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In a recent episode of The Gambit Podcast, our guest Troy Pfeffer discussed at length the importance of building an intelligent company. Troy is VP of Partnerships and Strategy for the Americas at Howspace, and has extensive experience building and scaling competitive intelligence (CI) efforts at large organizations. 

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The Complete Guide to Market and Competitive Intelligence

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Building an intelligent company requires a move towards a CI culture. For many organizations, this represents a radical shift, but a cultural change that places emphasis on CI can build a sustainable competitive advantage across every area of the company. The external environment that organizations operate in is more complex than ever, and the rapid pace of change demands that the CI team be supported by the entire company. 

Like many major strategic initiatives in organizations, the success of building a competitive intelligence culture is governed by three key factors: people, processes, and technology. We’ll explore how leaders can utilize each of these levers to propel their organization towards a competitive intelligence culture.

Defining a Competitive Intelligence Culture

In a company with a true CI culture, the entire organization plays a role in the intelligence process. This approach leverages the knowledge of every employee, and encourages them to seek out new information and proactively share this with the rest of the organization. 

Organizations often have as much as 75% or more of the competitive intelligence they need already present within their organization.

The collective wisdom of the entire organization is far greater than the sum of its parts. In our experience, organizations often have as much as 75% or more of the competitive intelligence they need already present in their organization; they’re just unable to put all the pieces together. A CI culture provides the environment, processes, and leverages the technology, often a software platform that enable individuals across the information to effectively share this information. 

When information is collected and analyzed at scale, it’s possible to detect patterns and trends that aren’t evident when pieces of knowledge are looked at in isolation.

This speaks to the value of a CI culture, and illustrates why prominent leaders in the industry believe this is the future of competitive intelligence.  


The Three Elements of a CI Culture

As mentioned, there are three key elements when it comes to building an infrastructure that supports the development of a CI culture:

  1. Methodologies & Processes
  2. A Network of Individuals
  3. A Sophisticated M/CI Technology Platform 

These three elements have to be uniformly supported by consistent messaging from the leadership of the organization. Your leaders are responsible for driving cultural change, and should lead by example, working to break down "information silos" and advance the agenda of CI efforts. 

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With that said, let’s explore the three elements outlined above.

1. Methodologies & Processes

Information is gathered every day all across your organization, whether that’s a sales rep writing up their notes after a call with a customer, or an executive reading an industry report. While all of these activities that would fall under the umbrella of CI are already occurring, they’re not necessarily recognized as such.

It’s critical that everyone across the organization understands the role of information, and knows how to record and share it with others. Creating the infrastructure for these processes to be carried out within a large organization often requires technology, but before that, it requires  coordinated training across the organization to ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities in this new culture. Focus on simplicity and break the information gathering process down into clear steps that everyone can follow. 

2. A Network of Individuals

Of the three elements, this is perhaps the most important in shaping the adoption of a CI culture throughout the organization. It’s important there is a network of individuals spread across different functions, levels, and geographies of the organization who are assigned responsibility for organizing the cultural shift.

At the outset of an organization’s move towards a CI culture, it’s important to identify all the key stakeholders who will need to be bought into the shift in order for it to be effective. Often, the best way to demonstrate the value of CI is to show quick, tangible wins that come about directly as a result of your competitive intelligence. 

Many times, the sales organization will be the most skeptical of this new CI culture, but fortunately, sales is often the area where it’s easiest to demonstrate CI value. Seek out low-hanging fruit that will better position your sales team to win their next deal. Consider how to enable the sales team with new knowledge and insights.

Begin small and grow, as your CI aids your sales team, ask for quotes and testimonials that you can share internally with other sales groups. From there, you'll find it’s easier expand your buy-in from key individuals in the sales organization (after all you're helping them win deals!) Continue to break down silos and work to push your CI influence across your firm. Over time you'll find your CI will play a more prominent role in the long-term strategic decision making of the organization. 

3. A Sophisticated M/CI Technology Platform

Choosing the right M/CI platform is a critical step in shaping the competitive intelligence culture of any organization. These days, technology is foundational to the way organizations operate, and it’s important that you choose a technology platform with the flexibility to ensure it will be widely adopted across the organization. Remember, your CI consumers (employees that use your intelligence and insights for the betterment of the company) have a narrow interest in the type and application of your CI, as they should. 

Tools like Knowledge360Ⓡ have the ability to act as a competitive intelligence hub. Centralizing all resources, insights, and communication for all your company's departments into one collaborative platform is a part of an intelligent company's DNA.  If you’re interested in learning more about M/CI software platforms, check out our buyer’s guide, or schedule a demo to learn more about the capabilities of Knowledge360. 

Final Thoughts on Building a Competitive Intelligence Culture

Building a CI culture is no light undertaking, but it’s an investment that is certainly worth the time and effort. As the external environment firms operate in become ever more complex, and changes occur at an increasingly rapid pace, it’s imperative that organizations leverage all of their information to better understand their competitive environment. 

With investments in proven methodologies and processes, leadership from a network of key stakeholders, and the right technology platform, organizations are able to develop a culture of competitive intelligence that builds a lasting competitive advantage. 

To learn more about building a competitive intelligence culture, check out our Competitive Intelligence Resource Center

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