We are witnessing a current business environment where continuous technological advances are enabling companies to increasingly innovate to the point of disruption. Companies that innovate for disruption pose tremendous competitive threats not only by ultimately dominating market share but also by leaving a path of destruction in the form of failed businesses. These businesses might have been highly successful and held market share dominance at one time but neglected to analyze and monitor the dynamic conditions of their competitive landscapes. Competitive threats these days are much more difficult to identify because companies who disrupt often enter or create new markets. The standard way of analyzing a company against a traditional industry no longer applies. How does a company compete in this disruptive-driven and hyper-competitive environment? The answer: through competitive intelligence (CI).
Simply put, competitive intelligence allows a business to stay ahead of the competition through the ethical gathering, analyzing, and monitoring of information that can either positively or negatively affect that business. CI allows for first mover advantage, which empowers CEOs, managers, and business owners to make innovative and proactive decisions.
There are many case studies that illuminate the connection between CI and market disruption. Deloitte has identified “nine distinct patterns of disruption: recognizable configurations of marketplace conditions and new entrants’ approaches that can pose a disruptive threat to incumbents.” One of these is expanding market reach by connecting fragmented buyers and sellers. As an example, the following case study involves monitoring trends to introduce a new market segment, told by CI expert Sheena Sharp:
We worked with a German manufacturer of wrestling equipment, such as singlets, shoes, and headgear, to create a strategy for expansion in the marketplace. We needed to confirm that all of their original market assumptions were true, and to recognize new trends. Our research (from publicly available sources) showed that there were two demographic groups that were increasing significantly: In the US, there were more female wrestlers high school than male wrestlers in college, and all kids were starting to wrestle younger, between the ages of 7 and 14. There was no equipment made for either of these groups. Whenever there is a change, there is an opportunity. Our client became the first to enter that market and established their brand as a leader for female wrestling gear.
Tools and Resources
There are many authoritative tools and resources that can be used for intelligence gathering. Impressive privacy-minded search engines, data analytic and social media monitoring tools, and open access resources are continuously being developed and launched.
A sampling of tools and resources used for CI gathering:
- Social media
- Social media listening/monitoring tools
- Alert tools
- Search engines
- Financial filings and company data
- News sources
- Commercial market research databases
- Open access government data
- Trade/industry publications
- Legal and law
- Local business/regional news publications
I will be writing more posts that detail key sources to use for CI information gathering.
The wisdom of any decision is proportional to the range and depth of context that informs it. – Max Boisot