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Top 5 Competitive Intelligence Challenges and What You Can Do About Them

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Emily Dumas on Wed, Feb 12, 2020

With every new initiative comes its own set of challenges. Creating and executing a competitive intelligence (CI) program isn’t always easy, no matter how experienced the professional or how robust the program. In the 2020 State of Competitive Intelligence report, we asked 1,000+ CI professionals what their top challenges are. We found that 95% of CI professionals struggle with at least one of the most common challenges. The top five challenges are, 

  • Gathering Competitive Intelligence in a Timely Manner
  • Measuring the Results of CI Efforts
  • Separating Signal from Noise to find Competitive Insights
  • Driving Action Across the Business with CI
  • Centralizing and Organizing Competitive Data. 

Crayon State of Competitive Intelligence Report

Let’s dive deeper into each of these challenges and take a look at how you can tackle each challenge to improve your CI program.

Challenge: Gathering CI In a Timely Manner

Your competitive landscape is constantly changing. You need to stay on top of your market as shifts can happen at any moment. If you’re conducting CI research manually, you may actually be wasting time, because by the time you analyze and share the information, something new may have already been released. For many CI pros, gathering and delivering up-to-date intel is a constant struggle. 

Get the latest data - download the 2020 State of Competitive Intelligence  Report 

Gathering competitive intelligence manually can be very time consuming, but you don’t have to collect CI manually. You can automate your processes by doing something so small as setting Google Alerts, to investing in a solution that will automate the collection and alerting of your competitors’ every move. If you leverage an automated solution, you can integrate your competitive intelligence data engine with your outputs, like battlecards, to push out competitive updates as soon as they happen. Once you cut down the time spent looking for data, you’re able to analyze and share it in a timely manner so that the intel you’re collecting is getting in front of the right people within an appropriate time frame. 

Challenge: Measuring the Results of CI Efforts 

Measuring the results of your competitive intelligence efforts is the second most common challenge among CI pros. The State of Competitive Intelligence report found that less than half (44%) of CI teams actually have defined key performance indicators (KPIs). It’s reassuring to note, though, that 35% of teams are in the process of defining KPIs so that they can accurately measure their efforts. Many CI pros may not know where to start when it comes to measuring CI efforts, but there are many ways to measure the impact your CI program is having on your overall business. 

Start small and scale your analysis over time. Based on the 2020 State of CI Report, we found ten common KPIs for CI

  1. Revenue or sales results, including revenue won, revenue increases, sales influenced
  2. Qualitative feedback, via surveys or individually
  3. Engagement on CI outputs, such as views and downloads
  4. Market share or related metrics such as share of voice, share of wallet, brand awareness vs. competitors
  5. Customer retention or customer satisfaction/net promoter score (NPS
  6. Accuracy of intelligence and predicting competitive movement
  7. Win rate, or competitive win rate specifically
  8. Decisions influenced and how competitive insights drive company strategies
  9. Quantity of outputs and/or requests, showing desire for more CI and effectiveness of executing on these requests
  10. Awareness/understanding of changes in the market landscape

Based on what’s important for your company, you can choose one or combine multiple KPIs to measure the impact your program is having - because your program is without a doubt having an impact. 

Challenge: Separating Signal from Noise 

When conducting competitive intelligence research, it’s important to practice what we call separating the signal from the noise. There are a lot of sources and data points that you can collect competitive insights from. It’s important to be able to differentiate what’s important and what’s not. But, how can you focus on “signal” rather than spending too much time on the “noise?” 

As Crayon CEO, Jonah Lopin, said, “If you tapped into every change in a digital footprint, you’d drown in a sea of data. The footprint for a given company changes frequently, but many of those changes are immaterial.” To pull out signal from noise of your competition’s digital footprints, focus on keywords or specific insight types that are most meaningful to you. For example, if reliability is a core differentiator in your market, hone in on competitor status updates or mentions of reliability across their content and social media. It’s also beneficial to leverage a CI platform that incorporates machine learning and AI to help you automatically sort and prioritize the sea of insights you’ve gathered about your competition. 

Challenge: Driving Action Across the Business with CI 

For many competitive intelligence professionals, it can be hard to drive action outside of their own teams. This can happen as a result of other teams not knowing how to apply competitive intelligence to their day-to-day. If CI is a new initiative for you, your stakeholders might not know what to do with the data that you’re communicating to them. 

When you deliver your intel to your team, make sure you’re highlighting your key findings and providing them with actionable next steps to take with the data. Once you’ve done your research, drill into how your team can apply that to their jobs. When you deliver intel to your stakeholders, be prepared to answer questions, and help them apply your findings to their strategy. Your entire organization will benefit from the information you provide to them. In fact, here are 12 ways you can drive action from competitive intelligence, to get you started. 

Challenge: Centralizing and Organizing CI Data 

If your team can’t find the competitive intelligence data you’ve worked so hard to create, how are they supposed to leverage it? One challenge across organizations is centralizing and organizing your competitive intelligence data. Not only is organizing your data important, but having it in one central location is critical to connecting the dots between competitive data points and not duplicating CI efforts.

The key is having a one-stop-shop for your team to access your competitive intelligence data. Creating a central location to host all of your data, whether that be a wiki, CRM, or third-party platform, will help you make sense of the wide range of competitive data around your organization and build resources that are directly connected to your competitive data engine. If you’re looking for a place to get started, check out this competitive intelligence database template

It’s impossible to execute on a new initiative without a few challenges popping up along the way. While these five challenges are the most common, we also have found that there is some overlap amongst them. You can set yourself up for success and ease the impact from some of these challenges by setting goals and KPIs, gathering up-to-date and relevant intel, creating a centralized location for your data, and arming your team with actionable insight from your competitive intelligence research. 

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Topics: Competitive Intelligence

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