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how-to-gather-intelligenceMotivating your employees across the entire enterprise on how to gather intelligence from the field and how to share their unique perspectives to inform strategy can help you tap into a wealth of information that may be going largely unnoticed. Every touchpoint with a customer or prospect is an opportunity to gain insights that can be used to inform sales, marketing, product development, and the overall corporate strategy. Organizations should be prepared to face some challenges when developing a company-wide intelligence gathering initiative, including:

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Ethics - Ensuring employees are collecting high quality information in an ethical manner can be tricky, especially for a multinational organization operating in different countries with varied local customs and culturally accepted practices.

Collaboration - Providing an easy and appealing way for employees to contribute is a key component of any successful intelligence gathering initiative. Unfortunately, technology gaps, internal communication pitfalls, and language barriers can complicate this process and deter participation.

Knowledge Management - Adopting methods for storing intelligence and analysis and communicating findings is a necessity to effectively evaluate and act on strategic insights, but many organizations struggle to implement easy-to-use systems and fully take advantage of all the available sources of information.

Utilizing the 3-step guide below, organizations can avoid many of these challenges and create a streamlined and effective intelligence gathering process.

Step 1. Create a Clear Policy that Defines Collection Procedures – Similar to an employee code of conduct, an intelligence gathering policy should provide clear guidelines governing the collection of competitive intelligence, including:  acceptable sources (marketing materials, websites, third-party research reports, etc.); methods of collection (free download, email subscription, trade show); and restricted activities that could be construed as unethical.

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Step 2. Make It Easy for Employees to Submit Intelligence – When employees find opportunities to collect information at industry conferences or other public events, there must be an easy method for capturing and sharing the information with the team. The process should be as simple as taking a picture, writing a brief description and uploading from a mobile device. As client-facing employees answer customer questions via email, ask them to bcc: a member of the marketing our competitive intelligence team. Gathering this information can provide insights into shifts in your market.You may even identify new opportunities for your product or sales teams. 

Step 3. Report Regularly on Applications and Impact of Intelligence Collected – Keep your employees engaged by demonstrating how competitive intelligence is being used, and the impact for themselves and their teams to encourage a free flow of information. Intelligence should be reviewed for quality and policy compliance before reporting in a periodic, digestible format that illustrates the value of competitive intelligence.

To further assist with your intelligence gathering and analysis process, visit Cipher’s resource center to search by topic or content type. 

Our competitive intelligence tool Knowledge360® integrates intelligence collected from your employees in the field and your own internal data and analysis with real-time news aggregation, competitor, and financial information. Your data is automatically indexed and analyzed to help you find what you’re looking for fast.

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