Competitive Intelligence Your Colleagues Will Thank You For

Providing constructive competitive intelligence and insights requires a business manager to cater to the diverse needs of different end-users, from senior management to functional and geographical heads, in order to help a company achieve its overall business goal and direction.

Deciding exactly how to accomplish that can be a daunting task, particularly for any market intelligence team that in charge of gathering insights and market signals for growing organizations. Not only are companies growing into new markets or segments, change is also taking place at an ever accelerated pace.

How does one develop a market intelligence system that stays relevant? How does one get everyone’s buy-in? How should the market information be presented?

Here are six practical tips.

1. Involve all your stakeholders

Needless to say, one should keep two-way communications lines with the end-users open at all times. It is natural to face local resistance from other stakeholders and it is important to take their views into account, so they can become advocates later on. Offering them some level of customization is one practical option and conducting a comprehensive stakeholder needs analysis is another.

It is also critical to keep the development process transparent to your markets, especially as the company expands internationally.

2. Align with business goals

Always maintain a future orientation in your perspective on how your market intelligence system should develop and keep it aligned with your overall business goals and corporate strategy.

Build your market intelligence around the decision points though open dialogue and through needs analysis conducted jointly by the intelligence team and the decision-makers themselves.

Interpreting market signals and analyses from both a negative and positive perspective will increase the strategic value of the market intelligence you deliver. The early warning and opportunity perspective will also provide a framework for assessing the relative importance of different developments in the operational environment of the company.

3. Integrate with other internal systems

Much market intelligence is available internally and can be pulled into the system you are developing. At times, it may be as simple as utilizing ’dashboard views to bring data together within a corporate portal for business decision-makers.

Here is a sample list of the systems to check internally.

Functions Owners Information/Systems available
Customer Relationship Management Sales and marketing Customer Information

  • Market size
  • Growth and development
  • Customer visit reports
  • Customer details

Competitor Information

  • Strategies
  • Profiles
  • Market size and development

External research and reports, RSS feeds

IPR Legal, research & development Competitor patent information Intellectual property rights
Technology IT IntranetCompany portals

Microsoft SharePoint

Document management systems

Financial planning Accounting Financial data 

4. Make the deliverables as visual as possible

Use graphs, dashboards and scorecards to visualize the analytical output of the market intelligence process as opposed to delivering results in plain text and figures. Beware that producing insightful visuals requires time, highly analytical thinking and a solid understanding of the company’s business fundamentals.

5. Get groups going

Nothing beats teamwork and group analysis. The greatest strategic value is typically created in groups of decision-makers and intelligence professionals. More and more, market intelligence will be presented in the form of briefings, workshops, and informal discussions.

6. Measure, measure, measure

Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the need to keep track of the benefits of their market intelligence systems. Success stories should be communicated and direct feedback solicited.

Needs change, organizations scale up or down and the external operating environment never remains the same. Ensuring that your organization’s market intelligence system is well integrated and up-to-date takes ongoing effort. It will help to always keep these six points in mind.

© 2010 – 2014, Jouko Virtanen. All rights reserved.

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