Competitive intelligence (CI) remains a key business function and becoming increasingly effective as a tool to determine intelligence requirements, finding the right information and developing competitive insights.
Crayon in a blogpost says that “the way businesses and CI practitioners are approaching competitive intelligence, however, is changing quickly. In a survey (www.crayon.co/blog/competitive-intelligence-is-maturing-heres-what-to-do-about-it) it came to some pertinent conclusions:
- Competition continues to intensify across industries and the right response to this is a stronger focus on competitive intelligence programs.
- Competitive investment brows and Competitive intelligence practitioners are becoming valuable assets. Increasing numbers of businesses now have two or more employees working on CI than a few years ago and businesses large and small are also allocating larger budgets to their new CI personnel.
- As Competitive Intelligence teams grow larger and their budgetary authority expands, another interesting trend emerges: the way in which they execute on CI programs. Competitive Intelligence Practitioners are improving processes thanks to larger teams and more budgetary flexibility allowing CI practitioners to step back and examine how they execute. When the CI process is broken down to research, analysis, and communication of intel, research has historically been the most time-consuming activity by far. Now the percentage of time CI pros spend on research has decreased over time.
- CI practitioners are either getting better at finding important intel, or are starting to adopt software like IBIS™’ StratScan™ that streamlines research (or both). The end result is that the CI function is becoming more efficient and more time is going to the portions of CI that impact business outcomes.
- Quantifiable Impact is becoming consistent. Early days saw only few companies reporting seeing a quantitative impact of their CI program. Given the extremely tight budget allocated to CI and the excessive time spent on research rather than analysis and dissemination of intel, that number is not shocking. In recent times however, most businesses are reporting that they see quantifiable results from their CI programs.
- All of these trends point to a major shift. Modern competitive intelligence - that is, Competitive Intelligence that is somewhere between partly and entirely performed digitally - is maturing as a business function. Broadly speaking, this is not a novel concept. Anyone familiar with Six Sigma can talk about Process Maturity Models. Deloitte and MIT Sloan have written extensively about the impact of digital transformation on a company’s broader level of digital maturity. The novelty lies in the maturation of competitive intelligence more specifically. To keep up with where the market is moving and meet (or even exceed) the new norm, it is imperative to move beyond viewing and executing CI in an ad-hoc manner. CI programs need a defined, repeatable process that allows for a proactive approach to producing and updating the key deliverables consumed by every stakeholder in a business.