Taking Stock of your Intelligence Program

Intelligence Program

17 June, 2016 | Posted in Competitive Intelligence, Competitive methodology, Competitive Sales, Sales Enablement

A few weeks ago I posted an article on my thoughts on SCIP 2016 and the options that practitioners have available to them to support their intelligence program.  Those options came primarily in two forms (and I am generalizing).

  1. Analytics & Discovery Platforms – These are dashboards that try to scan the internet for new information or to find that ‘secret’ that is not yet known.
  2. Services Providers – Those firms that you hire to do projects for you.  This can range from a Win-Loss analysis project to other custom research.

What was missing in my opinion (well, except for Compelligence) was an Intelligence Platform.

So what is an Intelligence Platform and how does it support an Intelligence Program?

The easiest way to think of a platform is that it supports your business processes and integrates with other enterprise applications.  It should be multi-user and support a virtual team business process of intelligence.  And it should enable each and every user in the company to participate in the Intelligence process.

Where do we see this in other areas?

Sales & Sales Operations has Salesforce.com.  Each and everyday they use this application to improve their operations and be more efficient.  (Many sales people may disagree with this statement!)

Marketing has applications like Marketo, and Hubspot.

What does the Competitive Intelligence or the Market Intelligence team have? What software supports the Intelligence Program?

  • Do you have a platform that helps your team with work-flows such as project management, objective-management, and key intelligence topic management?
  • Do you have a platform that has both portals and dashboards, but also can autonomously identify news, events and trends?
  • Do you have a platform that can help not only the intelligence team, but other teams like Sales and Marketing?
  • Do you have a platform that integrates with other enterprise applications like your SSO & identity management systems.

Competitive Intelligence Business Process – what makes us different.

What makes Compelligence different is that the partners were actual practitioners for a combined 30 plus years before becoming vendors.  We simply didn’t find some technology and think that it applied.  We knew what was necessary to build a platform for practitioners, built by practitioners.

In support of this function Compelligence is announcing a new user interface to support those functions in that latter part of June.  Look forward to our announcement soon… and in the meantime I ask you this.

What is your strategy for people, process and technology?  And for technology do you have a point product or a full blown platform?

Read More...

Visit Compelligence at the 2016 SCIP Conference!

SCIP conference logo

8 May, 2016 | Posted in Competitive Intelligence

Join Compelligence at the 31st Annual SCIP Conference and Exhibition!

 

What could be more fun than Disneyland and Competitive Intelligence packed together?  Come visit us at Booth #16 at the SCIP Conference in Orlando on May 16-19th in Orlando, Florida!  We will be demoing our CI software and showing you how you can be more effective in your CI practices.

 

Let us show you how you can improve your competitive maturity  with our proven CI process.  Take a look at our dynamic battle card solution, or ask us about our CI-as-a-Service offering.  This new offering is a great way to increase the capacity of your CI team without adding any headcount.  It’s perfect for the small (or single person!) CI teams, or even for larger, more established teams.  With Compelligence, you can:

  • Easily create competitor portals and dashboards
  • Perform win/loss analysis
  • Deliver and track competitive content
  • Automatically monitor industry news
  • Create compelling newsletters
  • Integrate with Salesforce.com
  • Manage your entire CI team
  • ….much much more!

The Compelligence System is the only CI system that was developed by experienced CI professionals.  It is a purpose-built system that will enable you to be a true CI leader in your organization.

Come see for yourself how we can help you win intelligently!

Read More...

Ed Allison to present at Predictive Analytics & Business Insight 2015

Screen-Shot-2013-12-11-at-9.42.55-AM

4 February, 2015 | Posted in Competitive Intelligence, Competitive methodology, Competitive Sales

Predictive Analytics & Business Insights 2015
I’m honored to be asked by my friends at Altamont-Group to speak on the topic of Competitive Analytics

Utilize competitive data to help analyze future scenarios to make more accurate assumptionsScreen-Shot-2013-12-11-at-9.42.55-AM

Planning and Forecasting is often based on quantitative analysis comparing scenarios based on assumptions of business forces in your future environment.  The largest unknown is the future and how your competition will play in that future.  What if we could use data to help analyze those future scenarios to make more accurate assumptions.  Using technology we can analyze competitive trends in the market place, track sales feedback via win/loss analysis and compare offers in a more analytical manner to eliminate uncertainty for planning.

Contact me for a special guest pricing on Feb 9th and 10th in San Francisco.

Ed.

About Predictive Analytics and Business Insights 2015Predictive Analytics & Business Insights 2015 is a vendor-neutral event featuring learning sessions and case studies from some of the leading thought leaders working in analytics and business intelligence today. In today’s marketplace, good analytics are the key differentiator for smarter decision making and gaining competitive advantage. An organization’s ability to harness and leverage the wealth of available organizational data is a key factor in effective, strategic and tactical planning.Predictive Analytics & Business Insights 2015 is a comprehensive learning and networking opportunity designed specifically for business professionals from across functional backgrounds who use analytics in their planning and forecasting process. This comprehensive event combines technical, strategy sessions as well as case studies to display practical usages of predictive and business analytics.

Predictive Analytics & Business Insights 2015 is a unique opportunity for those looking to expand their ability to effectively leverage analytics to predict future events relative to their business. Attendees will instantly realize the difference between this forum and other conferences. Learning sessions are vendor agnostic and there are NO sales pitches. Presentations will be conducted by the most talented corporate experts and thought leaders, both regionally and nationally.

Read More...

How to Transform Salesforce.com into a Competitive Sales Analysis App Using Intelligent Agents

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

8 January, 2015 | Posted in Competitive Intelligence, Competitive methodology, Competitive Sales, Positioning, Sales Enablement, Sales Guidance, Uncategorized

I’ve been asked to discuss my views on how Competitive Intelligence is changing in 2015 with Arik Johnson of AuroraWDC. Many of you know that I am a strong proponent that Competitive Intelligence today must change with the markets. The days of long-drawn out projects based on the traditional CI methodology are over. Today, we need immediate on-demand intelligence solutions. That means utilizing Intelligence based systems to help us.

Join us on the 21st. I’d like to hear what your thoughts are…

Sign up at: http://aurorawdc.com/how-to-transform-salesforce-com-into-a-competitive-sales-analysis-app-using-intelligent-agents-intelcollab-webinar

How to Transform Salesforce.com into a Competitive Sales Analysis App Using Intelligent Agents

The Next IntelCollab Webinar from Aurora WDC
12:00 Noon Eastern /// Wednesday 21 January 2015
~ featuring ~

Ed Allison is Co-Founder and Managing Director at Compelligence Arik Johnson

Arik Johnson is Founder & Chairman at Aurora WDC

How will you compete in and win more deals in 2015?

You could simply work harder… but you probably already work hard enough. You could hire more analysts… but that requires getting requisitions approved and lots of training. You could stop doing less productive work… but those “less-productive” tasks usually are required by your management.

These are the things people typically do when trying to be smarter about competition. But will all of this ensure you deliver intelligence to the entire firm when and where they need it, both strategically and tactically?

The problem is that competition really isn’t just a matter of work, it’s a matter of scale. Consider this: If you have 100 sales people competing against five competitors with 10 opportunities per sales person each quarter, that represents 4,000 opportunities for intelligence delivery and collection per year. Each of those could be 1 of 5^4 (625) strategies. Do you have the tools and know-how to scale to that and deliver quarterly assessments to your strategic planners?

Adding intelligent agents will help you meet these challenges. Learn how you must use tools and systems in 2015 in order to win more deals, learn more from the field, and collect systematic information from the environment.

Learning objectives:

Understand how systems can conduct and deliver competitive analysis to sales teams at scale.
Learn how to apply machine analysis to environmental scanning increasing the relevancy of news analysis.
Discover how Competitive Intelligence and Analysis techniques are changing based on a changing world of new data management tools.
Working to change the way companies compete and win, Ed Allison is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Compelligence, Inc., a competitive, market and sales intelligence platform. Ed previously served as a competitive team leader at Cisco Systems, Symbol Technologies, Juniper Networks and Polycom. In his most recent engagement, Ed helped Polycom, the leader in video communications, grow from a $1B to a $1.4B annual sales. Ed brings a history of frontline competitive experience. He’s a practitioner, not a theorist, of competitive, market, and customer intelligence leadership at large, marketing-leading technology companies. Ed developed analysis and strategy techniques as a military officer in the U.S. Army (Signal Corp) and has adopted those techniques to strategic planning and sales effectiveness. Ed Allison speaks regularly at industry events such as Frost & Sullivan Mind eXchange, The Altamont Group executive education series, Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) and other industry events.

Ed will present 30 minutes on how you must use tools and systems in 2015 in order to win more deals and will be joined by webinar moderator Arik Johnson, Founder & Chairman at Aurora WDC.

The second half of the hour will continue with questions from the online audience and thoughts on what the future holds for helping business leaders make more confident decisions in uncertain times, concluding with a description of the next webinar and other upcoming activities in the Intelligence Collaborative series.

We hope you can join us.

Read More...

Join our Keynote Presentation at Altamont Group’s Business Forecasting 2014 Summit and Save 50% on Registration

altamontgroup

11 August, 2014 | Posted in Competitive Intelligence, Competitive methodology

Join Ed Allison from Compelligence at Altamont Group’s Competitive Intelligence Analytics and Insights 2014 Summit!

Ed Allison will be a keynote speaker Altamont Group’s Competitive Intelligence Analytics & Insights 2014.  This event is taking place August 18-19th in San Francisco.  This summit features two-days of excellent professional level education and networking for practitioners in Competitive Intelligence, Market Research, Business Development, Product Management and Strategic Planning.  Case studies, hands-on workshops, and innovative best-practice sessions will be presented by some of the most innovative practitioners, thought leaders and methodologists working in competitive intelligence today.  Discussions are made in an intimate, vendor-free setting.  Presenters from Compelligence, IBM, McAfee, Hewlett-Packard, Underwriters Laboratories are just a few of the leading organizations that will be sharing their lessons learned and innovative strategies.

Mention Compelligence for a reduced 50% rate!!

Ed Allison from Compelligence will lead two sessions:

11AM-12PM on Monday, August 18th – CI only crowd

Disruptive Thinking in Competitive Strategy

Identify disruptive competition and develop disruptive innovation to gain competitive advantage

– Combine disruptive innovation practices with strategic market intelligence to optimize positioning and differentiation

– Spot changes that will be revolutionary to your business or product strategy

– Leverage existing product or organizational capabilities that have not yet been exploited to enact market change

– Visualize how competitors are changing your marketplace directly or indirectly and develop tactics to take action

 

9:45-10:45 AM on Tuesday, August 19th – Forecasting only crowd

Evidence-Based Decision Making

Transition data into meaningful strategic and tactical insights for analytics and forecasting excellence

– Utilize the wealth of historical organizational data to make informed decisions

– Optimize the quantity and quality of useful information

– Implement evolving techniques to help drive effective strategy planning and execution

– Leverage technology for improved accuracy, deeper business knowledge and real time decision making

Register or find out more at  www.BusinessForecasting2014.com

Read More...

Why I left a competitive intelligence leadership position in a large corporation to join a CI start-up

door sunshine in

23 July, 2014 | Posted in Competitive Intelligence

Hi. My name is Ed Allison and I am proud to join Mitch Emerson and the rest of the team as a managing partner at Compelligence.

People keep asking me, “Ed, why did you leave a great  competitive intelligence leadership role in a large corporation to join a CI start-up?”

My response to them usually revolves around the following things

  • Because competitive practices are becoming more critical for businesses
  • Because traditional techniques for competitive intelligence have failed
  • I believe I can help change that

Compelligence is the result of a combined 20 years of practical Competitive Intelligence experience gained not in academia, a consulting firm, or a branch of government, but rather from front-line practical experience building numerous successful Competitive Intelligence teams at multiple firms. This company is a new, unique idea that grew from the hard lessons learned supporting sales teams, product managers & marketeers and executives.  We are not about theory, but rather we are about making a real and measurable difference in business.

My own career started in the U.S. Army where I participated in multiple tactical and strategic operations and planning events where I observed the importance of undestanding your advisory.  After joining corporate America I learned how corporations apply competitive intelligence techniques.  I read the books and blogs, worked with consultants, and attended local and national SCIP events.  I saw what was working and what wasn’t.

I’ve applied the techniques that work, and in my last role I more than doubled the size of my competitive team, assisted in over $150M in business, prepared analysis for executive teams and the board of directors, and increased the satisfaction with the competitive team from a negative to positive based on internal surveys.

What I learned through my career at Cisco, Symbol Technologies (now Motorola), Juniper Networks and Polycom and my work with others in the Competitive Intelligence industry is that the traditional Competitive Intelligence techniques that are based on outdated thought processes simply don’t work.  We know what does.

So why did I leave?

Because I want to change the competitive industry; I want to help progress a profession;  and I love to help companies win.

I’ve changed from taking a competitive intelligence leadership role at a single company, to taking a role that hopefully will influence the competitive intelligence industry.

I welcome your thoughts in the comments below.

Ed.

Read More...

Let Sales Teams be the Red Bull to your Competitive Intelligence Teams

ID-100224048

29 April, 2014 | Posted in Competitive Intelligence, Competitive Sales, Sales Enablement

You’ve likely heard the slogan “Red Bull gives you wings.” The suggestion is that when a person drinks Red Bull, they are instantly energized to do things they could not do in a non-Red-Bull induced state. Well, the same concept is true with competitive intelligence (CI) teams and sales teams in a company. It’s easy to see how sales people can benefit from having useful competitive intelligence. What is not commonly recognized, though, is that CI teams are also more effective when they are closely allied with their sales teams. For instance, sales people can collect intelligence about the competition’s positioning, selling strategies, product specifics, and selling strategies.  They also are well aware of how effective the competitor’s sales tactics are relative to their own strategies. This information is extremely valuable to a well-tuned CI organization and can help that CI organization provide analysis and insight on how to improve a company’s revenues.

Sales Teams are Key to Competitive Intelligence Collection

Successful organizations make information gathering as much a part of their sales process as they do the actual sales activities. During our webinar on April 22, Ellen Naylor noted that sales people come into contact with a wealth of information such as new products to be introduced and new competitors coming into the market. Last year Joël Le Bon wrote that, “The sales force has abundant information about the initiatives and products that your competitors are planning and, therefore, the kinds of choices that your customers will be facing in the near future.” This makes sense. Sales professionals are on the front lines, so to speak, when they meet with customers, visit suppliers and manufacturers, attend conferences, and work at trade shows booths. In each case, valuable information can be gleaned about a competitor’s sales tactics, product lines, model specifications, and market trends. Sales people are sometimes the first to hear about new technologies that competing companies are developing or are about to offer, and sales representatives can learn about service contracts their competitors are providing

Collection Sources and Methods

So, what can sales people do to collect competitor information? The easy answer is to keep their eyes and ears open. When meeting with customers, sales representatives should listen intently about what other companies are pitching; ask the customers about the products and service plans they’ve been offered by the competition; and learn as much as possible about the customer’s needs. At trade shows, sales representatives should visit competitors’ booths and pick-up literature. They can also participate in conversations about the industry and listen to what is being said about companies, products, and new trends. When manning their own booths, reps can elicit information from visitors about competitor’s products. And when they talk with suppliers, vendors and other intermediaries, sales reps can ask about a competitor’s future rollouts, product specifications, models prices, services options, and customer demand for competitor’s products.

Getting Intelligence Back to the CI team is Critical

When reps return to their companies, they need to have an easy way to convey what they learned to the people who can analyze, assimilate, and distribute it. One way to do this is to have a designated point of contact within the CI to communicate their findings. Some companies may develop a specific type of debrief or report format that helps sales reps distribute raw information, and helps the CI department and other organizations within the company use it. An even better way to do this is to use a collection system that can keep track of those designated analysts and which can automatically route intelligence to them.

CI educates the sales teams on intelligence requirements and value

Although sales professionals are indeed those people who make first contact with sources of information that can be useful for strategic purposes, they may not be aware of the importance of that information. When this happens, they may neglect to collect it. Ellen Naylor noted that sales professionals are high-impact people that have strong customer orientation and who are always questioning the benefit of activities they participate in. A CI department that proactively educates sales personnel on the importance of collecting and reporting information will be much more successful. CI professionals can educate the sales field about the types of competitive intelligence that they are likely to encounter and instill a resolve to collect it. It is also important to provide the sales force with feedback on how specific information was used, what decisions were made from it, and what strategies resulted from the collection effort. This feedback helps the sales force better understand their role and contribution to the overall strategic health of the company, and it will motivate sales reps to collect and report more. As I noted earlier, a process that makes it easy for sales teams to report intelligence after customer visits will help elicit information from sales.

CI-Sales Give and Take

It is this give-and-take relationship between CI and sales that allows a company to increase their competitive effectiveness: CI teams provide competitive guidance to sales, sales teams can collect new information and report it back to CI teams, and the CI teams in turn analyze, process, and update the material they provide back to sales. It is critical that the CI team demonstrates that obligation to the sales teams, and that the sales teams reciprocate by providing feedback.   And it also helps if your CI teams are well-stocked with Red Bull.

 

COMING UP NEXT!

In my next entries I’d like to discuss the types and value of competitive intelligence to the sales force. Topics I’ll cover will include:

  • How CI teams can help sales people increase their sales effectiveness.
  • How sales can verify the efficacy of their company strategy.

Read More...

Four Ways to Improve Competitive Sales

competitive sales

1 February, 2014 | Posted in Competitive Intelligence, Competitive Sales

Every sales deal today is really a competitive sales engagement.  It is tempting to think that a customer is only considering your product or service. But with the ease of finding out information on the Internet,  every customer is researching not just your company, but also your competitors.  The fact is that sales people have to face competition, one way or another, in every single deal they encounter.  So why do many companies make this a difficult process?  Sales people frequently do not have the right competitive sales tools or easy access to competitive sales guidance.  Most of the time they have to hunt this information down on their own or build it from scratch.

If this sounds familiar in your company, here are four ways you can alleviate the stress of competitive sales.

Read more →

Read More...

“It Won’t Happen To Me”: Optimism Bias and Competitive Intelligence

head-in-the-sand

21 October, 2013 | Posted in Competitive Intelligence, Competitive Sales

I remember when my 16 year-old daughter got her driver’s license.  She took her lessons, practiced on the road, and passed the test.  Thrilled at her success and potential for independence, her demeanor about driving quickly changed.  The cautious girl behind the wheel that I gave lessons to only a few short weeks prior, suddenly, apparently, was granted knowledge of everything there is to know about safe driving.  “I don’t need to buy insurance because I won’t get in an accident!”  “I’m very careful so there’s nothing to worry about.”  Those of you with teenagers are probably familiar with this scenario.  All the warnings in the world about safe driving techniques and accidents couldn’t deter her. She had the “It won’t happen to me syndrome.”  Of course, several weeks later she got in her first fender-bender and was dumb-found on how it could have happened.

Read more →

Read More...

Like Selling Ice to an Eskimo: The Trouble With Information

14 May, 2013 | Posted in Competitive Intelligence, Competitive methodology

You know the old saying about trying to sell ice to Eskimos. Common sense notwithstanding, it still happens all the time. What’s worse is that you’ve probably been on the receiving end of it.

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that you need better information to make sure that sales happen as efficiently as possible in your company. But choosing the perfect schema for your company’s competitive intelligence needs can be daunting.

There are many services that compile, sort, or assess massive amounts of information from across the Internet. These service providers will tell you that you don’t know enough about the market or the competition, or that you cannot adequately use information without some kind of automated searching tool. They say you need more information in order to be more informed. They want to sell you ice.

We have a revolutionary idea here at Compelligence: you don’t need more information; you just need better access to the information you already have.

Read more →

Read More...