Let’s face it: Competitive intelligence (CI) is about as close as the business world gets to peering into a crystal ball. Yet for as challenging as it can be, the process of collecting and analyzing information, gaining insight into market dynamics, learning from past industry disruptions, anticipating competitor moves and dispassionately exploiting market shifts is downright fun—if you know what to look for.
That’s where Nexis® for CI comes in.
What characteristics are essential to effective CI? How has competitive intelligence evolved? What processes, content, tools and tech are shaping the horizon, and where is CI headed in the future? We’ll examine all this and more in our new series, Intelligence Accelerated.
Four pillars to effective CI
Let’s start, as all good stories do, at the very beginning: the four pillars of effective competitive intelligence. Effective CI takes into consideration current and anticipatory intelligence, as well as strategic and tactical intelligence. Together, these four elements influence both day-to-day work and the bets your organization should be placing on the future.
- Current intelligence aims to provide real-time understanding of competitors’ actions and the implications of your
- Anticipatory intelligence seeks to assess the evolution of competitors’ intentions and capabilities in the future.
- Strategic intelligence focuses on longer-term issues, such as key risks and opportunities facing the enterprise. It’s the non-market-facing data.
- Tactical intelligence is shorter-term and seeks to provide input into issues such as capturing market share or increasing revenues. This is typically less strategic, product-related bits and pieces as opposed to big, company-related matters.
But arriving at juicy CI insights isn’t as simple as dropping a few competitor names into Google, seeing what springs up and making inferences from what you find. It begs the question: Is your CI process stuck in an old-school approach?
The old-school approach: What happened? Why?
To understand the evolution of competitive intelligence, we have to start with the old-school approach. Traditional competitive intelligence used to be about gaining general knowledge through financial performance and news announcements. It was backwards facing. It looked strictly at what happened and tried to extrapolate or make assumptions about why.
And that worked well, for a while. But that “traditional” approach didn’t tell the whole story. It didn’t allow organizations to both look over their shoulders and peer around corners, to see the forest and the trees.
For example: If Kodak had been watching patent filings, it would have known high-quality camera phones were quickly evolving… just waiting to disrupt its entire business model. If Ford had had its eye on lithium market trends, it wouldn’t be trying to play catch-up with its competitors in the electric vehicle market.
The new-school approach: What next? What if?
Today, competitive intelligence is at once more nuanced and more obvious. The new-school way of approaching CI delivers a 360-degree view of your competition, identifying potential opportunities where you can out-maneuver and out-perform them. It’s all about constantly scanning the horizon.
Furthermore, the new-school approach doesn’t rely simply on general knowledge. It takes into consideration the full spectrum of online and offline activity, quantitative and qualitative data, and competitive, customer and operational environments. The goal is to not only answer the old-school questions—what happened and why—but the new-school ones as well: What’s next? What if?
The new way of delivering competitive intelligence also acknowledges that there is more collaboration across—and greater-than-ever relevance to—key business functions. Virtually every job function can benefit from competitive intelligence:
- Marketing: how are our competitors positioning themselves?
- Sales: how are my competitors’ sales teams being compensated?
- Customer success: how strong is their customer satisfaction?
- Finance: how are we measuring up?
- IT: what are my competitors using?
- Product development: what new features, patents, products or market entries are on the way?
- Strategy: what mergers, acquisitions or divestments are happening?
This creates pressure on CI professionals to evolve—and in some cases, fundamentally change—the processes, content sets, tools and technology they use to deliver insights to their team. And it forces them to answer the million-dollar question: What are we going to do about it?
Don’t worry, though. LexisNexis is here to help. In fact, “What are we going to do about it?” will be the next topic in our Intelligence Accelerated series. Stay tuned.
In June, LexisNexis launched Nexis® for Competitive Intelligence to empower strategy, market research, R&D and investment decisions. The end-to-end solution allows users to instantly search, compare and analyze key business indicators—such as company, news, legal, M&A and intellectual property information—to spot trends, visualize how the competition stacks up and share key findings with stakeholders.