Would it help to have the tools to create a successful Competitive Intelligence function? In this article, we are going to come at this subject from a different direction. If Competitive Intelligence thinking has taught us anything, it’s to look at things from more than one angle. So, rather than five things to do to make Competitive Intelligence function successful. We offer our thoughts on what Competitive Intelligence mishaps can reduce the value of your operation? Here are eight to be getting on with:

1. Need to know and nice to know
Pretty early on, your Competitive Intelligence function needs to impress decision-makers. And make them realise your value to the organisation.

It is essential to focus on the “must knows”, and the “need to knows”. And not the “nice to knows” Avoid tactical issues like someone else’s Covid face mask. You may get success with tactical topics, and the nice to knows. But if they don’t have strategic value, then decision-makers will question the function. Knowing the price someone paid for a single product may be interesting. But understanding their entire pricing strategy is so much more powerful.

A sign that you may be producing at a tactical level are comments from leaders like. “Hum that’s interesting” before moving onto something else. Critical “need to know” Competitive Intelligence has power. To act as if a football has hit them on the back of their head. They are going to take notice and want to take action and want to know more. Like who kicked that blinking ball! (and why?)

2. Let the data guys manage the function
Attach Competitive Intelligence into a non-front line function. Or give it to the data analysts to work on it. Or give it to a Sales Director who makes it in their lead collector. Tasked to provide the sales team with some more opportunity. It may sound like this could not happen, but it does. This is when the Competitive function is diluted to extreme tactical work. Diluting the work is extremely dangerous. The value will suffer. Sooner or later, an intern will have the job to Google competitors on a Friday afternoon. Or replace them with some software to make their collection easier. Competitive Intelligence should be just a sales and marketing tool. It has to be the strategic enabler.

3. Competitors
There is another sure-fire way to not extract as much value out of a function. By just focusing on competitors. Remember, it’s called Competitive Intelligence and not Competitor Intelligence. Only Concentrating on competitors means you miss out on the total business environment. An opportunity to understand how it is changing. And using this know-how to make better business decisions.

What is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is the finding, sorting and critical analysis of information. To make sense of what’s happening and why. Predict what’s going to happen and give the options to help you control the outcome. Competitive intelligence offers certainty, competitive advantage, insight, growth & security.
4. Focus on undifferentiated information
Collecting information is part of the traditional and alternative Intelligence cycle. It’s the easiest thing to do.

It’s accessible, effortless to accumulate information. Many people confuse getting lots of information about something as Intelligence. With this activity, all you get is lots of information. It’s so much harder to gain Insight when you are swamped with information. Less Insight could mean less value to your Competitive Intelligence function.

5. Trusted and credible
People within your Competitive Intelligence team must be credible and trusted. The team must be approachable and have excellent people skills. Ideally, you have people in your group who don’t sit and wait for information to come in. They go and walk around the offices and operations and asking for it. And asking how they can help them. Most information needed to do your job will come from people within your organisation. Intelligence teams have to go and speak to those who hold the data or know where to find it. Your Competitive Intelligence function has to be trusted and valued for its insights. Without that credibility, information, reports and associated analysis will be ignored.

6. Too much information
Just getting on with collecting information is often a mistake. A Competitive Intelligence team needs to know what the senior management team wants. What the management team wanted last week is probably not what they want this week. Don’t fall into the trap of providing a formatted board Intelligence report. With never changing titles and questions month in mouth out. Don’t filter the information you are finding either. Something of interest should be shared. Over time you will learn what’s appreciated and what’s not. Regular clarification of needs is essential to ensure you enhance your value.

7. Measure success
A Competitive Intelligence team is an overhead to the business. And questions about value will need answers. Without measuring your function’s impact on the company puts you in danger. Those who don’t see the value (or want to spend that value on something else) can argue to reduce your function. A Competitive Intelligence team has to seek regular qualitative-quantitative feedback. From all the various groups to show the impact on the bottom line.

8. Too much focus on tech
The trap Competitive Intelligence functions fall into is their desire for technology solutions. Intelligence is a mix of technology and people. Without the people, there is no Intelligence. Despite what you may have been told, technology is only currently used to collect information. But we see Competitive Intelligence functions trying to build their platform. Or investing in Competitive Intelligence software.

What Competitive Intelligence Mishaps
Great stuff. But not the answer. It does not sort the vital aspect of Intelligence out. Analysis and the subsequent Insight. Too often, businesses buy software, learn how to use it and then it gets forgotten about as no one wants it. No one reads it. This is a fact of life. People don’t read everything put in front of them. They will have something more important to do. No one reads it, so the value of the Intelligence software is questioned. Competitive Intelligence companies don’t want this either as they will suffer significant customer churn.

What Competitive Intelligence mishaps can reduce the value of your operation?
This post was called, what Competitive Intelligence mishaps can reduce the value of your operation? We hope you will isolate some tips to make your function so much more productive and valued.

Author's Bio: 

We love finding stuff out and answering questions. Looking at what's going to happen in our clients competitive world.

Octopus is a Competitive Intelligence & Strategy consulting firm creating certainty, insight, competitive advantage & growth. We Answer the questions when you just need to know.