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As a competitive intelligence analyst, you know how difficult it is to be successful without the support of sophisticated technology. The amount of data you have to deal with on a daily basis is simply unfathomable and continues to grow at an ever-faster pace. In practice, it’s impossible to effectively source, process, and analyze this data to produce meaningful insights without software. The industry is unquestionably trending in this direction, with a 93% likelihood that competitive intelligence teams will use more technology three years from now than they do today, according to research conducted jointly by Cipher and SCIP

 

You’re all too aware that access to competitive intelligence software is a prerequisite for success, but at the same time, you also know how difficult it can be to make the business case for your company to invest in this technology. Adopting a new software can be complex and can often take months to implement. That’s why it’s vital you frame the business case in a way that’s compelling to decision-makers, leaving them with no doubt that they should invest in M/CI technology. 

 

Today, we’re giving you the tools you need to make this business case in your organization. Persuasive business case presentations that speak the language of your company’s decision-makers include seven key elements:

 

  1. Executive summary
  2. Objectives
  3. Stakeholders
  4. Solution
  5. Implementation plan
  6. Costs
  7. Impact

 

Armed with this structure, you’ll have all the tools you need to convince your organization’s leadership that the time to invest in competitive intelligence software is now. But before we get into the details, let’s first summarize the business case for competitive intelligence software. 

What is the Business Case for Competitive Intelligence Software?

Organizations that embrace competitive intelligence software operate in a fundamentally different way than those that do not. When a company adopts this technology successfully, they take huge strides toward becoming more competitive in its market. They can better understand new trends, predict how their competitors might behave, and closely monitor a wide variety of different developments. 

 

Contrast that to an organization that doesn’t employ any form of CI software. Their CI team will be overwhelmed by data and struggle to produce any meaningful insights. They might catch major industry developments, but they'll likely miss all of the indicators that led up to them, as well as all kinds of unfolding trends, innovations, and activities or indirect or adjacent competitors.

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Virtually every company operates in a highly competitive market, and with breathtaking innovation and constant disruption, this is only set to continue. The research supports this: there is over a 90% chance that we’ll see more markets flooded by disruptors or new competitors in the next three years. To be successful in the long term, companies simply cannot afford not to track competitive activities and market developments.

What is the Business Case for Knowledge360®?

Knowledge360® is an industry-leading market and competitive intelligence platform. It’s packed with data collection and analysis tools but also functions as the organizational hub for all competitive intelligence efforts, enabling frictionless collaboration across entire businesses. 

 

Cipher, the team behind Knowledge360®, brings true expertise in competitive intelligence to the table, with a twenty-year track record in competitive intelligence consulting and software development. With award-winning customer support, strategic consulting services, and experience in every major industry, the team at Cipher is one you know you can trust. 

 

A successful rollout of a competitive intelligence software platform is driven by the creation and proliferation of a true culture of competitive intelligence. That’s only possible when stakeholders across the entire organization have seamless access to both consume from and contribute to competitive intelligence efforts, and that demands a centralized CI software platform.

 

With Knowledge360, decision-makers have access to real-time intelligence on their customers, competitors, and markets. Armed with these insights, leaders can make decisions with higher levels of confidence, more effectively allocate strategic resources, and build an enduring competitive advantage.  

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What Does a Successful CI Software Business Case Include?

It’s often necessary to get sign-off from senior stakeholders in your organization to purchase and implement a CI software platform. That requires that you make a business case justifying why this investment will be a net positive for the business. 

 

As you make this case, you need to clearly express it in terms that decision makers understand. Closely relate the business case to the strategic goals of your business, and explain exactly how and why investing in this technology will enable you to deliver incremental value to decision makers. This is a bulletproof way to present your case, and is also a huge positive for your career trajectory: showing you have the strategic nous to contextualize investment decisions to the overriding mission of the business. 

 

Ultimately, your goal is to convince decision-makers of the value of the CI software you want to implement. Exactly how you do that will be driven by your own business. This could be a formal presentation, a short report, or some other medium. 

 

Regardless of the format, let’s review once more (this time in more detail) the seven elements a convincing business case for CI software possesses:

 

  1. Executive summary – a high-level overview of the business case.
  2. Objectives – the goals and challenges that embracing CI software will address.
  3. Stakeholders –  the key individuals involved in this initiative.
  4. Solution – explains the options considered, then zeros in on the relevant solution.
  5. Implementation – outlines the process for rolling out the software.
  6. Costs – addresses the costs associated with adopting the new CI technology.
  7. Impact – summarizes the overall impact that this CI software will have on the business.

 

Let’s break down each element of this presentation in more detail.  

Part I: Executive Summary

Slide 1

 

An executive summary outlines the most important points from each section of the report. This is a brief section and should give decision-makers a summary of the entire presentation in no more than a few short paragraphs. Include these elements in your executive summary:

 

  • Business need
  • The goal of implementing the technology
  • Implementation timeline
  • A clear summary of the business impact

 

The purpose of this section is to provide stakeholders with a high-level overview of the business case and set the stage for the rest of the presentation.

Part II: Objectives

Slide 2

 

In this section, summarize the business challenges and opportunities that adopting CI software will help the company address. Where possible, tie these back to the overall strategic goals of the business. Examples of this would include:

 

  • Sales Enablement: give sales teams actionable insights they can use to improve their competitive win rate and drive increased revenue.
  • Product Strategy: better understand market and competitive trends to better innovate, launch, and position products for maximum customer adoption.
  • Improve Strategic Decision Making: provide leadership with real-time competitive intelligence that enables the business to make faster, more informed strategic decisions.

Part III: Stakeholders

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The successful rollout of any new software tool requires a range of different stakeholders to champion, implement, and evangelize the tool. As you put together your business case, it’s important to identify exactly who these stakeholders are in your organization. 

 

Identify individuals and be clear on the responsibilities that they will be assigned. Generally, there are four key groups of stakeholders that you should consider:

 

  • Project Lead: as the person making the case to implement CI software, this person will likely be you. You will have overall responsibility for the rollout of the tool. 
  • Executive Sponsor(s): it’s important that you have backing from a member of the senior management team. They amplify your voice internally and give you support as needed. It’s best to have multiple executive sponsors spread across different functions.
  • Collaborators: you will likely need support in rolling out the initiative. This could be technical support from an IT team to help set up the tool or support from a member of the sales team who will be responsible for driving adoption amongst their colleagues.
  • Recipients: these are the individuals who will access the tool regularly to consume and contribute competitive intelligence. Examples might include Sales Managers, Product Managers, or the Corporate Strategy team

Part IV: Solution

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Ultimately, you should recommend one software platform, but you should begin this section by summarizing the criteria used to evaluate different tools and arrive at your choice. Showcasing this due diligence is important and helps decision-makers to understand why you have opted for one platform over others. 

 

Once you’ve established why you’ve chosen a particular solution, provide a summary of that platform. Share the core features of the tool and highlight the value the platform will bring to the organization as a whole. 

Part V: Implementation Plan

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Rolling out a new software tool requires a clear implementation plan and this section should demonstrate to decision-makers that you’ve considered every element of this. Include a clear timeline with tangible milestones and clear responsibilities for each key stakeholder. 

 

You should also address any risks in your implementation plan and show that you have considered mitigation strategies. Before you present your business case, make sure everyone is aligned on the implementation plan and understands their role.

Part VI: Costs

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Share the costs associated with adopting the CI software tool. There are various categories of costs that you should consider here: from the cost of the software itself to the personnel required to work on implementation. Work closely with your CI software vendor to understand what these costs will look like and ask for industry benchmarks to help you make accurate projections.

 

Be clear on how the cost of this software would fit in your overall budget. You should also highlight any assumptions that you have made in your calculations and provide the underlying logic that supports these.

Part VII: Impact

This is perhaps the most important section of your business case, and it’s vital that you quantify the impact that adopting the CI solution will have. There are different kinds of impact: some will be measurable while others will be more intangible. As you summarize the impact, consider what’s most important to decision-makers. 

 

In general, there are three different categories of impact that you should include:

 

  1. Improvements to Efficiency: one of the primary value drivers of CI software is enabling competitive intelligence analysts to spend less time on low-value tasks like data collection and more time on high-value tasks like analysis and collaboration. Aim to quantify these improvements: Knowledge360® gives analysts as much as 45% more time to spend on these high-value tasks

 

  1. Improvements to Key Performance Indicators: adopting a CI tool should drive a tangible improvement in key metrics. It’s easy to look at indicators like competitive win/loss rate, and it’s true that this is often a good place to focus your initial efforts to drive adoption. However, you should also aim to drive improvements to KPIs in the various functions that will use the technology, including marketing, product, and strategy teams. 

 

  1. Competitive Advantage: used correctly, a CI software platform transforms the way your company competes, enabling leaders to make high-quality strategic decisions that ensure your business remains a step ahead of the competition. Over time, the effects of this compound, and your business will develop a sustainable competitive advantage.

How to Get Your Business Case for CI Software Approved

Getting your business case for CI software approved isn’t always a straightforward process. These conversations can take time and you’ll have to overcome objections, get alignment from a variety of key stakeholders, and build a bulletproof business case. 

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Throughout this process, there are several best practices to keep in mind:

  • Be clear on the problems that this technology will help to address and the benefits that it will deliver. 
  • Make sure you identify and get alignment from everyone who is involved in the process. 
  • Begin with a free trial of the software and focus on education so that everyone understands how to use the platform. 
  • Finally, create a sense of urgency – every day that your CI team operates without CI software is a day that your company falls further behind the competition. 

 

The team at Cipher is here to help answer any questions you have about adopting Knowledge360®. Schedule a call today to learn more