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?

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Thoughts on SCIP 2016 and Compelligence

26 May, 2016 | Posted in Uncategorized

Compelligence had the pleasure of attending the SCIP 2016 annual convention in Orlando, FL in May 2016.  I’d like to take a moment and share some thoughts on what I observed, some of my interactions, and thoughts on the future.

First impressions: Lower numbers … What does that mean? Good? Bad? Other?

Overall, I think the final count came out between 400 and 500 attendees including the exhibitors.  This is down from a historic high of over 2000 attendees in the 90’s/early 2000’s.

I would ask the question of our profession:  What does this imply?  Certainly in the past the national convention has drawn a larger audience.  But something to consider is that now, SCIP is more of a global organization with 6 conventions (I believe) around the world?  In general we should consider our profession – are we involved in a practice that is adding significant value to an enterprise to be considered a growing profession?  Is the future bright… or bleak?

Side-bar:  The root cause of this decline (if you consider the decline significant) can be explored on many fronts including the global nature of the profession, the rise of the internet, the changing speed of the market place, or my personal favorite… has the needs of our customers changed vs. our own practices?  … I wonder.

Personally, I am excited!  I think the profession is changing and becoming more a part of everyone’s job and the most important component is going to be how the entire organization becomes an Intelligence Team.  But more on that later…

Second:  What tools support our profession? (from a exhibitor perspective)

SCIP 2016

SCIP 2016 and the Compelligence booth.

There were a healthy number of vendors in attendance coming in around 40.  Generally, I was really impressed with the quality of the vendors in attendance.  Booth’s were polished and attendees were professional.  There was a clear trend around analytics in the software available and big-data solutions were abundant.  Some traditional / old-school knowledge management solutions were on display.  Other groups in attendance were service-providers / research firms including both general managerial consultants to specific market experts.

As a previous practitioner, my general observation is that the landscape of tools has not experienced disruption.  There have been some significant gains in specific areas of search technology, dashboards, and discovery.  But if I were trying to build an Intelligence division, outside of our offer, I didn’t see a solution focused on helping solve the practical, operational problems of building a function.

Sales have Salesforce.com.  Operations have Oracle.  Human Resources have Successfactors.  … What do we have?  (Blatant promotion:  This is the problem we are trying to solve)

Third:  Where does Compelligence fit and what problems do we solve?

Well, I’ll offer a view of this in the next post.  But before I do, I would like to ask you to consider the question.  Do you have a tool on which to base your entire enterprise practice?  You see… a Salesforce.com dashboard is nothing without Salesforce.com and entire organization using and benefiting from it.  What is your platform, your Salesforce.com so to speak, that is grounding your operational excellence program?

What are your thoughts?

Ed & Mitch

 

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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!

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4 Breakthroughs to Increase Win Rates in 2015

3 March, 2015 | Posted in Uncategorized

Wondering how your 2015 will be any different than 2014 competitively?

Want to lose fewer deals to the status quo and to the competition? In this interactive panel discussion, four senior sales leaders show you a holistic framework to

  • Understand the top 6 decisions in the buyers’ process
  • Align your content and conversations to more effectively influence these decisions
  • Assess deals and build sales skills to reduce the risk of losing these decisions
  • Use intelligent systems to increase sales effectiveness and shorten sales cycles

This is how you make BIG sales productivity gains in 2015.

Register to attend today:  https://www.brighttalk.com/r/tPl

It’s time to gain the new tactics, skills and techniques to increase your performance in 2015.

See you on the 11th!

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Ed Allison to present at Predictive Analytics & Business Insight 2015

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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Ed Allison joins Compelligence, Inc. to Help Deliver Competitive Sales Strategies

22 July, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized

Compelligence, Inc. welcomes Edward Allison as Managing Director to help customers build competitive sales strategies

Compelligence expands its leadership team to help redefine what it means to deliver dynamic competitive sales strategies

 

Pismo Beach, CA – July 22, 2014 – Compelligence, Inc. today announced that Ed Allison, who has successfully led competitive teams at Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, Symbol Technologies and Polycom,  has joined the management team in the role of Managing Director working with Mitch Emerson.

Allison will have oversight of the strategic direction, expansion and operation of Compelligence, Inc. in addition to being responsible for client success using the Compelligence system.

“I am looking forward to having Ed on our team,” said Emerson. “He brings a strong passion for competitive intelligence and is an experienced competitive team leader.  His experience will help us to further our unique solution and to provide many powerful insights to our clients. We enable our clients to build competitive sales strategies not only through technology, but also by guiding them through the process of establishing competitive best practices”

“I am thrilled to join Compelligence, and very much look forward to working with clients and making it easier for their sales teams to win competitive deals.” said Allison. “Today’s business environment has evolved and companies face competition from many new directions.  Traditional competitive intelligence techniques, practices and systems are no longer sufficient.  Something needs to change and Compelligence, Inc. has the only solution that delivers on-demand, custom competitive sales strategies that helps team’s win.  I’m excited to help take that solution to the next level.”

Allison joins Compelligence, Inc. from Polycom where he rebuilt the competitive team exceeding all business & financial metrics for his organizaiton.  Prior to Polycom, Ed led competitive teams at Symbol Technologies, Juniper Networks and Cisco Systems.  Allison holds a Master’s Degree from Troy University and Bachelor’s Degree from Shippensburg University.

The Compelligence app enables sales teams to win competitive deals faster by providing them with on-demand, customized sales strategies that are tailored to each deal. Compelligence is currently available as a stand alone cloud solution or on the AppExchange at www.appexchange.com.

Additional Resources

About Compelligence

The Compelligence solution allows companies to create on-demand, account-specific competitive sales strategies that improve win rates.  It is the first of its kind Competitive Marketing Management System. Compelligence is a privately owned corporation that was founded in 2010.

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Competitive Sales Guidance Helps Sales Teams Satisfy and Delight Their Customers

8 May, 2014 | Posted in Competitive Sales, Sales Enablement, Sales Guidance

During our recent Webinar, Ellen Naylor reiterated the importance of the Competitive intelligence (CI) team to be in touch with their sales people and to understand their mindset. “These folks do not make decisions based only on the next sale,” she said. “They also take action to improve their image and that of the company.” Sales people are customer focused. They put themselves in the place of their customers with the purpose of providing long-term satisfaction. The sales team endeavors to provide solutions that enable their customers to reach their goals. The CI team should do the same, treating their colleagues in sales both as partners and customers, and strive to provide solutions that will help sales reps achieve their main goal of increasing sales revenue. To help themselves, the CI team should focus greatly on helping sales. If you research how much companies spend on sales budget as a percentage of revenue, you’ll find a broad range of estimates from 10 – 40%, depending on the industry that the company is in. There are no similar statistics for intelligence spend as a percentage of revenue. The point here is that if CI teams can associate closely with sales teams, they have access to larger budgets. Therefore, it is important for the CI team to get buy in from and to show value to the sales team.

Sales Teams Should be Prepared and Very Adaptable

Sales people ultimately need to be aware of the market that they are selling in. They need to be cognizant of their customers’ interests and need to know how to achieve the best image that is possible in their competitive environment. In its 2014 executive guidance report, CEB notes that:

Most organizations today embrace customer centricity across their operations that affect customers. When it comes to product development, communications, and sales and service, most organizations not only are mindful of customers’ needs but also have deliberately built systems to ensure the customer is the focal point.

Potential customers expect the salesperson to offer better products and terms than their competitors, and they expect top notch service once they have bought into a product. To help meet these expectations, sales people need up-to-date information on their competitors’ products, positioning, and selling points. Sales reps who are able to make the best use of this type of information are those that are best prepared for a meeting with their customer, are highly adaptive, able to interpret a situation more clearly, and better able to adjust their selling approach as is unfolds before them.

Sales Guidance Should Be Easy to Follow

Sales intelligence should provide clear concise guidance, not a lot of information for the rep to mull over. More data means more work for the sales force to review and digest. Therefore, sales intelligence guidance should be easy to use. Sales decks, battle cards, or other sales enablement tools that can be referred to when talking with customers have been known to work well. Sales guidance should not have too much detail, but instead, it should be well structured and easy to follow. Useful sales guidance will help the team work through difficult blind slides and help the team change their sales approach on the fly. In the end, successful sales guidance allows the rep to answer customer questions quickly and seamlessly.

CI Provides Sales Guidance

CI teams provide intelligence that guides the sales team satisfy and delight their customers. Competitive intelligence guidance describes competitors’ products, provides effective competitive positioning, outlines past customer behavior (buying trends, questions, and concerns), gives tips on how to win over customers, and explains what to do and not to do while talking with the customer.

There are several ways to display and provide sales intelligence. Innovative systems such as Compelligence are available to compartmentalize and display information to make it readily available when the sales rep is in front of the customer. The Compelligence system is like an electronic sales deck with information that helps the sales team adapt and prepare for discussions with the customer. With it, CI teams and marketing teams can also provide in-depth competitive product evaluations to help sales reps prepare for discussions and updates on competitor marketing strategies and market positioning.

Communication Between CI and Sales is Crucial for Success

CI professionals should provide their sales colleagues with intelligence that helps to satisfy and delight the customer. Cultivating a rich source of intelligence on competitors’ projects and products, as well as any new market insights, gives the sales team time to be strategic and natural in their response to customer concerns. It is essential that a company’s sales and CI people communicate regularly to come to a common understanding of what type of sales intelligence is needed and how it will be packaged. The CI team should help sales reps by providing concise sales guidance that will help reps prepare for meetings, refine their message, make the sale, and keep the customer satisfied even after the sale has been completed.

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