There are two types of competitive intelligence:
- Battlefield Intelligence
- Noncompetitive Intelligence
Let’s start with Battlefield Intelligence. I call it this because its purpose is to help you gather information that will lead to stealing market share from your competition. This is the most common type of competitive intelligence though it may not always be the most productive. In order to succeed, your intelligence must be actionable and contain enough information to help you develop better products, better deliverables, better marketing and better customer service. It might even require you to develop new products to match your competition one on one.
Noncompetitive intelligence consists of strategies and techniques that do not necessarily impact your competitive stance. However, they are important strategies and lead to the gathering of important information to help you improve your internal processes.
The second type of intelligence, noncompetitive intelligence can consist of:
- Forecasting and predicting
- Describing your current business environment
- Challenge existing assumptions
- Identify your company’s weaknesses and propose solutions
- Point to strategies that are outdated or that may need adjusting
- Provide information to help you formulate intelligent questions for review and analysis
There are many different sources of information and techniques for gathering it. There are electronic sources of information and manual sources. You have in-house assets as well out external assets that you may be able to query for actionable intelligence. Furthermore, your intelligence gathering initiatives may be ongoing or short term.
One method of gathering intelligence about the marketplace is market research. A market research team can ask consumers what they think about certain aspects of your business environment, including strengths and weaknesses of your product and strengths and weaknesses of your competition’s products.
You can also collect the sales and marketing literature of your competition, which will give you some insight into how they are reaching their market and how they are communicating their own perceived strengths.
Academic libraries usually contain articles and abstracts written by industry professionals. Read what your competition has to say about important issues related to your market.
These are just a few of the techniques available in helping you collect actionable competitive intelligence. The first step is to decide just what you need the information for and what you will do with it once you gather it.