In today’s modern business world, the key to success is constant commitment to
being agile, innovative and competitive. Proof of this can be seen in the Fortune 500 and the business models of the fastest growing companies. To sustain and grow their businesses, 90% of Fortune 500 companies have established competitive intelligence programs running within their organizations.
The companies on the Fortune 500 and those named as "most innovative" or "fastest growing" have something important in common: in-depth knowledge of their market and competitors. Over time, the most successful businesses have developed (and sustained) cultures that facilitate the use of competitive intelligence to inform strategy and innovation at every level of the organization.
By nurturing a culture of knowledge within your company, you motivate people to understand the benefits of CI and get as much out of it as they can. So, if you want to foster proactive innovation, mitigate risk and gain the ultimate competitive advantage for your organization, here are the steps you need to take to create a knowledge-first culture.
Assigning ownership for intelligence helps ensure consistent coverage and prioritization. For some organizations, CI collection, analysis and distribution is a full-time role; others have built Centers of Excellence and whole departments devoted to knowledge management and corporate intelligence. For SMBs with budget or resource limitations, CI is a function shared among a few first-line “CI sheriffs" who facilitate the collection and distribution of information.
An important aspect of assigning ownership is the implementation of a formal process with standards of excellence and strategic objectives. In doing so, you create a solid framework that encourages company-wide support. The CI unit also needs to gain consistent support from business leaders in order to achieve desired results for the organization.
The fact that many organizations don't prioritize intelligence only hinders the future growth of their business. The benefits of competitive intelligence and market research are endless – as long as they are a consistent priority.
To make sure intelligence and knowledge sharing are an organization-wide priority, make sure to provide constant visibility into the process and share results whenever possible. In order to get stakeholders at every level to actively use intel to inform smarter decision making, you need to constantly reinforce the purpose and value of the entire process.
Get Everyone Involved
A great CI system puts actionable information in the right hands at the right time. On one end, a great CI system is like a vacuum – sucking up every relevant bit of intel it can from across your organization. On the other end, it needs to be a noise-filtering funnel delivering timely, tailored insights to different internal audiences.
To be successful, in the short and long-term, the process also requires constant measurement and improvement, which is another area where wider company involvement is of particular value.
Incentivize Sharing & Collaboration
A great competitive intelligence system alerts the right people to key intel at the right time, making it easy to quickly respond to threats and opportunities. To make that happen, the best systems have a centralized research portal that makes it easy for people to find and collaborate on intelligence.
One way to incentivize collaboration and sharing is by distributing tailored email briefings for different roles. This approach also encourages engagement through the consistent delivery of timely relevant intelligence.
Minimize the Burden
Minimizing the burden of CI for researchers, contributors and decision makers is important for creating a knowledge-driven culture that facilitates intelligence. The best way to minimize burden for both researchers and internal stakeholders is to automate as much of the intelligence gathering and curation as possible. For instance, instead of having someone spend hours a week putting together customized email newsletters for different internal audiences, automate that task. In the ideal scenario, subscribers have the ability to customize daily and weekly briefings, choosing to follow only the companies, topics and products/services that are important to them.
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