our time and a waste of yours.

Instead, what I want to do is help you understand the specific situations in which different tools would be a good fit. This article seeks to provide an objective source of information about what your CI goals might be, and which tools would be the right fit for those goals.

The approach is simple. I will list the advantages and disadvantages of different CI tools, then allow you to form your own opinion about which makes sense for your situation.

Comparing Apples to Oranges

When choosing a competitive intelligence software tool, keep in mind that you will almost never be comparing apples to apples. You should instead look at it as comparing apples to oranges.

Different tools are meant to do different things, and each has their place depending upon your organization’s needs or goals. I don’t seek to pit these software tools against each other, but instead help you recognize which tool has what you need for your specific use case.

In fruit, apples aren’t inherently better or worse than oranges. Sometimes you are just looking for the vitamin C boost of an orange or the crunch of an apple. They serve different purposes. So too do CI tools.

Comparison Factors

In our experience with prospects and customers, there are often four very important factors that present themselves when making the decision on a market or competitive intelligence software product.

Don’t get me wrong, there are far more than just four factors to consider when making your choice, but for the purposes of this comparison I will focus on the four factors that usually rise to the top in terms of importance.

User Experience

Most organizations care deeply about the experience for individual users as it often affects adoption rates and the ultimate power of the tool internally.

Businesses are typically looking for a tool that is intuitive and easy to use. They are also looking for specific features that help users work more efficiently and effectively in their role and facilitate strategic decision making.

Data Collection, Tagging and Organization

Organizations also typically want to know, in deep detail, how the software can organize, tag and manage data. 

Each business has its own idea of what is important and how they’d like to use these features, but for the most part having software that uses automated tagging via Natural Language Processing vs. traditional manual taxonomies is very important.

This particular factor is incredibly important in helping to surface information that will help you beat your competition, rather than getting lost in a sea of information. A tool that will allow you to make the most of your service or product differentiation, increase sales, or stand out in your vertical or market will allow you to better position yourself against the competition and increase your market share.

Search Features and Functionality

Another important feature most companies want to understand in depth is how searches are conducted within the tool.

They are often looking for search functions aided by AI and machine learning algorithms to help them discover new information that they may not have thought to explicitly search for, and how the AI might learn information about their needs over time.

The combination of great data collection, tagging and taxonomy with a powerful search tool means you get to spend more time analyzing and less time researching. Having a tool that does the research for you, so you can focus on pulling insights out of the research multiplies your team's ability to deliver.

Collaboration Features and Functionality

Perhaps one of the most important factors organizations consider is how well the competitive intelligence software in question supports collaboration across the organization.

This includes how the tool can help physically disparate and large teams communicate and share information, the ability to layer analysis on top of data, and methods for visualizing and sharing that analysis with key stakeholders.

This factor also often includes looking at the Knowledge Management capabilities of a competitive intelligence software, as most tools focus solely on the CI function and do not include any knowledge management functionality.

Competitive Intelligence Software Comparison

  1. Knowledge360
  2. Crayon
  3. Klue
  4. Kompyte
  5. Comintelli

Below you will find high level information on each of the major tools we often see prospects comparing when making a decision on the best competitive intelligence software solution for their needs. 

This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list, but is meant to help with the most common comparisons we see.

Knowledge360

Cipher’s Knowledge360 Competitive Intelligence Software is built to help businesses monitor their market for disruption, assess their competitive landscapes, and collaborate across teams to leverage organizational knowledge.

Knowledge360 offers robust machine learning and AI capabilities both for search and automated tagging. It also offers a wide range of integrations to tools your company uses on a regular basis. Knowledge360 is a good fit for companies in highly regulated industries, including insurance, pharmaceuticals and life-science, healthcare, manufacturing and technology, as well as government contracting markets.

Looking at reviews for Knowledge360 on G2, you will see that reviews are spread across a variety of organization sizes.

The bottom line: Knowledge360 is a tool best suited for businesses with a dedicated competitive intelligence team in industries where strong regulations or high levels of competition are present.

Crayon

Crayon’s Competitive Intelligence Platform is a well-known competitive intelligence tool backed by the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technology.

Crayon’s website shows a strong focus on the platform’s ability to measure impact on sales with strong CRM integrations. It also highlights strongly the ability to “monitor a competitor’s complete digital footprint,” and allows you to catch changes on company websites or domains.

Looking at reviews for Crayon on G2, you will see that the platform has a good number of very positive reviews. The majority of those reviews come from organizations in the mid-market sector. G2 defines a mid-market organization as a company with 51–1,000 employees.

The bottom line: Crayon is a good fit for organizations with a strong focus on the sales aspect of their market and competitive intelligence platform, and a specific desire to track competitor websites, that live within the mid-market size range.

Klue

Klue is a competitive intelligence software tool that is meant to enable competitor research and support enterprise sales teams. They focus primarily on the B2B space.

Klue’s website focuses primarily on the platform’s ability to serve sales users and deliver sales-specific items like battlecards, boards and digests.

Looking at reviews for Klue on G2, the majority of those reviews come from organizations in the enterprise sector, which is no surprise given their niche focus on enterprise B2B companies. Users tend to call out things like “strong sales enablement support components with really solid content curation features,” as useful features.

The bottom line: Klue is a niche product that is built specifically for the needs of Enterprise B2B Sales teams, and is less focused on a general competitive intelligence function.

Kompyte

Kompyte is a tool specifically focused on competitor analysis that tracks your competitors and allows you to automate competitor research and reporting.

Kompyte’s website focuses on the tool’s ability to monitor competitor web presence, including things like their pricing and product information, search performance and digital marketing efforts. Testimonials from customers praise the tool’s ability to track “competitor moves — the time machine saves hours of manual research each month.”

Looking at reviews for Kompyte on G2, users focus their praise on the ability to compare digital marketing or social media efforts against their competitors.

The bottom line: Kompyte is a product purpose built for tracking your competitors’ digital marketing and social media presence and benchmarking your own digital marketing efforts against theirs.

Comintelli

Comintelli’s Intelligence2day platform is a tool that is meant to help provide insights for decision-making to marketing and CI teams.

Comintelli’s website focuses on how their Intelligence2day platform offers strong control over the definitions of manual taxonomies. Independent researchers note strong ability to control the content sources input into the system.

The bottom line: Intelligence2day is a good fit for companies looking to take a more manual or controlled approach to connecting content sources and managing taxonomies.

Competitive Intelligence Software vs. Build Your Own (BYO) Approach

We also regularly speak with prospects who are trying to decide if they should buy a competitive intelligence software tool, or if they should use a combination of existing tools (like SharePoint for instance) to build something similar.

This section is meant to help people understand the pros and cons of choosing the BYO approach, and when it might make sense to do so.

When making the decision between building or buying a software tool, the most important thing to keep in mind is the way your team’s time is being spent.

In our research, we’ve found that when taking a build it approach, your team will likely be spending only about 10% of their time actually conducting information analysis.

The remaining time will be spent finding information, managing and tagging that information, maintaining complex rules for structure, and working to make that structure consistent across everyone who interacts with tools used to hold data.

competitive-intelligence-software-time-savings

We’ve seen that when automating routine tasks with the right CI software, such as information collection and organization, your team will get to spend up to 45% more time on analysis. When CI teams spend more time analyzing, your business wins.

Ultimately when deciding on building a tool vs. buying CI software, there are quite a few factors to consider. But the best starting place is to consider the salaries of the team you will have managing that information and decide if a 45% improvement in the use of those salaries justifies the cost of CI software.

Competitive Intelligence Software with Additional Support

Another key factor that often accompanies the decision making process for competitive intelligence software is the support available outside of the software tool itself.

Many businesses find that, especially with market and competitive intelligence, that an external, unbiased viewpoint is necessary when building a competitive strategy. 

Additionally, they also find from time to time that extra support when using a new software tool can go a long way in ensuring that the tools are put to the best use.

There are a couple of different approaches we see companies take as they expand and improve their competitive intelligence function over time:

DIY: 100% Do It Yourself

Companies in this category typically are looking for a software tool and feel comfortable and confident in their team’s ability to learn, manage and use that software to the best of their ability with no additional support.

In our experience, this is rare, and only something you’d see from very mature competitive intelligence teams.

If you fit into this category, you wouldn’t necessarily need to look for competitive intelligence software providers that provide additional services.

DIWY: Do it With You

This is where most prospects and companies we talk to generally fit. They are often looking for a hybrid approach, where the use of additional services or expert support are brought in when needed (often early in the adoption of a new tool or annual setting of a competitive strategy).

In this case, it is incredibly important to look at the software providers you are considering and see what additional strategic services they may offer to help you in this area.

The most common services we see an interest in for organizations in this category are:

  • Due diligence: Services to help companies mitigate the risk of hiring new staff.
  • Competitive landscape: Services to help companies maximize their competitive edge by gaining clarity about where their competitors stand in the market and alter strategy as needed.
  • Strategy: Strategic planning advice with expertise in entering new markets, scenario planning, wargaming, and monitoring environments.

Knolwedge360 and Intelligence2day are both software tools created by market and competitive intelligence companies that have a services and consulting offering as well. Thinking about the specific services you need (or may need in the future), and then determining if the software provider you are considering has those capabilities is always a good idea.

DIFY: Do it For You

On the other end of the spectrum from DIY, this is also a relatively rare occurrence to find. Organizations in this category are truly looking for a fully outsourced competitive intelligence function.

If you fit here, you most likely want to determine who your outsourced partner would be before selecting a software tool (as they’ll want to be involved!).

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, your goal should just be to find the software tools that will meet your specific business needs and requirements, not to decide which tool is better than the other.

None of the different choices or tools listed above is better than the other, they are all just meant to serve unique purposes. Decide what strategic goals you have, and then it should be easy to narrow down which tools will best meet your needs.

To help you take the next step in selecting a competitive intelligence software tool, we have a couple of resources you may find helpful. First you can peruse our Buyer's Guide to learn more about the different components of competitive intelligence software.

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Or, if you are knee deep in vendor comparisons, you can use our Competitive Intelligence Software Vendor Evaluation Tool to help you compare different vendors against one another.

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