In today’s information-saturated world, most businesses understand the importance of staying up to date with industry developments and tracking their competitors’ major moves. Large companies may have a team or an entire department dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and distributing competitive intelligence (CI). But at a small-to-midsize company with limited resources, a dedicated CI team may not be feasible. So, who exactly is responsible for gathering and distributing the info a smaller company needs to stay competitive?
In many cases, it depends on the type of information.
Strategists, product developers, and market researcher teams can all act as valuable sources of information. Each role serves a different purpose, but all three collect, curate, and act on CI as a matter of course. But with each department focused on its own intelligence goals, cracks can easily form, allowing valuable intelligence to slip away.
For instance, even a highly skilled product management lead isn’t trained to spot the type of information that a CEO wants to see—they’re looking for information specific to their role. Without a centralized, systemic approach that takes into account the entire company’s intelligence needs, information remains fragmented and incomplete—each department holds a piece of the puzzle, but nobody sees the full picture.
Building a centralized CI process is a worthwhile, if daunting, task. Smaller companies that lack the time and resources to hire, train, and manage a proper CI team may assign CI responsibilities to existing employees. Those employees may or may not understand the needs of other departments, and they’re almost certainly busy with other responsibilities, making CI a “back-burner” task. CI is usually a secondary role, not a primary responsibility. While the employee is taking care of day-to-day business, insights are missed or left to whither in someone’s inbox until they’re no longer relevant.
To be effective, your competitive intelligence process needs an owner—a person responsible for collecting and sharing information across departmental lines. The owner may work with representatives from marketing, sales, product research, and even executives who are invested in the CI process. The expectations for this role should be clear, in terms of how frequently CI tasks are to be performed and audited.
Often, this role can be outsourced to an expert analyst for far less than the cost of reassigning a current employee, much less hiring someone new. Instead of gathering information on an ad hoc basis, a professional analyst will continuously monitor your industry space, providing a deeper context for your competitors’ moves. Midsize companies no longer have to settle for incomplete information or burden busy employees with CI tasks. An outside analyst can generate many of the same types of insights as a larger company’s CI department, at a fraction of the cost.
For more information, check out our post on outsourcing via an Analyst as a Service offering, or contact CI Radar today.