When your company is considering a new approach to competitive intelligence, software will prove to be the most time- and cost-effective option. The next step is deciding which competitive intelligence software will work best with and for your company. This requires some research into your own company's goals. You should also consider the format in which certain software is sold, and how it is most effective. It can be difficult to know whether you're making the best choice, but here are some key indicators to look for when comparing your options.
Each company will have different goals and needs associated with the software they choose. Therefore, customization is an important factor when choosing the most effective software for your company. Your software should be able to accomplish your goals as cost effectively and as efficiently as possible, whatever those goals are.
Some competitive intelligence software is sold as customizable by the vendors, while other software is customizable by the users. This difference is important to note when comparing options.
Though vendor customizable options can be better for larger enterprise companies, they are generally more expensive and the price increases as you add more features the more customizable features you add, which is not suitable for all companies.
User customizable software is ideal for a company expecting change and growth. As your company evolves or expands into other markets, your competitive intelligence software needs to be able to adapt to continue to fit your company's needs. User customizable options give you more access and a hands-on say into how competitive intelligence can be more cost effective and intuitive for the users in your company.
It should be clear to you how your competitive intelligence software is working for you over time. Varying levels of access and editing capabilities for you and your employees will make competitive intelligence more collaborative and transparent. With the right access controls built in to your competitive intelligence function, you can ensure the right team members are accessing the data they need reliably and regularly, netting better results and continued efficiency gains in the long-term.
Accessibility parameters for the information gained from your software should be clear when you purchase, but they should also within your power to control as your team grows or changes.
Before you continue your research into software, you must understand the type of data and analysis your company demands from a competitive intelligence tool. Hold tight to that. Don't be swayed by the analytic buzzwords. Know what information your company will be looking for, and find an intelligence software that will provide the type of metrics that speak to your questions.
Take into consideration whether or not the software provider you're evaluating offers advanced technologies like natural language processors or artificial intelligence to organize and filter information. Can you answer your most complex questions without that technology?
When it's time to choose which software will be the best for your company, always make time for a demonstration and press each software provider on questions that will be important to you moving forward. Does their methodology align with the answers you are trying to find? Is their process effective and ethical? Do they offer consulting and system maintenance assistance?
Ultimately, choosing the right software is all about alignment. Align your company's goals for competitive intelligence with a software provider who speaks most to those goals and offers high quality intelligence at the right price. That's how you begin a competitive intelligence effort that will actually net results.
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.