Competitive Intelligence is a comprehensive and a systematic process of gathering and analyzing data in order to develop insights so that an organization can carry out its tasks effectively. However, a better way to look at it is that competitive intelligence is a process that makes your business more competitive in achieving its goals.
Hence competitive intelligence is not just about dealing with competition but it’s also about improving your business. Yet competition still has a huge impact on achieving your tasks because businesses focus not only on crossing the line. In fact, business focuses on crossing the line first.
Competitive Intelligence research is about mapping the competitive landscape. Once this is achieved, obstacles and hurdles can be taken care of using strategies and effective planning. However, we must understand what a competitive landscape is before we can understand the role of competitive intelligence for businesses and companies.
Navigating Competitive Landscape
Imagine a scenario where you are to run through an obstacle course. Your objective is to successfully tackle all the hurdles and obstacles and finish in the shortest amount of time. This is not all, you must finish in the shortest amount of time in comparison to other athletes. And then you will make it through to the finish line successfully.
A business or a company has to go through a similar path in order to thrive. For a business a competitive landscape consists of regulatory hurdles, trade issues and insufficiencies. Businesses are to deal with their own incompetence, mismanagements and struggles.
Furthermore, the external environment is complex and always evolving. There are shifts in market trends, political situations, economic issues and technological changes. These are uncertainties that affect business in the long run and often in the short run as well.
However, this is not all. Companies have to deal with competition that could possibly disrupt our business objectives. Moreover, competition is a threat to business as it puts the market share at risk. Businesses constantly worry about losing customers. In fact business have to worry about competitors gaining customers because that leads to market domination.
Competitors are much more complex than just being organizations working in the same market. Competitors can pose direct or indirect threats to the business. Direct threats are usually acute risks while indirect threats have a longer and subsequent impact.
Businesses also need to understand the nature of threats posed by competitors. Some competitors have huge resources but have lesser ability to adapt to new circumstances. While some competitors are agile and quick to adapt to new situations.
In order for a business to understand these threats, they must develop insights into the functionality of their competitors. In order to deal with these threats, businesses not only need to understand the competitive advantage but also need to understand how competitors are able to achieve that.
Moreover, in order to develop more effective tactics and strategies, Businesses need to take into account the external environment. This includes both which affect the whole industry including all competitors. As well as changes that affect the business more uniquely.
Hence here is where competitive intelligence comes in. Competitive intelligence is the most useful tool that companies can use in order to deal with competition as well as account for obstacles and changes in the way.
Competitive intelligence collects data in order to navigate the competitive landscape. This data may be secondary data. Secondary data is collected from books, newspapers, articles, blogs and statistics that are available. These are provided by sources and researches that are conducted by outside parties.
However, in order for businesses to have more comprehensive review business turn towards primary data. Primary information is collected by talking to industry experts, competitor’s former employees, vendors and customers. These are the people who have direct information about the ongoing situation.
Industry experts are people who have authority over knowledge of everything that is happening in the industry. These people can not only serve as information providers but also guide towards business decisions.
Competitors’ former employees have valuable inside information into the situation of competitors standing. This is however not an unethical conduct as former employees are off the contract and can practice their independence.
Vendors have unique insights about the industry. To vendors, a business’s industry is the customer market. Hence, they have proper understanding about a business’s market because their focus is to serve the wants and needs of this industry. Information can be gathered from these providers to navigate the competitive landscape.
Customers are the ones at the receiving end of your industry’s products and services. They are the utmost priority of any business. Entire businesses function to provide for these wants and needs. Customers hold vital information about growing demands and their preferences. This has the power to change the whole landscape of how businesses function.
Ethical guidelines for Competitive Intelligence
The purpose of competitive advantage is not to gather information illegally. Competitive intelligence is a legal practice so that businesses may flourish by improving their value proposition. It serves to provide for the needs of customers by building a comprehensive understanding of everything involved.
Competitive intelligence is not industrial sabotage where information is gathered illegally or through unethical means. It uses available information or information achieved through detailed research.
Companies often hire third party researchers to conduct their research. When data is gathered through primary and secondary methods it is filtered, analyzed and interpreted into information. This information is used to build recommendations for future planning. This does not involve any illegal activity or misconduct.
Competitive intelligence does not involve corporate spying, influencing competitors’ decisions through unethical means or obstruction in the path of the competitor. Competitive Intelligence professionals announce their objectives and their purpose while gathering information.
Intelligence professionals follow the law in their practices. This is a complete code that ensures that nothing illegal is taking place. Furthermore, professionals show integrity and honesty in their work. They keep records of their activities in order to be fair and accountable for their practices.