What is an industry?

You might be familiar with the traditional, financial definition of an ‘industry’ as something like, “a specific branch of manufacture and trade.” For many applications, this perspective is perfectly adequate. However, we have good reason to believe that for the purposes of competitive intelligence, this approach is non-effective and limiting.

When a customer sets out to make a purchase, they do so to meet a specific need in their life. Their search will be framed in terms of how well any product fills this hole and, moreover, they are more than likely taking into account variety of ways to meet that need.

Let me say it this way: customers are considering solutions from everyone, not just you or your traditional competitors.

Looking at just your own ‘industry’ keeps you from seeing all the competitors.

First, it is important to remember that every one of your products is a solution to some customer’s problem, and second, keep in mind that other companies might solve that same problem in a very different way.

For example, a company that sells car-mounted GPS units might be well prepared to market their product against other car-mounted GPS units. However, when forced to compare their products against a GPS application for a smartphone, the company may be at a loss because it has only ever considered ‘dedicated GPS units’ as their industry and completely ignored a wide range of indirect competition.

Companies that have defined themselves and their industry in these standard terms will miss opportunities and limit their reach by putting themselves in a box.

We propose instead that an ‘industry’ should be defined as a set of potential solutions to a customer’s problem.

For example, someone may want a good tool for mobile computing. Many would be inclined to say that this is an opportunity for a laptop company to make a sale. However, this perspective fails to take into account the many ways that this particular need can be met. A tablet or smartphone might be even better suited to the specific needs of a customer and if a salesperson is asked how their laptop compares against industry-leading smartphones, they may be caught woefully ill-equipped.

Stepping back to look at multiple solutions to a customer problem allows a company to take advantage of every possible market and sale. Moreover, a firm customer-centric understanding of how products and services meet needs helps maintain focus when positioning or developing new efforts.

Based on this principle, the Compelligence system guides users to assess and re-frame their competitive industries. This enables better sales guidance and marketing strategy and allows companies to win more competitive deals, faster.

Our tools and best practices will transform your competitive intelligence efforts into a highly directed, interactive, and efficient system that lets you assess information once and then share and update it efficiently and collaboratively. More importantly, it will allow you to truly focus not only on what your product does, but also on how it compares to your competition from your customer’s point of view. And that is what will allow you to win their business.