gathering competitive intelligence

Business Intelligence: Gathering Competitive Intelligence

“You can’t always be the strongest or most talented or most gifted person in the room, but you can be the most competitive”

Pat Summitt, Olympics Silver Medal

Sports teach us competitiveness and we trust our coach and mentors to give us all the information and training possible to achieve our goals and beat the competition. But how many aspects should be considered in order to be competitive? Is it the quality of the shoes that makes a better football player or is it the encouragement from the crowd? How much does one factor influence the other?

Competition is good for your business as it helps to carve out your position in the market, legitimise your ides and prove that there is a need for it.

“Competition can help to shine light on the market, which is often actually more useful than if you were alone.”

Joel Gascoigne, Buffer CEO and Co-Founder

Indeed, businesses that learn from the pioneers of their industry, enjoy lower costs and fewer mistakes as a result. The most successful entrepreneurs are those that see the gaps in existing concepts and build their solutions from there.

I believe that a sport like boxing is the perfect analogy for the thorough study of a competitor to build a winning strategy. What made Muhammad Ali the greatest boxer of all time was his ability to study his opponent’s fighting style and find counteractive moves to win the fight. These tactics soon became famous all over the world.

The importance of Opportunities and Threats

AI can be used for deeper analysis of the “OT” in our SWOT analysis. In fact, Opportunities and Threats are the hardest to consider and yet are concepts that businesses can’t ignore. Strengths and Weaknesses are a self-assessment based on existing data but can be better identified by analysing the Opportunities and Threats outside your business.

AI can find patterns in external intelligence, unearth never considered data that leads to insights, and can do so in a timely way. It ultimately helps businesses take a wider and future-looking view of the competitive landscape aiding robust business strategies.

Things to consider when assessing your opportunities and  threats:

opportunities and threats for business intelligence - gathering competitive intelligence for business.

Mastering opportunities and threats will lead you to the right insights to dodge your competitors jabs and counter external market factor’s hard punches. Avoid a major K.O. and stay in the game by being aware and being agile.

All the information that you need is searchable on the web, however, your google search won’t be able to catch everything. Your teams will waste time to gather information and consequently respond to the shifts and changes. As leaders you should also consider that your competitors are doing the same, meaning that you can lose your edge if you wait too long.

Enter: AI, Machine Learning and Data Experts.

Gathering Competitive Intelligence

Firstly, you need to create a fast and agile environment based upon the speed in which your market is moving. Converting the general competitive landscape into a goldmine of information will guide you forward, but the real key differentiator are the steps you take to automatically gather and alert you to competitive intelligence as it happens.

Three fundamental steps and the way you decide to perform them, are critical:

  1. Gather insights from external data and internal data by creating data pipelines to aggregate all necessary sources
  2. Analyze the data using Machine Learning models
  3. Interpret the results by machine to find the patterns within the data, and then review by a human expert

In our previous blog “AI-driven Competitive Intelligence” we explore the role of AI in three main areas for competitive advantage, have a read to understand how AI can expand the human capabilities to gather substantial amounts of data and prevent human bias.

Most importantly, your data sources will have to include a broader mix:

Core data + Peripheral data + External data 

Based on what you are trying to get from your competitors, you can train your AI to prioritize the data it collects and to understand the importance of a spike or outlier from the normal patterns. 

The very nature of Machine Learning means that all of this can essentially happen automatically, once the system has been trained to understand what to look for, and the data pipelines are in place. Then its a case of setting up the right monitoring of the system, and ensuring the business is ready to engage with competitor intelligence from this system. This will involve building trust in the results, but also ensuring teams can potentially react in a time-critical way. As that’s what could make the difference between dodging the uppercut or being knocked flat out.

To win, you need to partner with the right “sports coach” that can help to outperform your competitors and find opportunities and threats in the market. If you want to speak to a data expert to help get you fighting fit, then get in touch.

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