Magazine article Management Today

Crash Course in ... Competitive Intelligence (CI)

Magazine article Management Today

Crash Course in ... Competitive Intelligence (CI)

Article excerpt

You've got some crucial strategic decisions to make, but a lot hinges on what your competitors are doing. So how can you find out what they're up to?

Be proactive. 'If you only start doing competitor research when you are being hurt, it may be too late,' says Arthur Weiss, founder of consultancy Aware. 'You want to know what your competitors' plans are for two years' time and how they will affect you.'

What's it for? CI has traditionally been driven by marketing needs. 'It's very difficult to come up with a marketing strategy if you don't know what your competitors are doing,' says Mark Blayney Stuart, head of research at the Chartered Institute of Marketing. However, CI is now being used in other business areas, for example, benchmarking executive pay, says Chris West, co-founder of Competitive Intelligence Services.

Make it action-based. Competitive intelligence gathering should always be linked to an action the company plans to take, says Tony Nagle, managing director of consultancy Fuld Europe. 'We always try to establish what decisions the intelligence will support,' he says. West adds: 'Once you've defined the problem, the information needed to solve it should be obvious.'

Start with what's published. Secondary research is what's in the public domain. 'All companies should do this, but most don't do more than informal monitoring,' says West.

Find primary sources. Talk to anybody who knows the company: customers, suppliers, journalists, analysts, ex-employees and current employees. …

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