In very few companies are market and competitive intelligence relegated to a single department. Gathering information about your industry, customers, and competitors, analyzing it, and sharing that information inside and outside of your organization many times is a shared responsibility. This post covers the value of accelerating secondary research.
Each group has different research goals, and each approaches their intelligence seeking from a different perspective. One thing is clear, though – with the pace of business today, it’s critical for all involved in these activities to uncover information as rapidly as possible, without compromising the integrity of what’s collected.
Why is that? Because smart business decisions are driven by data. To make solid choices, business leaders must have accurate and timely information to draw from to build their case. The relevance and veracity of that information are key. Mountains of data won’t lead to a good business decision if that information is irrelevant or incorrect.
Getting the right information when you need it can be rough, especially when it comes to secondary research. There are millions of pieces of content published on the internet every day. So what is the value of quickly getting to the key nuggets of information dispersed across a vast landscape?
Different types of market and competitive intelligence research
There are two types of research that anyone digging into market and competitive intelligence can do.
The first is primary research. This is research that you do or you hire someone to do specifically for you. It involves directly sourcing information from your targets. Examples include:
- Customer interviews
- Focus groups
- Direct observations
Depending on your needs you may do general, open-ended exploratory research, or you may be focused on specific research to answer questions to solve a particular problem.
The second is secondary research. This is a review of information that has been collected and published by others. This can include:
- Survey results
- Studies and reports
- Press releases
- Research papers
- Trade journals
- Industry association publications
Secondary research can also include internal information gathered that may not have been initially intended as market research. For example, a report that shows the most common questions asked of a help desk bot on your website might inform new product enhancements.
Most secondary research is widely available and typically less expensive than primary research. It can be done as easily as typing keywords into Google. However, that kind of research can be massively overwhelming and the results can be correspondingly underwhelming. And while secondary research can cost less in hard dollars, the opportunity cost can be substantial.
The challenge of secondary research
There are several challenges to secondary research, but there are two that are the most significant: the potential for missed information and time.
It isn’t about finding information, but about finding the right information in amongst the terabytes of irrelevant and even outdated content available. It isn’t about seeing the forest for the trees – it’s about finding one or two special trees in the midst of a sprawling forest. It’s easy to miss the one tree that holds the answers you’re looking for.
Worse, we have a tendency to look at the same sources again and again, because they produced valuable information once, or because they are highly regarded. However, major information sources are rarely the ones that break industry news. Secondary research should pull from a variety of sources, even topically localized and specialized, and those can be easy to look past.
Time is the other major challenge that marketing and competitive research professionals face, and in this context time is a double enemy. First, it’s nearly impossible to parse the piles of information that is produced daily. Leaving aside validating sources and ensuring that the information is credible, simply finding quality data is time-consuming.
The second, and arguably more important concern is that to be useful, the information you uncover must be as close to the time of generation as possible to give the biggest benefit. Finding out about a new competing product near its release gives you some time to plan a response. Finding out about it six weeks after release puts your organization in catchup mode.
Compelling reasons to accelerate secondary market and competitive intelligence research
With those challenges in mind, it can be pretty apparent that you need to accelerate your secondary research as much as possible, and planning your research without taking these challenges into account results in wasted time, blindspots, and missed opportunities.
There are many reasons why you should rev up your secondary research. Here are just a few:
The speed of business today is magnitudes faster than it was even 10 years ago. To stay ahead of the competition, businesses need to be able to make informed decisions, quickly. Data analysis is important, and the growth of no-code applications and the democratization of corporate data have offered organizations the ability to understand their own information rapidly and with less friction.
But internal data is only one input to decision-making. Secondary research and available content provide the opportunities for insights and context that decision-making requires. Accelerating internal data analysis is only one piece of the puzzle. Understanding the larger market you operate in – and understanding it today, not tomorrow – gives leaders the foundation to act on the data in front of them.
Shifting Market Conditions
No one needs to tell companies that have been in business for the last 3 years that market conditions can change quickly. The ability to act and react as lockdowns happened and the pandemic spread separated agile businesses from those that struggled to survive.
Understanding the business environment and what is driving change in the market are important elements to making smart and timely responses to those changes. The ability to react quickly to market conditions won’t go away as things get back to normal. Instead, it will be the status quo to grasp new opportunities as they arise and be able to adapt. If research lags significantly, companies will not be able to keep up.
Even leaving aside the information needs in a rapidly changing world, few organizations have the luxury of paying team members to spend days wading through content. The information must be valuable, but it must also be unearthed quickly. That means research must be laser-focused to bring to light meaningful and relevant content that can be synthesized into purposeful and actionable insights.
Disruption, especially in our digital world, is happening on a daily basis. More importantly, it rarely comes at a business directly. Most often, discoveries and innovations in adjacent markets are the ones that drive these disruptions. It wasn’t some innovation in video technology that drove Blockbuster out of business, it was the wide availability of high-speed internet. It wasn’t the digital camera that disrupted Kodak, it was a combination of short-sighted business decisions and the continued physical shrinking of digital storage mediums.
Companies need to be faster at secondary research because they need to be casting their net wider and finding the new products and technologies that can be game-changers for their industry.
It’s time to speed up your secondary research
Accelerating market and competitive intelligence secondary research is important across your organization, from sales to product marketing and development, to corporate strategy. Teams engaging in research need tools that will help them find important information, understand adjacent markets and share insights derived from what’s been found.
Cronycle can be a critical tool in your secondary research tool chest. By leveraging a human expertise network that spans over 80,000 topics, and scaling that with industry-leading AI, our platform can help you speed secondary research while supporting insight development, collaboration, and stakeholder communication and engagement. Interested in finding out more? Schedule a discovery call with our team to see if Cronycle is the right platform for your market and competitive intelligence functions.