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When strategic planning begins to feel like you are steering a ship at night in unfamiliar territory, it is important to find a guiding light that can bring your goals into clear view. A strategy consultant will offer insight into how your company can evade surprises and negative competitor influence to sail through uncharted waters unscathed and end up ahead of the curve, gaining momentum toward success.
High-stake business decisions should be backed by more than experience and emotion — especially in a market where your competitors are neck and neck with your every move. It makes sense that companies with similar goals and products will end up having similar strategies to accomplish those goals, but it is crucial to have a strategy that sets you apart from the competition. Hiring an outside consultant who specializes in competitive intelligence for companies like yours provides an opportunity to differentiate.
Competitive intelligence (CI) consultants are aware they are not experts in your field, but they are experts in the field of competitive strategy. Consultants see this outside-in approach as an opportunity to offer a unique and fresh perspective on what your company can be doing to surpass your competitors and stay ahead of the curve. They have both the necessary distance from your business and the specific experience in competitive planning to offer pointed, strategic value to your competitive intelligence efforts and show you how you can move forward with competitive strategies as a priority.
CI consultants begin engagements with clients by meeting with you and discussing your goals for competitive strategy. What are your goals? Consultants deal with a wide range of companies that have different needs from competitive strategy. Are you planning a product launch in the near future? CI consultants can analyze the market and guide you through the product launch in order to mitigate competitor interference and monitor the water for any possible hidden threats that could sink your product's success. Likewise, if you're looking to assemble a strategy for a longer competitive intelligence plan, then consultants can center their focus on a long-term plan that will act as a lighthouse through the fog, directing your future strategy when you lose sight of goals.
Consultants take that information and begin further research to create a detailed, comprehensive view of your market and your competitive landscape. They'll also begin to conduct a decision risk analysis to assess the timing and opportunity for success your business goals and projections will have in your market.
After an engagement kicks off and a CI strategy consultant from Cipher has the information on your company that they require, it takes an average of six to eight weeks to form a comprehensive report that includes key takeaways and points of view on how your competitive strategy could be improved.
The consultant gathers the information they need to create this report from a wide range of sources, including content in old reporting that you have from past attempts at CI, input from you on what is important, secondary research, and more.
Competitive and market intelligence will add value for your company when you're considering a consequential move in your market and need data to back your decision. A full scope of the competitive landscape will give you the added confidence to make those innovative leaps that disrupt the market and allow for your company to grow rapidly, but that also typically have a high potential for risk.
A partnership with Cipher to continue competitive intelligence can take a few different forms, depending on your company's goals and what combination of services apply most to those goals. Competitive intelligence tools like Knowledge360 (R), can be used as a radar to monitor competitor activity and alert you to new developments. However, a paired engagement (consulting services and Knowledge360 (R)) will combine strategic competitive planning with the constant reassurance of data-backed competitor updates. For example, if you're planning a product launch five years in the future, and want to ensure a successful endeavor, Cipher will be that guiding perspective and keep a keen eye on the conditions your market is facing ahead.
Enlisting the insight, perspective, and tools that come with a competitive intelligence consulting engagement offers a range of valuable possibilities for your team and your strategic plans — now and in the future. Cipher can help guide your company through treacherous waters. Our strategy consultants will provide reassurance that you can catch the winds of success. They'll also show you how.
Derek Heiss is the Director of Cipher’s Consulting Practice and is specialized in competitive intelligence and market strategy consulting. Cipher is a consulting and technology firm, based in Annapolis, with a 20+ year track record of delivering solutions to the Fortune 500 and Global 1,000.