How to Use Competitive Intelligence Successfully

A recent article in Harvard Business Review found that 45% of competitive intelligence (CI) findings weren't used when management was making decisions about strategy. However, those companies who used the power of CI for their decision-making had four common factors:

  • The CI analyst was assigned a "sign-off" authority over major decisions.

  • Management was open to perspectives that were different from the internal consensus.

  • The analyst's report called for proactive action more than reaction.

  • The analyst was involved in product launches.

The CI analyst having sign-off for major decisions was the most important factor to getting CI used out of the four reasons above. This would indicate that the CI analyst must sit with the decision-makers and be comfortable debating and influencing others about the CI collected. They can't just drop off the slide deck and leave, but must actively champion the value and opportunity that CI brings, and make it a core component of decisions. They've also got to have "skin in the game", by having their name and research seen to be supporting decisions in a very public way that is accountable. That also helps keep the CI honest and reliable. What's not to like about that!

How to Use Competitive Analysis To Make Better Decisions

An article in the Harvard Business Review this year explored the idea that companies are spending up large on competitive analysis data and strategies, but they are not being used at the level where it’s needed. The advice is often ignored by senior management, and then companies miss out on opportunities to grow their market, or fail to notice disruptive technology taking business away from them. How can you ensure sure that managers are actually using the competitive information their analysts are producing? One way is to audit decisions made by managers. This is essentially finding out what information they used to make a decision, and why this decision is valid when surrounded by all the other noise swirling around. In turn, managers become better decision makers - they have to use competitive intelligence to plot and defend or champion what happens next. They also get a better sense of what is happening in their market, and the organisation gets ROI from its investment in market research. A win-win for everyone.