Competitive intelligence is something of a rarity in business. In amongst a sea of acronyms and jargon, the term is defined as you might expect. It’s the practice of possessing relevant information on those companies that you might find yourself competing with.
But even though the idea of knowing what your rivals are up to is one that stretches back into the annals of business history, the depth and breadth of intelligence gathering has never been more expansive, more sophisticated or more important.
Lawful and Legal
Legal and ethical competitive intelligence is not only widely accepted across the business world, but it is also becoming an expected part of company strategy, particularly with sites like Companies House Direct making basic company data freely and widely available. The theory behind the practice is a simple one. It works on the basis that the more you are able to predict a competitor’s movements in the market, the more you are able to keep up with their expected progress based on core business principles.
Though the internet has made the starting point for gathering intelligence straightforward, the strategy is a multi-layered one that must be translated into the specific needs of a particular business in order to fully achieve its target.
It is easy to state that the ability to understand any external pressures surrounding a company can help build profit and secure growth, but how exactly is competitive intelligence gathered? Experts in the strategy will almost begin at the end: by establishing the preferable outcome for a company, they can meticulously map out how they can gather information that will lead to the desired final destination.
Commonly, a three-part plan will be put in place to collect data and research before applying findings to a company’s future plans. The first step is primary research: making the most of personnel and the public, this often takes the form of surveys, focus groups and questionnaires. Following this, secondary research can be employed: this incorporates the use of sources such as Companies House to obtain relevant information. Thirdly, strategists will analyse everything discovered in order to reveal solid conclusions about a competitor’s next move and what can be done to stay on track.
Finally, although traditionally considered a window to the outside world, the role competitive intelligence can play in shaping the health of strategy and planning in-house should not be underestimated. Applying the same rules to your own business and analysing your own data can really help a company focus on potential profits and future growth.