Competitive Intelligence

In this article we'll be covering :

  • What constitutes Competitive Intelligence (CI)
  • 4 key ways to acquire Competitive Intelligence
  • How to leverage CI for your business
  • Competitive Intelligence tools and solutions
  • KnowledgeHub delivering Competitive Intelligence
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A Comprehensive Guide to Competitive Intelligence

Information and market intelligence are indispensable assets that every company depends on for making important business decisions, from innovation and production to marketing and sales activities. The teams handling marketing and sales need to be able to view the big picture before they draw up strategies for their respective activities.

They require a complete understanding of market conditions, customer preferences, competitors’ offerings, and the performance of both their and the competitors’ offerings in the current market. It is the collection of this information and the analysis of the same, that offer insights capable of interpreting market disruptions and events, and anticipating the business activities of competitors. These insights put together constitute Competitive Intelligence (CI), the foundation for building successful business strategies.

Not only does it enable them to have superior marketing and sales planning, but business decisions taken thereafter are based on actionable insights gained through analytics, minimizing risks from both internal decision-making and external developments that may disrupt the market.

Understanding Market and Competitive Intelligence

The aforementioned concept improves on just CI by focusing the insights from a marketing perspective, helping shape market strategies, and driving product innovation. It is not just about how well your product offer service is faring in the market and where your competition stands. CI leverages in-depth insights to examine the specific forces driving marketing activities and sales conversions. CI focuses on detailed insights such as –

  • What is of importance to your current and potential customers?
  • How customers value your competitors’ products or services.
  • How customers use your products or services.
  • Identifying customers’ pain points and places of interest, to address them and connect with your customers on a personal level.

Market Intelligence offers you in-depth insights and a clear perspective on the market as a whole. MI operates with the objective of understanding the market, your customers, the competitors, and how the latter two react to changes in market conditions.

Competitive Intelligence mainly views competitor strategies by examining marketing expenditure, business expansion, partnerships fostered, software implemented, business priorities, and behavior. CI enables you to inspect your competitors’ strategies from inside the business, with the primary objective of identifying and leveraging opportunities that they are missing out on. Differentiators and pricing become important when trying to trump competitors on their shortcomings.

Market and Competitive Intelligence thus becomes crucial in making well-informed business decisions with an in-depth view of technographic data. It can help your organization understand the consumer’s socioeconomic data based on specific geographic data, and understand their pain points and interests, which in turn help to interpret customer behavior. With focused data and actionable insights available in real-time, operations can make more impactful business decisions, optimize strategies, boost innovation, and propel the business as a whole.

Acquiring Competitive Intelligence

Capturing business intelligence, technographic data, and in-depth insights on both customers and competitors requires the use of marketing intelligence tools. Some of the key ways to gather CI are as follows:

Research Competitor Strategies

Seldom will a competitor engage in a conversation where they are being persuaded to reveal their strengths and weaknesses, and how their business operates. But they are almost always alright with talking about their competitors, which opens up a treasure trove of information. This intelligence will enable you to gauge what marketing strategies the customers are accustomed to, identify the efficacy of these strategies, and go on to construct your own.

Leverage Market Research Tools

Even though market research does not translate to CI, it offers a lot of insights that can complement the intelligence gathered from CI tools. You can leverage market research tools to capture and analyze data, analyze signals, and detailed insights on customer engagement, customer reviews, messaging strategies, and how competitors are operating in a certain market.

Engage with your Customers

Social Listening and Social Monitoring are not just important for Social Media Intelligence and effective marketing, but the right tools can help you leverage social mentions and conversations with customers both existing and potential, into business intelligence. With every single customer engagement across touchpoints, you can analyze the information to listen to your customers, understand them, and how your competitors are operating in the same sphere. Leverage this Competitive Market Intelligence to offer your customers a better experience based on detailed customer insights.

Use Technographic Data

Technographic Segmentation will enable you to view the technology stacks and software that your competitors are using to stay abreast of the market environment in which you are operating. With a clearer understanding and a comparative view of the technology that your competitors are using and the success it is offering them, you can remodel your business processes and incorporate software or hardware that will help you to serve your customers better and enable your business to thrive. Technographic data is a core element of CI since today’s technology ecosystem is fast evolving and you need every competitive edge you can get.

Leveraging Competitive Intelligence

  • You need to focus on what are potentially the right deals for your business to expand. You need to simply take the time to pay attention to competitor business trends, customer conversations, and identify prospective clients. You may be spending more time and effort in this process, but the intelligence gained will pay off tenfold when you take the best-informed decision regarding marketing, sales, and expansion strategies.
  • Connect your sales initiatives to market trends and pain points. Before purchasing they will look into product reviews, detailed documentation, published content, and access networks that can influence their ultimate decision. You need to stand out from your competitors right from the initial conversation, making compelling arguments based on CI-driven actionable insights. You also need CI to establish deep industry expertise, especially if you are in a B2B environment selling to CTOs and technically proficient clients.
  • CI offers you a clear picture of how much customers are spending on your competitors’ products and services. Switch the approach from ‘how much they can save’ on your product, to ‘how much more value’ they can gain if they choose your product over your competitors. Position yourself as a business offering greater value, and it will negate any price difference that may have been a factor in the consumer’s mind.

Transforming Competitive Intelligence with AI

CI tools in conjunction with traditional market research can help you to truly gain a competitive edge in today’s cut-throat marketplace environment. Course5 Compete is a scalable Market and Competitive Intelligence platform, which leverages AI tools such as Machine Learning and NLP for rapid data mining and integration from multiple sources. The AI-driven Market and Competition Sensing (MCS) platform automates Market Opportunity Analysis, and offers curated and personalized insights for decision-makers at every level of the organization. The insights gathered are competitive, actionable, and available in real-time on a personalized dashboard to streamline the process from data collection and analysis to strategy execution and sales.

Course5 Compete for a Competitive Advantage

Within Course5 Compete’s MCS platform, you can access KnowledgeHub, a knowledge management tool designed to improve visibility into market and competitor developments. Gain unprecedented access to all internal and external data in a streamlined dashboard with intuitive Search functionality. Being integrated into the MCS platform, it further enables you to track industry updates, market trends, product and business developments, and related activity in real time. At a time when knowledge is power, knowledge management with an intuitive search capability can transform your Competitive Intelligence solution. Access better insights, make better-informed business decisions, and let the ROI speak for itself.

Course5 also offers Market and Competitive Intelligence solutions for organizations looking to outsource their CI requirements. The AI-based solutions automate the process and ensure both speed and efficiency.

With the effective deployment of such platforms or the employment of such solutions, you get the opportunity to understand your customers better, appreciate your competitors’ strengths and flaws, and leverage this information to make well-informed business decisions, create robust marketing and sales strategies, and target potential customers with the maximum possibility of conversion. Market and Competitive Intelligence can help you not just gain a competitive edge but raise the playing field altogether.

Author: Kiran Nandavarapu
Contributions by: Debanuj Chakraborti

Kiran Nandavarapu

Kiran leads MICI (Market/Competitive intelligence) practice and Global Delivery at C5i and has over 17 years of experience in providing research, insights, and advisory services...

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