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Competitive Intelligence: Process & Strategies

Instructor: Savannah Samoszuk

Savannah has over eight years of hotel management experience and has a master's degree in leadership.

How do companies keep up with the ever-changing societies and industries they are in? Companies have to use competitive intelligence to keep up with competitors and industry changes. This lesson will explain the competitive intelligence process and strategies.

Competitive Intelligence

Brad is the CEO of a technology company that specialties in mobile devices. His company is always trying to keep up with its competitors and its customers' needs. Competitive intelligence (CI) is the process of defining, gathering, analyzing, and distributing information regarding competitors, customers, products, and changes in the industry or environment.

To ensure his company does not fall behind, Brad needs an entire team devoted to CI. There are many aspects of the competition, the industry, and the customer that can change, and those changes will affect how Brad runs his business. For example, last year, Brad's competition released a new tablet with new functions that customers were looking for. Brad's CI team did not anticipate the new product or the need for it, which caused Brad's company's earnings to drop in that quarter. The CI process helps companies like Brad's anticipate these kinds of changes in customer needs and competitors' products.

The CI process includes the following steps:

1. Defining the intelligence needs of key decision makers

2. Gathering information

3. Analyzing the information

4. Distributing the intelligence to be used

Below, we'll discuss what each step entails.

Defining Needs

The first step in the CI process is to figure out what information is needed. Depending on the company, different types of information may be relevant: for example, some companies might be affected by politics and laws, so they need information about any changes in litigation or laws that would impact the company. This is why the first step of CI is to define what the company's key decision makers need in order to make informed decisions.

Gathering Information

Next, the actual gathering of information needs to happen. Once the key decision makers have defined the information they need, the CI team can start gathering information. Most information used in CI is public knowledge: it just needs to be sought out for the decision makers. There are many different websites and sources that can be used to obtain information about new technology, new competitors, competitor movements, new legislation, marketplace changes, and even new marketplaces.

For example, Brad's company could use Hoover's website, which is regularly updated with information about public and private companies. This information could help Brad understand his competition and even anticipate new products competitors may be coming out with. There are many other useful websites and sources that CI teams can use to collect data.

Analyzing Information

The important part of the CI process is to collect all the data in order to turn it into intelligence. this happens during the analysis phase. Intelligence has been defined as capacity for logic and understanding. This means that just having the information is not enough: the information needs to be analyzed in order to be useful.

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