Every profession has its temptations, and Competitive Intelligence is no exception.
What follows are the Top 3 Temptations of CI Pros, along with their potential cures.
Providing Caveats, Not Answers
Competitive Intelligence Professionals typically live in an ocean of data. As such, it can be relatively trivial to find a single piece of data that might contradict some point you are trying to make. But that doesn’t absolve you of the need to develop answers over caveats. It just makes it harder.
The Cure: Limit yourself to no more than two or three caveats per piece of analysis. If you need more than a few caveats, then you’re clearly communicating that you don’t have any confidence in your “findings.” Consequently, decision makers in your company will have even less confidence in your work. Go back and figure out what you “know” with high confidence. Stick to that. Label the rest as educated speculation and see if the decision maker wants to dedicate more resources to researching it to a higher confidence level.
Avoiding the Phone
As mentioned in the first temptation, Competitive Intelligence professionals have access to a wide range of data sources, including industry databases, social media, industry bloggers, journalists, etc.
However, the very breadth and depth of this type of information can keep Competitive Intelligence professionals from using what can be their most important asset – the phone.
The Cure: If you’re a corporate practitioner, spend at least one hour each day, and preferably one full day each week, building your network of contacts who can help you answer questions about a competitor’s sales, marketing, and product development efforts. In short, listen to the Voice of the Competitor (VOTC).
Thinking Research Is a Goal unto Itself
As someone once famously said, “People buy quarter-inch holes, not quarter-inch drill bits.” Yet time and time again, competitive intelligence professionals fall into the trap of thinking that research is the end goal and that delivering findings is what matters.
The reality is that the only thing that matters is the number of sales, marketing, product development, and strategy decisions that you impact – nothing more and nothing less.
The Cure: When collecting data and producing analysis, keep asking yourself, “How many decisions will this impact?” If the answer is few to none, put that piece of work on the shelf and move on to something with more impact.