Competitive Intelligence Process
Competitive Intelligence (CI) is a process that not many companies seriously consider but all of them can benefit from its accomplishments. Competitive intelligence utilizes multiple different channels to gather data. This data is provided as a resource that enables the recipient to make more educated business decisions. This information isn’t always collected from direct competitors of the specific business in question, information is also gathered from indirect competitors and the overall environment of the industry at hand.
Reporting on competitive intelligence can offer the insight needed for any given business to make informed decisions. Whether it be making sure they don’t make they same mistakes as a competitor, knowing if an emerging technology is a serious threat or just a passing trend, or learning if those expansion plans are as good an idea as they seem. By knowing where your competitors are at and how the current industry landscape is shaping, your company can be supported by substantial data to make sure you defuse any upcoming threats or take advantage of any obscure opportunities.
The competitive intelligence process has multiple steps to ensure that we are providing all of the vital information you need. ArchIntel specializes in competitive intelligence and reporting information, we are not initially experts in your industry. In order to give you highly informative information we need to be highly informed as well. This means we spend time getting to know your business and industry in order to know exactly where to look. This isn’t a simple process, but it is one that is highly rewarding in our end goal of providing you with the best information we can find.
There are six main steps in the competitive intelligence process. These steps are to identify competitors, identify areas of concern, gather information, analyze the information found, report on the findings, and make a decision based on the results of competitive intelligence. There is a lot to consider with each of these steps but giving the proper care and attention to each step allows for both us at ArchIntel and our clients to have a successful experience.
Step One: Identifying Competitors
The first step in competitive intelligence is identifying competitors. These preliminary stages may seem obvious, but they are necessary for letting us know where to start our research. This step also includes finding out more about your industry and its size. Is your industry reach small or large? Competitors who are of similar size and location are we’d like to focus on mainly because their actions most directly effect your business and can reflect better as a sample of your industry as a whole.
This isn’t to say that we won’t look at competitors outside of this segmentation. While you may already be aware of and keeping an eye on your direct competitors it’s important to know about any newcomers who might be starting up or expanding into your market as well as some bigger players who might become more of a threat as your business grows.
Knowing which competitors to base our research off of gives us specific companies to look into but it also gives us different avenues of information to consider. We know that all businesses do not operate the same. Given the culture, size, and outreach of each industry we know where we should focus our research efforts. If your industry is big enough that you and your competitors are publicly traded it would be in our best interest to compare stock index information. Likewise if you and your competitors are not publicly traded it wouldn’t be the best use of our time to look at those sources.
Step Two: Identifying Areas of Concern
Once we have gotten to learn a little bit more about your industry and your competitors, we can start to narrow our plan for analysis down to specific areas of interest. If there are any initially areas of concern that your business is concerned with, we can make those priorities. Knowing what to identify as a key concern will help us narrow our search. Of course, as we find different pieces of information, we can come across areas of concern that weren’t thought of at this stage. We will be sure to address these finding in our final report.
With so many different avenues of information available we can’t cover everything, in a relevant timeframe. Making sure that we have vital information is our top priority but if we spend too long on the research stage some of that information may become outdated and opportunities may disappear.
Step Three: Gather Information
Now we are finally ready to get to the real research. There are many different areas of competitive intelligence that we investigate in order to formulate our research reports. These components of competitive intelligence are all different areas of interest when it comes to researching competitors. The components of competitive intelligence are as follows:
Competitors in the News
Competitor Human Capital Movement
Competitor Job Listings: New Positions
Trade Show News
Social Media Review
These components are all of the different resources that we explore while gathering information. As stated before, depending on the kind of industry you are in and the themes shared between you and your competitors, we may focus on one of these areas more than others. There isn’t one component of competitive intelligence that is more important than another, but certain components might not be relevant to certain client’s research. If your industry doesn’t use social media to reach its consumers it wouldn’t be in our best interest to spend time researching in this area.
Our research covers as many public resources as we access. From social media accounts to trade show announcements we can find the newest updates. By looking at competitor’s websites we can find out some of the information that might not be publicized as heavily. Seeing if a competitor is looking to hire new workers with specific skills at a new location can be a key into the fact that they are looking to expand.
Step Four: Analyzing our Research
By taking the information we have found we can start to piece together the narrative of what is up and coming in your industry. By seeing which new technologies are being implemented or if new competitors are gaining market share, we can map out where everyone currently stands in your industry.
The most valuable thing about looking for information from multiple different resources is that you can start to notice patterns. If a competitor is looking for market research from its customers via their website or social media and they start to hire new employees that have different skills from their existing workforce, while also acquiring new resources or facilities it is a clear trend that they are looking to expand their business.
In this analysis stage we can start to formulate some potential strategies for handling these changes. No company is invincible to change, and all industries evolve, shifting their methods and practices to accommodate new technologies and consumer preferences. Many companies fail because they lack the ability to adapt. The main goal of competitive intelligence is to provide companies with the knowledge to prognosticate a solution. It is inevitable that your industry will change but it is up to you to determine how intensely that will affect your operations.
Step Five: Report Our Findings
This is the step where you finally get to see all of the work we have done. With all the information we have found it can be hard to get a full grasp of it all. That is why we create a clear and concise competitive intelligence report that you can use to view all of our findings. Making sure information is categorized well and easy to find is almost as important as the information itself. We hope that this report can lead its usefulness to your company more than just once and one of the ways to ensure that is to make the information clear and available.
Step Six: Making Decisions Based on the Results
Now that the information is in your hands you can do with it what you please. Whether you are working on making decisions with our recommendations or with your team, this is where real action takes place. Decision making can be a hard task, but we hope that our information will ease that burden. We also know that making big changes at any company often takes persuasion and committee approval. By having a thorough report that covers all of the opportunities and threats that face your company from your competitors we hope you can make the changes you wish to see. It helps to have hard evidence when facing a board of executives or shareholders, hesitant to change practices.
Whether these changes are big or small, we hope that our findings can be of benefit to your company. Making any changes, even ones you are excited about, can be intense and often are met with a lot of uncertainty. By being informed, we hope you can feel confident about where to take your company in the future. These kinds of improvements are made with the vested interest of your company’s future in mind. By ensuring your company is around to face the problems of the future we know our competitive intelligence has been of value.