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Troubleshooting Your Competitive Intelligence System

Published: May 20, 2020

Does your competitive intelligence system run like an outdated app you’ve been meaning to update? Do you find yourself dealing with performance issues and lag time when it comes to keeping people informed? If so, it may be time to run a diagnostic on your CI process. 

Here are three common issues that may be hindering your competitive intelligence system’s performance, along with our tips on how to get rid of them: 

1. Inadequate data collection: Information gathering is at the heart of any successful competitive intelligence (CI) process. How successful you are at collecting a variety of information from an array of sources will determine how effective your process is as a whole, and will directly impact how well-informed your CI users are. If your collection strategy isn’t as strategic as it should be, you could be harming the rest of your CI process. 

Signs

  • Content is collected infrequently or performed on an “as needed” basis (IE: when someone has a few hours to spare) 

  • Competitors and product lines of interest are poorly defined 

  • Major competitor updates are  missed or reported days later 

  • General industry news, trends and innovation is often overlooked 

  • Emerging potential competitors go unnoticed (until they make major news) 

Suggested solution: Automation 

While it may appear simple on the surface, data collection presents a major, ongoing challenge for even the most diligent CI team. The sheer volume of information produced online each day makes automated data collection a necessity for teams that are serious about competitive intelligence. In addition to providing more thorough, consistent results, automated web scraping solutions free up your employees’ time to focus on higher value tasks. 

2. Flawed organization: If you’re sure that your collection process is up to par, but you still find yourself missing potentially valuable insights, there may be a problem with your system of organization. If your collection system is working properly, sorting and classifying the vast amount of content it finds can be a daunting task. The goal of any competitive intelligence system should be to transform random data into a resource that helps your company understand its place within the industry and defines what its competing against. Without ongoing, thoughtful organization, your competitive intelligence process is likely to become messy and confusing for the average user to navigate. 

Signs: 

  • An ongoing flood of competitive intelligence content 

  • Inability to quickly sort by date, source, or associated competitors 

  • A lack of prioritization; all content is relayed with the same level of urgency 

  • Users may find themselves ignoring competitive intelligence briefings all together for weeks or months at a time 

Suggested solution: Dedicated curation 

Rather than leaving individual CI users to sort through a deluge of data on their own, consider assigning a dedicated curator to filter and classify information as it’s found. Your curator is responsible for winnowing down that initial influx of data based on relevance, cleaning up duplicate finds, and classifying relevant content so that it remains organized and searchable even as your CI database grows. Many businesses opt to outsource curation duties to an external analyst, in order to save time and ensure that curation remains an ongoing priority.  

3. Poor distribution:  The final step in a successful competitive intelligence process is ensuring that your meticulously collected, curated data is flowing quickly and efficiently throughout your organization. This includes ensuring that competitive intelligence users are notified when relevant information is found and creating mechanisms for users to customize what “relevant” means depending on their role. When distribution fails, your investment in the rest of the competitive intelligence process is essentially wasted, since the information you’re paying to find and curate isn’t reaching the stakeholders who might benefit from it. 

Signs: 

  • Infrequent or incomplete competitive intelligence updates 

  • Few, if any, defined distribution channels 

  • Inadequate flow of information between competitive intelligence users and/or departments 

  • Lack of customizable options, leading to irrelevant briefings and loss of employee interest 

Suggested solution: Customized briefings 

Instead of defaulting to ad hoc methods or a one-size-fits-all competitive intelligence memo, invest in a distribution system that allows users to adjust the frequency and content of the updates they receive. By empowering users to manage their own CI needs, you increase the likelihood that they’ll find value in the information they receive. To that end, consider implementing a proactive distribution system-- one that notifies users via email briefings or newsletters, rather than expecting them to check a separate CI system for alerts and updates. 

 

If you’re interested in how CI Radar can help upgrade your competitive intelligence system, contact us to learn more