Businesses all over the world adopt various strategies and tools to gain competitive advantage. In today’s environment of gut-wrenching competition, only such organizations can distinguish themselves from the competition, which have with the proper tools to excel. There are many tools to gain competitive advantage and organizations all over the world use these tools to anticipate the market better than their competitors. Competitive intelligence (CI) is one such technique which can provide an organization with relevant information on myriad variables in its environment, which can help the organization to gain competitive advantage and excel. In this article we take a look at what competitive intelligence actually is, and how to develop an effective competitive strategy.
CI is defined as the action of gathering, analyzing SWOT analysis reports and disseminating information, chiefly about an organization’s competitors, as well as its own customers, products, stakeholders and all the relevant aspects of its environment which could affect it, directly or indirectly. The main focus is on the external environment. This information is usually collected, organized and analyzed to be used by the top executives and managers, in order to make better strategic decisions. It should be kept in mind that competitive intelligence is a perfectly acceptable corporate activity as opposed to corporate espionage, which is considered unethical.
Myriad companies process information about their external environments in order to reap competitive and strategic benefits. However, many organizations are unable to reap the true benefits of the CI process because they do not have a sound competitive intelligence strategy. The process of CI is rendered useless if an organization does not have a well-planned competitive intelligence strategy. The question is, then, how to chisel a sound competitive intelligence strategy?
There are several ways to develop a competitive intelligence strategy which will actually benefit the organization. One of the most important things to remember while designing a CI strategy is that it should be the core of your overall competitive strategy. The information gathered through CI must be useful to deal with the competition. If the gathered information is trivial and does not necessarily yield strategic advantages to the organization relative to its competition, then it is to no avail.
Another important factor while designing CI strategy is to make sure that it is aligned with the decision making process. It is also important that it plays a specific purpose in the business intelligence model of the organization. The competitor intelligence strategy should try to focus on seeking answers to questions such as what is the domain of the organization’s competition, and what forms the basis of competition?