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Multiple competitor reports can paint disparate pictures that don't give insight into the full mural of where your market is headed and what next steps would be most beneficial to your company. An overload of disconnected data won't help you to gain clarity.

You need to approach your market research strategically to obtain better, more actionable insights.

You've compiled a repository of data and reports, but now comes the even more difficult part. Data overload can continue past the collection phase and seep into the rest of your competitive market analysis if you don't properly filter information. In order to find and apply the right information filters, you need not only proper organizational resources and technology, but also time and effort from a dedicated team. 

Don't sacrifice all that you could glean from your data due to limited time or resources. Realign your strategic focus. Here are the first steps on the road to meeting your CI goals.

Step 1: Identify Your Objective

Data and analysis will act as the wind in the sail to get you to your destination. But first, you need to know where you're headed. What do you want to know, and how will it help inform your business strategy? There might be certain shifts in the market that make it clear what you need to know, but using data continuously to support and inform your key business decisions means that research cannot be an aimless endeavor. There is too much data circulating both offline and on the internet to enter data collection without a focus, searching in a strategic manner for what you need.

In order to get the most from your data composites, you need to train your team on their research objectives and give them ample time to compile and consolidate information. The length of time it takes to do this effectively will depend on your team's experience with research and access to information.

Step 2: Plan for Your Data Organization

Organization of disparate data sources can be a time-consuming undertaking. If you don't have a dedicated internal team for CI research and organization, then the team you choose will be diverted from their other job requirements for the time it takes to accomplish the task.

Alternatively, you can bring in a team of strategy consultants to do the job. Experts who can sift through your data composites and pull the important information, then present it to you in a meaningful and actionable way, will reduce research friction. CI consultants will require less time to accomplish the same task, if only because they are specialists, and organizing your data in a way that makes sense to you is their primary focus. Less time spent organizing means a faster, more informed, and streamlined decision making process.

Step 3: Ask a Set of Answerable Questions

When working with a team of consultants or with an internal team, communicate to them the questions you are looking to answer. This will require some strategizing on your part to identify those questions, but it will be important to narrow the list to the team you choose to work with because they will be using those questions to filter out important information and to present what they find in an impactful and meaningful way.

Step 4: Find the Answers

Your team will need to filter, package and present their findings to you in a digestible, shareable manner, such that the answers to the research questions are exceedingly clear. Not everyone has an eye for raw data, so presenting the findings clearly will be integral to how many miles you will get out of your research. If done well, you will be able to use these data visualizations to discuss talking points with partners or higher ups. If done incorrectly, you will have reports that cease to be meaningful after they are presented to you.

Whether you entrust your CI research to an internal team or to a group of consultants, you will be trusting the potential of your strategic direction to them. Empower the team you select with the resources and tools they need to help you connect the dots and fully understand your competitive market landscape. This will ensure that the results of this endeavor adequately inform your strategy and steer your business forward.

Download Your Guide: The 6 Steps Toward CI Optimization