Aug 072013

girl with magnifying glassIf you want to stay ahead of your competition in today’s highly competitive business environment, then you will need to be sure that have a team of executives that are trained in competitive intelligence. Although it may sound a little underhanded or shady, intelligence is a broadly accepted legal business strategy that seeks to gather information about an entire business environment and convert it into useful intelligence.

The main function of competitive intelligence is to identify risks and opportunities early on. In some circles this is also called early signal identification. Businesses commonly use market statistics, financial reports and news analysis to carry out intelligence.

However, in order to gain an edge over your competitors, you will need to rely on more than just statistics and reports. You really need to invest in competitive intelligence training so that professionals in your company can practice competitive price intelligence. Pricing is always a big concern for competitors. Staying at the forefront of pricing will allow your company to remain competitive while helping to avoid an industry-wide price war that will drive prices down. Competitive price intelligence is just one example of the overall intelligence strategy.

Competitive intelligence will be a driving force behind your company’s overall strategy as you move forward. It will allow your business to develop well thought out strategies for the success of your company by basing action on information an analysis. Therefore, it is extremely important that you place a great deal of resources into competitive intelligence training.

There are five main areas of focus in competitive intelligence. They include assessment of strategies, competitor perceptions, and effectiveness of current operations, competitor capabilities and long-term market prospects. These fall under the umbrella of the three main approaches to competitive intelligence, which are:

  • Strategic Intelligence – This form of intelligence focuses on competitor analysis. It focuses on trying to understand the goals, current strategies, assumptions about itself and the industry and capabilities of competitors. Intelligence may be in the form of the company’s customers, suppliers and partners.
  • Tactical Intelligence – This form of intelligence looks at the competitors on a lower level. For example, it may look at a company’s terms of service or polices or terms of sale. Mid-level marketers and sales managers can benefit from tactical intelligence and should undergo training with a focus in this area. The focus is on the current business situation rather than trying to predict future trends or behaviors.
  • Counter Intelligence – This form of intelligence works to guard valuable intelligence within a company. This means keeping future strategies and plans under close protection in order to prevent the competition from learning of them and exploiting them for their own gain.

As you can see, competitive intelligence plays a large role in providing businesses with the direction the need to take both today and in the future. It is vital to the success of a business that it devotes resources to educating its executive and mid-level employees on relevant areas of intelligence.

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