Competitive Intelligence, strategically, is the method of gaining foreknowledge of your competitor’s plans and to plan your business strategy to countervail their plans. This involves many methods at the tactical collection level, but it also requires integration into your existing information infrastructure, analysis and distribution of the information, and finally, the calculation and analysis of business decisions on the grounds of that information.
Competitive intelligence has undergone a competitive intelligence groundswell of interest in recent years, an interest in part fueled by an increasing availability of information. Survey results of over 500 CEOs worldwide showed that CEOs see competitive strategy as their number one issue. Likewise, only 37% reported having competitive intelligence people involved with strategy.
To be able to succeed, businesses will need to deal with customers, suppliers, employees, and others. In almost all cases there will also be other organizations offering similar products to similar customers. These other organizations are competitors. And their objective is the same – to grow, make money and succeed. Effectively, the businesses are at war – fighting to gain the same resource and territory: the customer. And like in war, it is necessary to understand the enemy.
One mistake a lot of people make is to start by collecting information without thinking how the information will be used. There is no value in information that will just sit on a shelf. If it cannot be used to inform the business’s strategic or tactical decisions then the time, money, and effort spent collecting it is wasted.