first appeared in Profit magazine
One of the business catchphrases over the past few years has been Competitive Intelligence: the process that transforms information into relevant, accurate and usable strategic knowledge about competitors, position, performance, capabilities and intentions. CI, as it’s broadly known, doesn’t use illegal methods to accomplish its goals. Rather, CI uses publicly available databases to figure out your present and future business environment. Rate your Competitive Intelligence with the following quiz:
Have you assigned an employee - and given him or her a budget - for collecting and analyzing competitive intelligence?
Are your CI data collection efforts focused primarily on gathering historical competitive information from secondary sources, or are they mostly concentrated on soliciting future-oriented information from a well-developed network of internal and external sources?
Do you monitor the internet for blogs or other websites that may be posting disinformation that is injurious to your company’s reputation?
Do you confuse competitor watching - collecting data on your competition - with real CI i.e., developing an external focus that provides strategic early warnings about market shifts and risk control, and also to uncover new opportunities?
Does your CI team examine all aspects of your business: sales, marketing, product development, and strategic planning, or is it selectively focused to the exclusion of other areas of equal importance?
Is your CI distributed selectively and appropriately throughout the company such by email or intranet, or does the information languish on someone’s desktop?
Do you only rely on traditional CI or do you look at in broader market intelligence such as regulatory changes, technology trends, and other strategic scenarios within your industry?
Does your company waste time and money because your company lacks an enterprise-wide coordinated CI effort and so different departments are collecting the same information?
Are your CI efforts focused on growth opportunities of high interest to management, offering the best margins or growth potential? For example, is your CI group working with your market research group to identify customer segments that have high demand for your products or services and a limited choice of competitive offerings from which to choose?
When your CI group finishes collecting information, does it simply organize the information, or does the group generate value-added content, such as judgments, opinions, hypotheses, predictions, implications for your company, and strategic recommendations?
Does your CI group meet regularly with your senior executives to gather their intelligence needs and feedback on how it can improve the intelligence process and deliverables for these executives?