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The Step-by-Step Guide for Selecting a Market and Competitive Intelligence Software Tool

Where are you in the selection process?

Selecting and implementing the right competitive intelligence software or tools is no small task. We have identified three key steps in this process which will help you ultimately move forward with the tool that best fits your needs.

Work through the steps outlined below, and then feel free to make use of any our additional resources provided at the bottom of this page.


Decide if you need CI software.

Many companies considering a CI software tool haven't done the pre-purchase work needed to make the most of an investment. We see many CI initiatives stall and die soon after they've begun, so let's start by deciding if you really need a CI tool.


Determine what kind of CI tool you need.

You'll want to start by understanding what kind of competitive intelligence tool you need: a complete CI platform, a sales enablement solution, or a web monitoring tool.


Determine your required feature-set & data sources.

Next you'll want to break down, in detail, your required features and data needs to help you vet potential solutions against your needs.


Do You Need a Competitive Intelligence Software Tool?

The first step in your process is to determine if you are a fit for a competitive intelligence software tool or not. Many consider a more "build your own" approach to monitoring market and competitor data.

Using Competitive Intelligence Software vs. a Build Your Own Approach

Many organizations use a BYO approach to competitive intelligence, and for some, it is a great choice. The trade-offs really come in terms of manual effort and oversight.

Read the Article

What is the Cost of CI?

Understanding what it looks like to truly do market and competitive intelligence correctly is a huge part of the battle. Learn more about what makes an investment in competitive intelligence tools succeed or fail.

Read the Article


How Lone Star Analytics is Making Huge Strides in Efficiency on their CI Team.

Learn how this competitive intelligence team is using competitive intelligence software to increase analyst effectiveness and improve efficiency.

Read the Case Study


Determining What Kind of Competitive Intelligence Tool You Need.

This section breaks down how to determine which category of competitive intelligence software will best serve your needs. There are many different types of tools on the market that each do different things, so understanding which kind will solve your unique pain points is important.

2020 Buyers Guide Book Cover - NEW Ribbon

Buyer's Guide for Market and Competitive Intelligence Software Tools

This guide breaks down the major categories of market and competitive intelligence tools in great detail, for those who want a deep dive.

Read the Guide

Types of Competitive Intelligence Software Tools

In general there are three primary categories of tools that are ultimately classified as "competitive intelligence tools" or "competitive intelligence software."

Competitive Intelligence Platforms

These tools are typically meant for competitive intelligence departments that support requests across the entire organization, whose analysis fuel strategic business-level decisions as well as departmental needs.

Sales Enablement Tools

Many tools labeled as competitive intelligence software fit into this category. They are laser focused on providing information specifically to the sales team to help inform competitive positioning.

Website Monitoring Tools

These tools are typically meant simply for monitoring news sources, social media, third party review sites and competitor websites for mentions of key competitors.



Looking for a Head to Head Comparison?

Take a look at how each category of tool compares.

Compare Tools

Determining Your Required Feature-Set & Data Sources.

This section provides some resources on breaking down your requirements so you know what to ask for out of your potential competitive intelligence tools.

CI Software Tool Vendor Evaluation Template

This template allows you to compare CI software tool vendors side-by-side in order to select the best vendor for your company.

Download the Tool


What Features Should You Be Thinking About?

There are numerous features that you should consider when vetting competitive intelligence software providers (hint: the CI Software Tool Vendor Evaluation Template above will help you capture many you haven't thought of!).

We've seen that some of the most commonly overlooked features in the research process include:

NLP-Based Automated Tagging

Finding a tool that use natural language processing to automatically tag and categorize all data as it enters the system greatly reduces the amount of manual effort analysts need to do to gather and organize data.

Read the Full Article

Custom Tagging

A system that combines the NSP-based automated tagging feature previously mentioned with the ability to add custom tags provides a "best of both worlds" approach in the battle of traditional taxonomies vs. automated tagging.

Read the Full Article

Vendor Management

Managing third party intelligence vendors is a huge pain point for most large competitive intelligence teams, particularly those that are decentralized across the organization. Consider a tool that helps manage the process.

Read the Full Article

Knowledge Management Features

The majority of the intelligence you need to fuel solid analysis lives within the minds, documents, emails, and chats of your own employees. Choosing a solution that has knowledge management features helps to catch all of that incredible data.

Read the Full Article

Collaboration Features

The sheer number of departments that make requests of the competitive intelligence team, and the speed at which key stakeholders and leadership need access to the analysis that comes out of your CI team make collaboration features an important part of any decision to implement a CI tool.

Read the Full Article

Analysis Tools

Considering which tools will be available to analysts visualize their work is another important factor. Often you'll look for tools that provide trendline analysis and tag clouds as well as those that have integrations with powerful visualization tools like Power BI or Tableau.

What Data Sources Should You Be Considering?

Make sure you've checked the boxes on all the data sources you'll need to stay on top of the competition.

Paid Data Sources

You'll want to make sure the tool you select gives you access to the premiere data sources that you currently pay for on individual subscriptions.

Global News Sources

Most competitive intelligence tools will pull in articles and news major media outlets.

Custom Feeds

You'll also want to confirm that your selected tool can pull in customized RSS feeds and Google Alerts if needed.

Field Intelligence

Make sure your chosen tool allows for the addition field intelligence in the data formats you need (e.g. emails, documents, etc.).

Custom Research Sources

Consider if your tool needs to integrate existing third-party data assets in real-time to support your team's needs.

Want an example?

Browse our extensive filterable list of all available data sources and integrations in Knowledge360.

View All Data Sources

Comparing Different Software Providers?

Our comparison series may help. You'll find when comparing market and competitive intelligence software tools, you aren't comparing apples to apples. Each tool is meant to do something different, so finding the one that meets your needs is the most important step.


Crayon is a good fit for organizations with a strong focus on the sales aspect of their competitive intelligence platform, and a specific desire to track competitor websites, that live within the mid-market size range.

Read the Full Article


Klue is a niche product that is built specifically for the needs of Enterprise B2B Sales teams, supports sales-specific competitor research, and is less focused on a general competitive intelligence function.

Read the Full Article


Intelligence2day is a good fit for companies looking to take a more manual or controlled approach to connecting content sources and managing taxonomies.

Read the Full Article

Market Logic

Market Logic is an incredibly powerful research tool, built for organizations that have a large research budget and team.

Read the Full Article


Quid is a good fit for organizations who need striking data visualizations and are comfortable with manual integrations of data sets.

Read the Full Article


Sharpr is one of the most advanced methods to take the “build your own” approach for your competitive intelligence data, and includes knowledge management features.

Read the Full Article


PitchBook is a favorite of venture capital firms, and is a great source of data for organizations in industries where M&A activity is very high.

Read the Full Article


Knowledge360 is a tool best suited for organizations with a dedicated competitive intelligence team in industries where strong regulations or high levels of competition are present, and collaboration across departments and disparate teams is very important.

Learn More


How a Top Insurance Company was Able to Outpace their Competition and Better Support Customers During COVID-19.

Learn how this insurance agency took advantage of the collaboration capabilities in Knowledge360 to provide real-time updates to their executive leadership and make key decisions in the face of a crisis.

Read the Case Study



Additional Resources

Here are some additional resources that may provide value as you are working on your decision to bring on a market and competitive intelligence tool.

Ready to Use RFP Template

This CI Software RFP Template will help you build a Request for Proposal that meets the unique needs of your organization.

Download the Template




Market and Competitive Intelligence Software Business Case Template

This market and competitive intelligence software template was created to help you build a business case for investing in a Market and Competitive Intelligence (M/CI) Software solution.

Download the Template

Ready to evolve the way you compete?

Let us show you how it looks to change the way intelligence is mobilized across your organization and transform the way your intelligence function operates.

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