4 Minute Read

In the competitive intelligence (CI) process, one of the most important aspects is building an effective CI deliverable that decision makers can act upon. No matter how robust the underlying data might be, or how insightful the intelligence is, it will all be for nothing if the CI deliverable isn’t built effectively for the stakeholder it is presented to. 

It’s all too easy to end up with a deliverable packed full of amazing insights that nobody actually reads.

Format the CI deliverable poorly, or without taking the needs of your target audience into account, and it’s all too easy to end up with a deliverable packed full of amazing insights that nobody actually reads. 

In this article, we’ll share our top tips for building a CI deliverable that cuts through the noise and enables intelligence teams to deliver game-changing insights directly to their target audience. We’ll cover the following elements, and will share some of the best practices to bear in mind as you build a competitive intelligence deliverable for your own organization: 

  • Understanding your audience
  • Identifying and acting on key objectives
  • Selecting the appropriate medium and format
  • Asking for feedback
  • Finding the right technology for building CI deliverables

But before we dive deeper into exploring the best ways to build a deliverable, let’s define exactly what we mean by a CI deliverable. 

We’ve even built a handy table for you that clearly defines which audience should receive which deliverable. If you’re pressed for time, feel free to skip straight to the table.

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What is a Competitive Intelligence Deliverable?

Competitive intelligence deliverables are documents or presentations that are used to share competitive intelligence with internal or external audiences. 

Exactly what they look like depends on a few variables, and will be different for every organization. The factors that influence CI deliverables include:

  • The audience for the deliverable
  • The objectives of the intelligence team and the wider organization
  • The format of the deliverable
  • How frequently the deliverable is shared

For some organizations, a CI deliverable could be a recurring weekly CI report shared with top executives. For others, it might be a real-time dashboard that the sales team relies on in order to leverage intelligence on competitors that helps them close more deals. 

Identifying the Audience for the CI Deliverable

One of the primary factors intelligence teams should weigh when building their CI deliverable is the profile of their target audience. Competitive intelligence has many applications, and can be used all across the organization - with stakeholders ranging from marketing and sales teams working directly with customers, to executives and corporate strategy teams shaping long-term plans. 

Each of these different groups require distinct competitive intelligence deliverables. The insights that help a sales representative win their next deal are very different from those that enable executives to envisage a long-term competitive strategy for the entire business. Remember that many people––particularly executives––are pressed for time. Make sure that your CI deliverable focuses on high-level insights rather than overwhelming executives with unnecessary details. 

Another consideration is whether the audience needs to hear about the insights directly from the intelligence team. If the deliverable features crucial intelligence that an audience must fully understand, consider shifting to a presentation. This allows the audience to ask questions to clarify any issues they don’t understand and engage with the insights on a deeper level. 

On the other hand, if the intelligence being shared is routine and non-urgent in nature, put together a document that acts as an asynchronous deliverable that everyone can access in their own time. 

Clarify Key Objectives

All CI deliverables should begin with clear objectives in mind. The intelligence team should have a stated rationale for why they’re sharing the intelligence, who they’re sharing it with, and what they hope to achieve. 

The intelligence team should have a stated rationale for why they’re sharing the intelligence, who they’re sharing it with, and what they hope to achieve.

There are a variety of objectives that drive the competitive intelligence process. At Cipher, we group these objectives into three key categories: sales and marketing, company-wide intelligence, and executive-level insight. The table below displays the optimal forms of deliverable for each objective:

Ci-deliverable-matrix

(click to enlarge)

Take care to ensure that the objectives of the CI deliverable support the overall objectives of the wider organization. The purpose of the CI function is to provide stakeholders across the organization with higher-quality information they can use to make decisions and allocate resources more effectively. Every deliverable should reflect that.

The Format of the Deliverable

Creating an effective format for the CI deliverable is a major determining factor in dictating how the target audience will engage with the intelligence. Ensure the format is well-suited to the needs of the readers, and consider these best practices as you mold the deliverable:

  • Be concise: CI teams deal with a lot of data, and there’s no question that the analysis they do is highly complex. However, when sharing insights in a deliverable, it’s best to share a series of key takeaways, rather than a long, in-depth report.

  • Include visualizations: everyone processes information in different ways, and the deliverable should reflect that. Make sure to include visualizations of key data in the form of charts and graphs that make it easy for your audience to quickly understand the salient points.

  • Tailor the format to the audience: the format of the deliverable should be built around the unique needs of the audience. Busy executives may only have time to read a one-page summary before an important meeting, whereas other groups may have more time to process a longer report with more detailed insights. 

Bear these principles in mind as you develop the CI deliverable. By taking the time to ensure the format is well thought out and accessible to your audience, the insights shared are much more likely to be read and acted upon.

Asking for Feedback and Commit to Constant Improvement

Another strategy to build a highly effective CI deliverable is to ask for feedback and make changes based on the suggestions of the audience. By doing this, the intelligence team is able to make key stakeholders feel more involved in the CI process, building closer relationships and benefitting from greater buy-in for their overall competitive intelligence efforts

By openly requesting feedback, intelligence teams are making a meaningful commitment to constantly improve their CI deliverables. However, it’s not just feedback that should drive improvement: intelligence teams should also embrace new technologies, experiment with alternative approaches, and seek out and leverage best practices from the wider market and competitive intelligence industry

The Optimal Approach: Real-Time Dashboards in Knowledge360Ⓡ

Perhaps the most effective approach to building a CI deliverable is to create a real-time dashboard in Knowledge360. Knowledge360 is a complete market and competitive intelligence platform that incorporates live data feeds, powerful analysis tools, and sophisticated dashboards that update in real-time.

The most effective approach to building a CI deliverable is to create a real-time dashboard.

By utilizing Knowledge360, intelligence teams can ensure that their audiences are always consuming the latest information. Powerful collaboration tools make it easy for intelligence teams to work with leaders across their organizations. Shared dashboards that can be built around specific topics or competitors to create a live CI deliverable. All told, Knowledge360 transforms intelligence functions and enables organizations to fundamentally evolve the way they compete. 

To learn more about Knowledge360, schedule a demo now.

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