Competitive Intelligence Solution: Challenges, Features, Impact
Selecting a competitive intelligence solution is hard. Indeed, it is a crucial aspect of any business that wants to stay ahead of its rivals.
Competitive Intelligence involves the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information about competitors, markets, and industry trends. Its objective is no less than to help organizations make tactical and strategic decisions. However, many companies struggle with the challenge of collecting, managing, and using the vast amounts of data available to them.
As a result, a growing number of organizations are turning to competitive intelligence solutions to stay ahead of the game. As mentioned in our post about The 2023 Gartner® Market Guide for Competitive and Market Intelligence Tools for Technology and Service Providers:
In this page here, we’ll try to guide you on what makes a good competitor intelligence solution for you. We describe common challenges our competitive intelligence (CI) customers face, what a good competitor intelligence tool looks like, and what outcomes it should provide.
Most common challenges
Pressure to be fast
The pressure to be fast in today’s business environment is driven by a number of factors. Reasons include the increasing speed of technological advancements, the intense global competition, and the ever-changing consumer demands and geopolitical conditions. In particular, the ability to make quick decisions is becoming increasingly important. Companies that are able to quickly adapt to changes in the market and consumer preferences are more likely to stay ahead of their competitors. The pressure to be fast is real, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Companies that are not able to keep up with these changes risk falling behind their competitors and losing market share.
Information and source overload
With so much data available, it can be overwhelming to determine what is relevant and what is not. As a result, many companies are struggling to make sense of the data they have, leading to wasted time and resources. Sadly, this is true of companies using unsuitable competitive intelligence solutions and processes.
In addition, competitive intelligence team members may not have access to the right information for their specific needs, which vary across roles. A product manager looking for a competitor’s weak points in order to position the language describing her product’s strengths doesn’t need the same data as an SEO manager.
Also, CI teams need to monitor a massive range of information sources, from social media to articles, press releases, reviews, newsletters and reports. Many of these are only accessible in their original platform. As a result, in many cases, researchers and analysts rely on multiple tools to cover the range of sources necessary. Competitive intelligence mining is among the main difficulties.
Missing out on emerging topics and sources
Organizations struggle to keep up-to-date via internally produced reports. Instead, we see the most nimble organizations spend a significant focus on externally sourced instant updates. But, with new competitors, technologies and regulations emerging all the time, it is very hard to keep track of the latest developments. Indeed, not keeping track of emerging sources of information leads to a lack of understanding of how these factors are impacting the industry. It becomes too difficult for teams to anticipate and prepare for future developments and trends. Eventually, it leads to a failure to identify new opportunities for growth and expansion. Over time, the gap between the company’s offering and market needs will increase, making it increasingly difficult to catch up. This downward spiral usually leads to a decline in market share and revenue, and a loss of leadership in the industry.
Fragmented repositories and lack of collaboration (redundancy at best, divergent perspectives at worst)
We’ve seen many companies struggle with implementing and maintaining a centralized repository of information. In practice, fragmented repositories lead to a lack of collaboration across silos within an organization. Naturally, when information is stored in multiple, disconnected systems, it becomes difficult for employees to access and share relevant data. Sadly, this leads to silos of information. When this happens, different departments have access to different sets of data, leading to incoherence and inefficiency in decision making.
For example, one team may be unaware of a competitor’s new product launch or of a regulatory change because the information was only stored in a different department’s system. Or the sales teams may address an emerging pain point in a particular way not reinforced by product marketing materials.
In order to avoid these issues, it’s important for organizations to implement a centralized and integrated competitive intelligence solution. It should allow for easy access and sharing of data across all teams.
Lack of impact validation
A lack of impact validation is a significant challenge for many organizations after adopting a competitive intelligence platform. Impact validation is the process of measuring the effectiveness of the intelligence provided. It helps to determine how valuable it is to make tactical and strategic business decisions. Without this step, it can be difficult to understand the true value of the intelligence and how it is impacting success.
Additionally, little to no field validation can also be a problem for many organizations. Field validation is the process of receiving feedback from the recipients of the intelligence. It is particularly important to know how the intelligence is being used by sales reps and how it influences deals and prospects. Without this, organizations may not have a clear understanding of how the intelligence is being applied in the field, and if it is actually providing value.
What a good competitive intelligence solution looks like
Real-time market intelligence alerts
A good competitor intelligence solution should have the ability to monitor the latest developments in real-time. It should enable companies to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and information. For this, it needs to notify users of important changes and developments, for example via market intelligence alerts.
With so much data available, CI teams need a system to filter out irrelevant information and focus on what’s important. In this respect, artificial intelligence is making huge progress and helps to filter in the most relevant information. However, be aware of the high risk of competitor intelligence solutions that close their users in information bubbles. Intelligence software that learns from users’ past actions without providing control make it very hard to identify emerging trends. Adjusting the course of action becomes a challenge. You need to stay in control of how you filter information.
An effective competitor intelligence architecture should have the ability to identify new sources of information and emerging trends that may not have been identified previously. Thankfully, artificial intelligence and knowledge graphs are helpful for such competitive intelligence mining. For example, the Cronycle expertise network surfaces reliable information from trustworthy sources shared by communities in around 80k topics. This content is published across millions of sources, many without RSS.
A competitor intelligence tool should be able to identify new sources of information and emerging trends not identified previously. The objective is for the overall process to become more efficient and effective at producing insightful intelligence. Artificial intelligence is great at dealing with scale and reach, at high speed. This is particularly relevant when sourcing information and dealing with the overwhelm of information. However, when it comes to extracting insights, humans must be in the loop if not in control. People know the company’s context and objectives best and they are capable of critical thought. We consider AIs as empowerment, not replacement of human intelligence.
Integrating into stakeholders’ workflow is critical too. Libraries filled with long reports have become too awkward and slow. Insightful intelligence in a fast-pace environment is an easily searchable repository with short and actionable insights. As a result, make sure that surfacing the important insights is part of the solution you adopt. With Cronycle, you get a special insights view and the workflow focuses on the extraction of actionable insights.
Collaborative competitor intelligence tools
With different teams and departments working independently, it is important to have a collaborative workspace. This is where information can be collected and discussed. To engage different silos in shared competitor intelligence tools, the workspace needs to support a generic secondary research workflow. While product marketing, product innovation, sales enablement and strategy teams all have slightly different requirements, they have a common fundamental need to find and extract insights. Discussions between teams should be easy within the workspace, with few walls. Read our article on the value of knowledge flows to learn more about this important point.
Integrations to distribute
The competitive intelligence platform you select should be able to integrate with other systems and platforms. Thick and quickly outdated competitive intelligence reports are a thing of the past. Instead, information must be easily distributed across teams and departments. Integrations should work with communication, CRM, marketing and business intelligence platforms to make the process of disseminating information efficient. Cronycle offers many integrations for market and competitive intelligence.
We’ve prepared this checklist to help you find the right Competitive Intelligence Solution:
Real-time market intelligence alerts
Please check our comparator of market and competitive intelligence platforms.
Other aspects to consider
A good competitive intelligence solution should be able to scale and adapt to the changing needs of the organization. As a company grows and expands, the solution should be able to handle the increased volume of data and users.
The platform should be able to protect sensitive information and ensure that it is only accessible to authorized users.
Your tool should be customizable to meet the specific needs of the organization. This can include customizing the interface, adding new data sources, and creating custom reports.
Business analytics and visualization
The CI solution should have advanced data analytics and visualization capabilities. These should help users make sense of the data, identify key insights and help assess field validation.
Competitive intelligence platforms should have mobile access to allow users to access and update information on-the-go.
Support and training
Enterprise tools should come with a dedicated support team and training resources. These need to both help users get the most out of the solution and set up efficient workflows.
Outcomes of adopting the right competitive intelligence platform
There are many benefits when implementing a good competitive intelligence program with a relevant CI platform. Here are a few-
- Improved deal activity
- Proactivity on new opportunities
- Relevant content that helps close deals
- Resonating conversation points in product marketing
- Informed decisions for product innovation and strategy teams
- Shared and up-to-date awareness of the market
Improved deal activity
Thanks to the latest information and trends, organizations can make more informed decisions and close deals more quickly. This ultimately leads to increased revenue and growth.
Having a competitive intelligence solution in place can lead to higher win rates. With the ability to monitor and analyze competitor’s strategies, pricing, and sales tactics, organizations can develop more effective sales strategies. Indeed, they can tailor their approach to the specific needs of each potential client. This can lead to a higher likelihood of closing deals and winning new business.
Adopting a CI platform can also lead to an increase in contract values. By having a better understanding of the market and the specific needs of potential clients, organizations can negotiate more favorable terms and secure higher contract values. Additionally, by identifying new opportunities and emerging markets, organizations can also expand their revenue streams.
Retention rates can also be improved with a competitive intelligence platform and planning. A clear view of the market and client needs also helps companies develop more effective retention strategies. They can more easily tailor their approach to the specific needs of each client. This can lead to a higher likelihood of retaining existing business and maintaining strong relationships with clients.
Proactivity on new opportunities
With real-time monitoring and intelligence, organizations can be proactive in their approach, rather than reactive. For example, sales reps use the data to identify new potential customers before they even come to the market. We’ve also seen sales teams successfully monitor existing customers to engage earlier than their competitors. For example, they engage when a new funding or budget has been announced, not when RFPs are issued. This allows them to influence the opportunity. Another example, we had a customer monitor land sales and allocations with particular zoning approvals to identify new business opportunities.
Equally, strategy and product innovation teams are a lot less likely to play catch up if they monitor competitors’ investments in technology, acquisitions and hiring. These indicate up-coming moves that can impact the market. Being informed earlier makes it possible to build a strong strategy to differentiate and compete successfully without falling behind.
Relevant content that helps close deals
With access to the latest information, sales teams can create more engaging and relevant content to help close deals. Using market and competitive intelligence information, sales reps can have a deeper understanding of the specific needs of each prospect. They can also discover the strategies, tactics, strengths and weaknesses of their competitors. This can enable them to tailor their approach, making them more effective in their sales efforts. Knowledge also increases empathy, resulting in trust – an important factor in purchase decision making.
Resonating conversation points in product marketing
Using updated information, product marketing teams can create more relevant and engaging content to promote their products. In fact, both sales and product marketing teams can craft messaging that differentiates their products or services from competitors. And they can provide relevant examples and case studies that align with the prospect’s specific needs. This can lead to more meaningful and effective email marketing and sales conversations, and a higher likelihood of closing deals.
Informed decisions for product innovation and strategy teams
With real-time information about competitors, markets, and industry trends, product innovation and strategy teams make more informed decisions for their investments, products and services.
For instance, they can identify new opportunities and emerging markets that may not have been identified previously. This can lead to the development of new products and services that meet the specific needs of these markets. This in turn leads to increased revenue streams and growth. Real-time information about industry trends makes it easier to make sure that products and services are aligned with the latest trends. To better address the needs of their customers, many product teams use personas which benefit greatly from secondary research.
Additionally, a better understanding of competitors’ strategies and tactics help product innovation and strategy teams develop more effective competitive strategies. They can identify the strengths and weaknesses of their competitors and better differentiate their products and services from the competition. This can lead to a competitive advantage and a stronger market position.
Shared and up-to-date awareness of the market
By having a centralized and collaborative platform, all teams within the organization have access to the same information. They can stay up-to-date with market trends, which leads to better decision making and a stronger competitive position. Indeed, having a shared and up-to-date awareness of the market fosters collaboration and communication across teams. This leads to a more cohesive and aligned organization.
A good competitive intelligence solution can help organizations stay ahead of the competition. It provides real-time monitoring, relevance-based filtering, discovery engine, collaborative workspace, intelligent workflow, and integrations to distribute. With the right competitor intelligence tool, organizations can improve deal activity and be proactive rather than reactive. They can create more engaging marketing strategy and content for sales teams and sales enablement. They can have engaging conversation points for product marketing, and make informed product innovation and strategy decisions. All this thanks to a shared and up-to-date awareness of the market. With the constant change and competition in today’s business environment, a competitive intelligence platform can be a valuable asset for any organization looking to stay ahead of the game.