The military transformed from film-based photography to digital because of speed. Are you still using film for your competitive intelligence?

You wake up.  Pour a cup of coffee.  Receive an urgent text message.  Your start your email …it’s blowing up.  You pull up your internet news or fire up your Competitive Intelligence system or your environmental-scanning system and see the announcement…. So much for the coffee.

How many competitive intelligence professionals have faced that very situation?  I think we all have.

Your circumstances may be different, but the risk is the same.  The risk is to you, the Competitive Intelligence professional and your personal brand as the “Competitive expert.”  Isn’t that really what your brand is: “The Competitive Expert” in the company? I’ve found it rare for leaders in today’s corporations to differentiate between competitive professionals that support sales teams vs. those that support corporate strategy teams vs. those that do anything or everything else.  In fact, I’ve found that if you have “Competitive” in your job title, your peers will pretty much turn to you in any situation that has anything to do with a competitor.  They expect you to be the Swiss-Army Knife Competitive Professional.  And if you don’t have an answer for their competitive emergency then ‘that’ look comes over their face: disappointment.  Face it.  Your brand is at risk.

The situation can be anything:  a press release by a competitor, a competitive product launch, a marketing or advertising program, or a competitor acquiring another company.  The list goes on.

So, what do you do after you clean up the coffee?

Most companies launch ‘tiger teams’, hold group meetings, conduct hasty analysis, formulate competitive assessments and impact analysis, and communicate them to stakeholders.  The process is often filled with anxiety.  Are we working fast enough?  Are we considering enough data?  Is our analysis consistent?  No matter how much value you have added in the past, your time to shine is now.

Let’s use a competitor’s product launch as an example, and ask two game-changing questions:  (1) What if you didn’t have to do any analysis and still had the correct answers?  and (2) What if you had a system that allowed you to simply enter key elements of information and it did the analysis for you?

Today’s competitive environment is getting faster and bigger.  In certain industries, there are hundreds of products with new entrants being introduced rapidly.  Competitive intelligence teams are utilizing Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and in some instances IT systems or databases to conduct analysis in order to determine the competitive impact of a new product.  Some best practices include 1) Centralizing data in one place, such as a team site like Microsoft SharePoint 2) Collaborating on the analysis, with participation from experts across the company   3) Distributing the final analysis via email, or a collaboration system such as Jive or the corporate intranet.

Through excellence in execution of the above process, a competitive intelligence professional can attain a level of success that may keep your company competitive and protect your brand.

This process reminds me a bit of the days when militaries would send aircraft out to recon enemy territory with photography equipment.  The plane would make the long trip.  The film would be processed.  Then armies of analysts would look over photos inch-by-inch to search for important information.  In today’s environment, this process is slow an antiquated.  The military now uses digital systems that have embedded intelligence to assist analysts.  Do you have systems like these in your organization–systems that help automate and ease the analysis process?

Is that where we are today?

Compelligence aims to change that process.

In the coming weeks, Compelligence will transform that product response process via system automation, consistent analysis, and dynamic comparison that will enable sales teams and leadership to quickly analyze competitor events at a level of detail previously not available.

But this blog is getting long… I’ve got to set the timer on coffee for tomorrow morning.