Competitive Intelligence: sources, methods and communication
In order to design efficient communication and influence strategies, as well as for the management and evaluation of our communication strategic plans, we need to carry out sound analysis and have truly relevant information about our stakeholders or audiences. It is an essential starting point for any strategic communication professional. Likewise, communication is an essential dimension within the competitive environment and it is crucial for competitive intelligence programs to recognize this fact and have appropriate analytic and technical frameworks to know, understand and explain this dimension, the involved actors, the relationships, the driving forces and the implications to business decision-makers.
A complete intelligence products portfolio is the one that, with an integrated perspective, provides timely information and analysis on the elements that form both spheres –industries/markets (clients/consumers, suppliers, competitors, etc.) and the macro-environment–. In order to be able to obtain truly relevant data, the internal perspective of the organization is absolutely essential
That being said, assuming that both premises have been fully adopted, the following step is to take action. That is, where and how can useful strategic information for our client be found? How should this information be analyzed and interpreted? And, how can we communicate these insights and recommendations in an efficient manner, adapted to the new analysis consumers of the digital era?
First, in order to have reliable sources capable of providing sound and timely information, but also relevant for intelligence consumers, the corporate client must play an active role. The intelligence function needs to know what knowledge needs the management to have. This is, which are the questions and affairs that require intelligence to decide and act accordingly. In this sense, the creation and management of excellent confidence relations with the client and other corporate consumers as well as setting up a good internal communication system are crucial. The main intelligence questions must cover both, the knowledge needs in relation to markets and competitive forces as well as those related to the macro-environment dimensions (political, economic, regulatory, social, technological, cultural and communication) that influence or could affect in a dramatic manner the conditions under which the market competition is operating.
A complete intelligence products portfolio is the one that, with an integrated perspective, provides timely information and analysis regarding the elements that form both spheres –industries/markets (clients/consumers, suppliers, competitors, etc.) and the macro-environment–. In order to be able to obtain truly relevant data, the internal perspective of the organization is absolutely essential.
In order to communicate intelligence nowadays it is essential to take user experience into account (UX) and the interaction with the customer
Good analysis need qualified and diverse sources, capable of providing access to relevant and reliable content and they are based on: (1) the systematization of operations for obtaining those data and information that are publicly accessible on open sources (official records and publications of governments and administrations, international institutions, think tanks, international, national and local press, media, websites, social networks, grey literature, databases of specialized academic and professional publications, patents, advertisements of competitors, etc.); and also (2) the proper planning of operations to obtain unpublished information that is only available through human sources, such as experts, academics, journalists, suppliers, businessmen or customers or clients themselves.
Sectorial knowledge from professional practice and experience, combined with conceptual models, interpretative frameworks and several analysis techniques –even with its strengths and weaknesses compared to other techniques– are the basis to analyze and interpret all information that reaches the system and draw conclusions and implications according to each case. The recognition of one’s own experience as a potential source of biases and competitive blind spots, as well as our cognitive limitations, is absolutely necessary and there are structured techniques to mitigate these problems. Simulations and business war gaming, scenarios, indicators, issues analysis, industry analysis, competitor profiling, mapping of strategic groups, competitive benchmarking and analysis of stakeholders are just a sample of the wide range of methods and techniques that can be used.
The communication of strategic information and analysis in a sound manner is one of the aspects whose importance gradually increases in our digital era.
In order to communicate intelligence nowadays it is essential to take user experience into account (UX) and the interaction with the customer. That is, put the focus on the global experience of the consumer regarding our products and assume that its role will gradually become more active.