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Welcome to our Competitive Intelligence Software Comparison series! We are regularly asked by prospects and clients to help them compare different competitive intelligence software tools. So we decided to dedicate a series of articles to this very subject.

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As evaluators work through their decision-making process, we often see that the decision becomes less about comparing tools against each other, and more about really working to understand what they need from the tool itself.

We have found that we end up becoming more of “CI Software Therapists” than salespeople during this process. Hence, this series!

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 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.

So, ultimately what we end up doing during this process for prospects is working to understand what their requirements are from the tool they need, and helping them determine which tool might fit the bill (be it ours or someone else’s).

In this endeavor, we seek to be as honest as possible, as lying or portraying our tool to have features that it does not actually have only results in customer churn down the line (something none of us wants to see).

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 its 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 do CI tools.

Comparison Factors

If you’ve read our high-level comparison article in this series, you already know about the four major comparison factors that we tend to get questions about from prospects and customers.

In our experience, there are often four very important factors that present themselves when making the decision on a 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.

Summarized briefly here, they are:

  • User Experience: Organizations are typically looking for a tool that is intuitive and easy to use.
  • Data Collection, Tagging, and Organization: Usually having software that uses automated tagging via Natural Language Processing vs. traditional manual taxonomies is very important.
  • Search Features and Functionality: Most are 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.
  • 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 and provides Knowledge Management capabilities.

In order to help, we will frame the comparison of the two tools below using these four primary categories.

Unfortunately, across these detailed comparison factors it is difficult to build a direct comparison for you as Sharpr doesn’t have many third party reviews available on sites like G2 or Capterra. What we will do is identify items they mention and share on their website inviting you to learn more.

Knowledge Management Tools vs. Competitive Analysis Tools

One very important distinction within the massive tool space around competitive intelligence or competitor analysis tools are the differences between knowledge management tools and competitive intelligence tools.

Sometimes these two categories of tools overlap. Having features of a knowledge management tool within your competitive intelligence and analysis tools is incredibly important (and exactly why it is one of the primary comparison factors listed above).

The real difference to consider in this case is if you need a general knowledge management tool or if you need a competitive intelligence tool with knowledge management features.

Why this distinction? It is really a factor of how much control you need or effort you are willing to invest to “manage” the usage of the tool, the way you want. More general knowledge management tools tend to require manual effort to shape into a competitive intelligence workflow.

In this comparison your choice is between a custom build-your-own style of competitive intelligence tool versus a purpose-built competitive intelligence platform. There are benefits and drawbacks to each approach, it is really about what is right for your needs and situations.

Sharpr vs. Knowledge360: Who it is for.

Before jumping into a feature by feature comparisons, it is important to understand who each of these tools is built for. 

Looking at how each software company has chosen to categorize their own tools and how they describe themselves is a great starting point. All information captured below is up to date as of this writing.

On G2, Knowledge360 is categorized in both the Market Intelligence and Competitive Intelligence Tools categories.

On G2, Sharpr is categorized only in the Market Intelligence Tools category.

Per their website, Sharpr connects “research done by your team or by external vendors, articles, documents, videos.”

Taking a look briefly at the fundamental differences between market intelligence and competitive intelligence, we can understand some of the key differences between the two types of software. 

The gathering and analysis of market intelligence data are focused on looking at a larger market and understanding trends and consumer behavior within that market. This type of research and activity is primarily consumer-focused.

In contrast, the gathering and analysis of competitive intelligence data are focused on understanding the activity of key competitors and what they are doing in their business. This type of research and activity is primarily business-focused.

The Bottom Line: Sharpr is focused on providing a knowledge management system for market intelligence data, helping organizations gather and analyze market data while Knowledge360 looks to support both the collection of market data and specific competitor data to fuel competitive strategy.

Sharpr vs. Knowledge360: 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.

Organizations 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 decision making.

Looking at reviews on external review sites for Knowledge360, we can see that users do believe it is differentiated in the area of Ease of Use.

 

Knowledge360 User Experience Quotes:

“Easy to set-up with built-in widgets and templates.” - Competitive Intelligence & Marketing Operations in Medical Devices with 1001-5000 employees on Capterra

“Once the system is set up, much of the work is automated.” - Information Technology and Services user with 201-500 employees on Capterra

“K360 is supported by an excellent customer service team.” - User in Market Research on G2

“Easy to navigate and customize.” - User in Computer Software on G2

“GUI interface / easy design makes it easy to build.” - Administrator in Electrical/Electronic Manufacturing on G2

Based on the information on Sharpr’s website, we can see plenty of evidence that they have thought about user experience, and the testimonials they show on the website do call out user experience as a positive.


The Bottom Line: Based on available information and quotes, it would appear that both Knowledge360 and Sharpr offer a simple, intuitive user experience backed by a helpful and available support team.

Sharpr vs. Knowledge360: Data Collection, Tagging, and Organization

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

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

Automated Tagging

Sharpr’s website does regularly mention the AI they use for both searching and auto-tagging.

Knowledge360 employs similar technologies including:

In addition, reviews for Knowledge360 often specifically call out the benefits garnered from AI usage:

“The ease with which I can find, tag, and store relevant information is irreplaceable.” - Administrator in Insurance at an Enterprise organization on G2

Data Sources

As mentioned above, the type of data sources is the key difference between the two tools. Sharpr bills itself as a knowledge management platform for market intelligence data that allows you to pull in your chosen data sources, while Knowledge360 is a tool that comes with quite a few data sources out of the box and compiles data across a multitude of competitor sources.

For Knowledge360, Cipher has partnered with premium data providers to allow users to discover, organize, and analyze competitive information from multiple sources in one place and reduce the overall spend on data and tools by up to half.  

Knowledge360 comes out-of-the-box with 80% - 85% of the data professionals need

to do their job effectively. It is also easy to add additional industry-specific data feeds through a simple RSS feed manager process.

Knowledge360® comes pre-populated with premium, timely, and accurate data covering over four million public and private organizations already integrated.  Knowledge360® offers pre-loaded data aggregated from sources including:

  • FACTSET
  • Crunchbase
  • SEC Filings (EDGAR Database)
  • Job Boards (Indeed)
  • Company Reviews (Glassdoor)
  • Live stock ticker feeds
  • Food and Drug Administration Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS)
  • National Institutes of Health (clinicaltrails.gov)
  • US Patent and Trademark Office
  • Aggregated News from over 600,000 global sources
  • Customized RSS feeds and Google Alerts

The Bottom Line: Both tools have automated tagging and AI features, however, Knowledge360 is built to have the data sources you need for a CI team out of the box. Sharpr is more of a “build it yourself” tool that allows you to choose the market intelligence data sources you want into a knowledge management system.

Sharpr vs. Knowledge360: Search Features and Functionality

Another important feature most organizations 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.

Sharpr

This particular aspect is where Sharpr’s website focuses as one of the most strong differentiators of the tool. Additionally, reviews on almost all of the testimonials they show on the site call out the powerful search features as one of the primary benefits.

This is absolutely a category on which Sharpr stands out.

Knowledge360®

Knowledge360® is a powerful search tool in itself. Innovative semantic search technologies, combined with our unique entity-based architecture, allows users to find exactly what they are looking for quickly as well as to discover hidden relationships within their data.  

Knowledge360®‘s advanced search features engage a semantic search function using Cipher’s own proprietary algorithms to identify and search against metadata on both internal and external data and information.  The advanced features also enable the user to perform advanced Boolean searches as well as drill down on trends through layers of filters pre-loaded into the system, further expediting their information sorting and refinement process.

Knowledge360® supports the collection and indexing of both internal and external structured and unstructured data from sources including, but not limited to, the web, subscription databases, external reports, and internal information sources, including the latest customer and competitor reports and analysis, allowing for advanced searching, filtering and quick retrieval of information whilst providing a central archive for commercial material.


The Bottom Line: Both tools offer very powerful and easy to use search functionalities fueled by AI and machine learning algorithms.

Sharpr vs. Knowledge360: 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.

Sharpr

This particular aspect is really what Sharpr’s tool is built on. They actually message themselves as a knowledge management platform above all else.

Knowledge360®

The knowledge management and collaboration capabilities within Knowledge360® allow users to better interact between regions and functions, providing increased information-sharing capabilities, maximizing the overall value for the business.  

Collaboration capabilities are pre-built into the system and include functionalities such as commenting on reports and data and emailing information (such as meeting notes, documents, news, etc.) directly to and from the system. 

Dashboard - News, Exhibitors & Field Intelligence

(click to enlarge)

Customer reviews often call out specific collaboration capabilities as one of the primary benefits of the software.

“It is very easy to structure topic dashboards and company views so anyone on your team can view. It makes it really collaborative!” - Executive Sponsor in Management Consulting at a Mid-Market organization on G2

“We have adopted as an internal Web publishing platform to allow departments to communicate and share their information with the entire company.” - Director International Marketing Research & Intelligence at an Enterprise organization on G2

Additionally, Knowledge360® allows the user to create custom user roles to control the specific level of access for each user or group of users. Those holding an Administrator Role are able to build, edit, and assign user roles, ensuring the protection of sensitive data by creating access restrictions at the user level.

Out of the box, Knowledge360 can connect with many of the tools you already use, including the following:

  • Slack
  • Yammer
  • Quip
  • SharePoint
  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Salesforce
  • Tableau

The Bottom Line: If collaboration and knowledge management features are important to you in your search for the competitive intelligence software, either tool would be a great fit.

Choosing the Right Tool for You

As we’ve said before, choosing the right tool for you is based on selecting the tool built for your specific needs. In this case, you should be determining if financial and M&A data is what you need, or require the support of a larger scale competitive intelligence solution.

In the case of these two tools specifically, we often find that they aren’t mutually exclusive. Many of our clients in industries with high M&A activity actually choose to use both and pull data from PitchBook into Knowledge360 to fuel their larger competitive intelligence strategy.

Knowledge360 bottom line: Knowledge360 is a tool best suited for organizations with a dedicated competitive intelligence team in industries where strong regulations or high levels of competition are present, and collaboration across departments and disparate teams is very important.

Sharpr bottom line: Sharpr is one of the most advanced methods to take the “build your own” approach for your competitive intelligence data, and includes some of the most advanced knowledge management features.

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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