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The Complete Guide to Competitive Intelligence

Fred Hoffman, D.Sc.

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September 20, 2018

You can't keep your ship on course if you don't have a clear view of the ocean.

In the same way that an effective captain needs to keep an eye out for looming storms and threatening enemy ships in order to stay afloat, a successful business leader needs to keep track of competitor activity and market trends in order to meet their business goals.

Industry leaders have long accepted competitive intelligence (CI) as an essential and regular piece of their business strategies. They use it to analyze and understand the market, their existing customers and their competition to make smarter, more informed decisions for their companies. However, competitive intelligence is also regularly used as a way to protect intellectual property (IP) when developing and releasing new products or announcing major events in the market.

The value that market and competitive intelligence can contribute to your organization is undeniable. But if you're new to this essential business practice, it can be tough to work out the right process for conducting it strategically. No worries — as experts and CI practitioners, we at Cipher are here to help.

Creating a plan for your competitive intelligence system is as simple as following these five steps:

  1. Information planning: Ask yourself: what information do I need? Where will I find this information?
  2. Information collecting: Pool your available resources to collect the essential data.
  3. Information organization: Filter the data to decide what is and isn't relevant.
  4. Information analysis: Use the data you gathered to gain insight and make predictions.
  5. Information production and dissemination: Present these insights to the right stakeholders to help them decide on strategic next steps for the business.

By following this process with your business objectives in mind, you can streamline your competitive intelligence process and use it to gain the maximum benefit for your business. With the right strategy, consultants and software, you'll be able to reduce the risk of market surprises and stay ahead of your competitors.

Are you interested in learning more? Our new competitive intelligence guide will provide you with all of the resources you need to begin developing your CI function at a maximum value to your business. In it, we will:

  • Consider the industries with the greatest need for CI
  • Discuss the role of marketers in CI
  • Provide helpful outside resources from leading CI experts
  • Walk you through choosing the right CI tools
  • Discuss when it's necessary to bring in a CI consultant

Download the competitive intelligence guide here to begin to effectively protect your company's sensitive information, anticipate important developments in the industry and become a leader in your market.

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Fred Hoffman, D.Sc.
Fred Hoffman, D.Sc.

Following a 30-year career as an intelligence collector and information operations practitioner in the US Army and multiple civilian intelligence organizations, Fred now draws upon his broad experience in worldwide intelligence collection, information operations, corporate personnel and intellectual property protection to support both government and commercial clients.

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