If you want to stay in business for the long haul, you need to be observant about your marketplace, question your assumptions, and be willing to make changes! Dr. Redelmeier, a physician researcher says, “Do not get trapped into prior thoughts. It’s perfectly OK to change your mind as you learn more.” While his world of research evolves around behavior, his practice of questioning and researching around your assumptions, and his willingness to change based on learning, will benefit researchers of all types and including those running a competitive intelligence operation.
This blog contains wisdom from the competitive intelligence expert panel from SLA’s 2010 annual conference. This blog focuses on their discussion around PTW (price to win) and win loss analysis. It’s remarkable than only 20% of companies even do win loss analysis given its great insight into customers and competitors!
Jan Herring, competitive intelligence guru shares tips for information pros that competitive intelligence professionals can also benefit from. The final 3 tippers are: improve your company’s financial based competitor comparisons; build innovative early warning alert systems; and develop CI software systems to improve your effectiveness through the right use of technology.
In the spirit of cooperative intelligence, here are short excerpts about the 7 competitive intelligence presentations that will be given at SLA 2010 Annual Conference held in New Orleans from June 12 – 16, 2010 at the New Orleans Convention Center.
While GE uses rivalry to stimulate innovation, I believe it can also be used to support other functions such as competitive intelligence in the case of war gaming, in particular. Another group that responds well to healthy rivalry, if you publicize their contribution, is Sales. People are naturally competitive and want to be the best, so healthy rivalry that advances your company’s goals for innovation, improved competitiveness and winning more deals—is a good thing!
Seena Sharp provides incredible wisdom around the practice of competitive intelligence and draws upon her wisdom from over 30 years experience. Executives like most people misunderstand CI and often focus on monitoring competitors, a subset of competitive intelligence which should include a robust external dive into all the factors which can affect your company’s success — starting with your customers. Another point Sharp emphasizes is the need to re-examine our assumptions in these changing times. To make this point she quotes Will Rogers, “it ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Likewise, when examining competitors, consider “what they know that you don’t” to uncover new markets, applications and customer niches.
Tactic #5: Remain ethical and avoid deception as you collect competitive information. As a consultant I am sensitive to the topic of ethics since there is such a variance among my clients. Some clients have the attitude of “Just get the information for us, I don’t care how!” Others go as far as to have me sign on to their company ethical standards. I find that having an honest discussion around ethics at the proposal stage is helpful so I can decide if my ethics and the company’s are similar. Ultimately it’s your conscience that will guide your behavior and ethics is part of that.
I look to build 2 databases to support competitive intelligence: one which is a repository of data/reports/analysis and another which is a contact database of experts and users of competitive intelligence both inside and outside your company. The repository is useful for monitoring, as a source for quick retrieval of data for projects, and can facilitate self-service of existing information and analysis for competitive intelligence clients. The contact database is most precious especially if sortable by expertise, topical interest and whatever way it makes it easy for you to find the right person, whether a user or resource for your competitive intelligence needs.
Trade shows are a Mecca for competitive intelligence. Nowhere are there more people who want to share their knowledge and insight with you: industry experts, prospects, competitors, other industry participants such as suppliers and distributors and journalists. This is cooperative intelligence at its finest since everyone is marketing to you whether at formal presentations, exhibitor booths or even informal places like the conference bar or hotel café.
Use a cooperative connection approach with internal and external experts regardless of how you reach them. A good way to think about who to connect with internally is: who is dealing with my competitors, customers, the investor community, suppliers, distributors, regulators or attends trade shows? Externally, you need to consider who tracks the marketplace you compete in, in all its aspects: technology, innovation, the environment, economic conditions, politics/lobbyists, regulatory, social issues and the competition.