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Maximizing your competitive advantage will require intelligence inputs as a part of your solution. And your challenges will begin with the word itself. Simply put, “intelligence” is the “synergy” of the 90’s or the “pivot” of the ‘00’s. 

The word “intelligence” has become so nuanced, and applied to so many different terms, it requires a level set before even beginning to consider applying any to your competitor analysis.  

Most commonly, intelligence is about understanding data and deriving meaningful use from collected data is the only way to build a competitive business strategy that leverages your competitive advantages.

Understanding the types of intelligence associated with your strategies will help you to; effectively collect and organize the data you have, discover new data, perform the needed analysis and ultimately share your findings with your executive, sales, marketing and or product teams to improve their strategies. 

Readily used (but commonly misunderstood) intelligence terms include:

  • Market Intelligence
  • Customer Intelligence
  • Business Intelligence
  • Competitive Intelligence

Let’s explore what these mean and how to extract actionable strategies from each.


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The Complete Guide to Market and Competitive Intelligence

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Market Intelligence

Market intelligence (MI) is the gathering and analyzing of information related to your industries or markets. This could include information on current trends, supply and demand and targeted consumers. Think of it like this, market intelligence is everything outside of your business.  

Any business that sells products or services has a need for market intelligence. For example, a company that sells high-tech headphones may keep an eye on market demographics or trending colors in technology accessories to inform its product development team. 

Companies that use market intelligence are often able to develop their products and services in the most consumer-attractive way typically resulting in a high volume of interest and purchases. 

Competitor Intelligence

Gathering and analyzing information about your competitors is known as competitor intelligence. This is extremely helpful for market intelligence. If your competitor is successful, analyzing their data is a great way to see how your company is falling short. 

Same goes for competitors that are not on top. Seeing holistic data from both the winners and relative underdogs in your industry will provide a view of the competitive field. This can powerfully inform the steps any team takes in their marketplace. Everything from advertising to product design will benefit from regular, quality competitive analysis and to do that you need competitor intelligence.

SWOT Analysis

Many consider SWOT analysis to be the foundation of all types of intelligence. 

SWOT analysis short for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. 

Some teams use a SWOT analysis to self-analyze, but it also can be a valuable exercise to analyze your competitors. A corporate strategy team may look at a competitor’s profile that contains recent acquisitions, new product releases, funding investments, income and advertising. 

From this information, they can then perform a SWOT analysis on the competitor. A competitor SWOT analysis provides insights into your wins and losses—as well as many of the opportunities and threats—that exist outside your own operations.

Customer Intelligence

Gathering data on your customer’s preferences and actions (especially those related to buying) is the basis of customer intelligence. Company that sells a product or service need to gather customer intelligence. This kind of intelligence could include product views, company social media data, purchase history and more. 

The most useful aspect of customer intelligence is the ability to understand customer demographics and predict buying and behavior. Once a company understands these key factors, the advertising, packaging and product design can be tailor-made to fit a target consumer. 

This is where primary research on customer behaviors, needs and desires proves incredibly beneficial.

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Business Intelligence

This type of intelligence is unique to your business and may look like an internal operations audit. Business intelligence typically includes internal data mining and analytics to inform decision making and strategy planning. This kind of intelligence is mostly used in development, manufacturing and production where data is traveling through your organization or supply chain. It may be used to analyze the manufacturing or advertising process and find out where the company can gain efficiencies. 

Because business intelligence only analyzes internal data, the company is tapping into a select portion of all available data. 

Business intelligence at face-value is about analyzing and optimizing internal processes. Within this process there are a few subcategories.

Agile Business Intelligence

Agile business intelligence essentially speeds up the process of business data analytics and mining. It provides a different perspective on data and encourages business leaders to solve problems a little bit at a time rather than all at once. This type of intelligence is based on the Agile process most often used when developing software, it promotes flexibility, predictive planning and constant—but deliberate—improvement. 

Operational Intelligence

Operational intelligence is a subsection of business intelligence that analyzes data in real-time. It utilizes machine learning and artificial intelligence to inform front-line workers about important analytics as soon as they are ready. This allows employees to make quick decisions to add value or avoid disaster in the company. 

Sales Intelligence

This kind of intelligence is most useful to sales teams who need analytics on sales techniques and current or potential client bases. These analytics can help sales teams improve their pitches and presentations based on past client reception. By consolidating this data into a single location, these teams can optimize and increase their sales. 

Competitive Intelligence (CI)

Describes insights derived from the analysis of external information. As the name suggests, CI is focused on insights about your competitors and your competitive environment. Basic CI is designed to provide insights into your competitors’ capabilities and limitations. Basic CI tasks include things like competitor profiles, battle cards, and SWOT analysis. Advanced CI, which is much more complex and difficult, is designed to yield insights as to the competitors’ strategic intentions. Advanced CI activities include things like scenario planning, wargaming, and red teaming.

All industries use some form of competitive intelligence, from international stock traders to clothing stores to aeronautical engineers. With the right process, skill set and tools, competitive intelligence can inform your company on market trends, financial data, competitor information and so much more. 

When gathering competitive information, it’s vital to look for reliable sources that can provide data that spans industries. While you may be steeped in a specific industry, there is relevant data far outside the boundary of your day-to-day. Once gathered, interpreting your information can be challenging but the resulting competitive intelligence is worth the effort. 

The benefits are endless when it comes to competitive intelligence. It influences SWOT analysis, the design and development of products, to inform investment opportunities, and what competitor moves to track and more. If you’re looking for an incredible competitive intelligence platform with hundreds of thousands of data points and customization options, then you need Knowledge360

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A comprehensive guide to competitive intelligence that actually works!

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Get Smarter: Knowledge360 for Competitive Intelligence

Today’s world-class M/CI teams have broken the "M/CI cycle of Death" by leveraging technology. Recent advances in technology—specifically Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the form of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML). 

These technology advances offer unprecedented opportunities to automate the critically necessary, but time-consuming and low-value activities of collecting, organizing, and curating information.

The correct M/CI software tool allows researchers and analysts to focus on developing insights, which is the primary value intelligence teams have to offer. The right tool serves as a force-multiplier for the modern M/CI team, freeing the analyst from low-value tasks like collecting and organizing information from multiple sources. 

Our research shows M/CI professionals using a M/CI tool have as much as five times more time to devote to analysis and insight generation as those without a tool built to support M/CI work.

Knowledge360 is the best option for collecting, discovering, analyzing and collaborating as you develop your competitive intelligence. With news from 600,000 global sources and information from the top databases and reliable sources, you will find what you need when you use Knowledge360

This tool comes with a variety of features to make your competitive intelligence collection even easier:

  • Customizable filters and searches
  • Individualized user roles and permission access
  • SWOT analysis tool
  • Portfolio building capabilities
  • Collaboration, app integration and sharing capabilities
  • Financial data and customizable charts
  • Data set benchmarking against competitors
  • Customizable dashboards with drag-and-drop features

With an emphasis on collaboration, customization and automation, Knowledge360Ⓡ is the software tool you can count on to help you deliver high-value competitive analysis.  

If you would like to learn more about Knowledge360 or are wondering if it’s right for you, go here for a free demo.

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