You may be the only person at your company with “intelligence” or “research” in your title, but that doesn’t mean you’re the only one responsible for competitive Intelligence at your organization.
Even if you're lucky enough to have a small team performing market and competitive intelligence work, the responsibility for how your organization gathers, analyzes and shares market and competitor intelligence should be shared by all employees.
If your organization is like most, Competitive Intelligence (CI) is only one portion of what you do and may have been something you were tasked with following an event that caught your management team off-guard.
If you are going to successfully "do competitive intelligence" you need help, but that doesn’t always mean hiring and adding more bodies in seats.
For market research and competitive analysis to have value throughout your organization, you need to create a Culture of CI.
Companies with this perspective understand that everyone, from the front-line sales team to the back-office procurement group, must have a shared understanding of what competitive intelligence means and what your objectives, outcomes, and strategies are for identifying and adapting to disruption.
Market and Competitive Intelligence (M/CI) describes the insights derived from the collection and analysis of external data and information related to customers, potential customers, competitors and other external factors impacting your business like regulatory and compliance trends.
Starting small doesn't mean that you are starting an impossible journey.
We understand the difficulties faced when beginning an M/CI practice and have identified eight free CI tools. You WILL get there, it just means that a little more work, time, and planning are required.
Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day!
I hearken back to a time when I began working in software development as product owner on an agile team. Our primary objective on the team was to deliver working software. We had stakeholders with whom we had close relationships and communicated what was going to be delivered. But often our communication happened AFTER hours of work eliciting requirements, AFTER planning the work with the software development team, and AFTER they began working.
When something went wrong and we couldn't deliver on a commitment, we were left scrambling to find alternative solutions, or worse, make the surprise call to a client informing them that they weren't going to receive what they expected. This placed a strain our relationships with our clients and among our team members.
It wasn’t until we implemented a new methodology - one that involved stakeholders IN planning meetings, BEFORE work began, and as participants of the ENTIRE process - that our relationships strengthened. Our clients became more than just observers, they became partners.
As with every project, things still went wrong. We may have uncovered an unknown dependency or missed a milestone, only now when it happened, there were no surprises.
In many organizations, the market and competitive intelligence functions are part of the marketing department. Several typical marketing activities involve gathering competitor and market information. For example, understanding what keywords a competitor uses in Google Adwords campaigns can provide insights into a competitor’s marketing and business strategy.
A word of caution.
Building a Competitive Intelligence Culture within your organization requires more than sending out a newsletter or building a SharePoint dashboard that you expect users to "log in" to and receive the actionable insights they need. It requires laying a foundation and building a community of support, partnerships, and shared responsibility.
Set up meetings with each group. Talk about your vision, highlight key information you uncovered in your interviews.
You may even want to create a specific logo and associate it with your work product. This will raise the visibility of your work and help identify what intelligence your business groups value and how your organization is leveraging the new insights and knowledge you are sharing. You won't just be creating a culture of CI; you'll be creating trusted partnerships and a team of advocates.
These five simple steps will begin laying the groundwork towards creating a culture of CI.
You are now armed with the information you need to look inward at your own internal processes and modify them to align with your overall vision and the needs of your stakeholders.
You may even decide that you need a software solution to help. For help choosing the right market and competitive intelligence software tool, use this 2020 Buyer’s Guide to help select the right M/CI software tool for your company.
If you already have a software solution, it’s time to talk to your customer success manager. They are a great resource for helping you build out your solution based on your desired outcomes.
Once you start the process, remember, it will take a while. But don't give up! The time you invest in creating a Culture of CI will pay off in the long run when ownership of the CI function is shared, and insights and outcomes deliver value every. Single. Time.
As the Director of Customer Success, Jennifer Knauff is our resident expert on implementing, optimizing, and gleaning competitive insights from Knowledge360®. Jennifer leads on-boarding and ongoing support efforts for Knowledge360® customers and advocates to prioritize customer feedback to the product development team. She is a certified Scrum Master and Scrum Product Owner.