The Basics of CI: Success Thru Simplicity

In the world of market research and competitive intelligence we are frequently bombarded with new methodologies, buzzwords and catchphrases. These layers of complexity can sometimes paralyze practitioners even in taking the most basic action (we’ve all heard of paralysis by analysis). So, let’s step back to the basics of targeted and effective competitive intelligence. At a recent competitive intelligence conference, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a round table discussion with manufacturer stakeholders discussing CI needs and resourcing effectively as so many data sources are available today.

Of course, first I would recommend that a culture of competitive intelligence be established within the organization. In order for any organization to buy into a system or process the VALUE must be established and how the value is demonstrated lies inherently in the basic tenant of CI which is getting answers to critical questions. In this wonderful age of information overload, we are losing sight of generating TRUE intelligence versus producing noise by passing on every news story. Remember our audience is senior leadership whose time (and email inbox) is being contested for by everyone in your organization. Want them to read something? Make it relevant to their success. So…. How do you realize this goal?

Here is a time-tested process on demonstrating value:

“Know What You Don’t Know”

Begin the process with the strategic imperatives (Top-down approach) as this first step is relatively easy to complete but often lost in that maze of mythical methodologies being offered to answer your questions (and earn your budget dollars).

  • What are the strategic imperatives of your organization? They are certainly readily available in the brand plans. It goes under many different names dependent upon the organization. Critical factors for success, accelerators etc.

  • Once those are viewed, what are the gaps in the data? Examples include imperatives such as, minimize the impact on our brands share with the anticipated launch of competitor X or how will the new treatment and diagnosis guidelines impact our brands value proposition.

  • You are NOW onto it! A valuable path to pursue, as a detective would now begin to compile the evidence and clues. What information do we have on the topic? What are the learnings and the most important part is do we have the question answered confidently or does a critical gap exist? Did we define an action standard in confidence?

  • If gaps exist then the next question pursued would be ‘WHERE do we get the information and what sources (secondary or primary) have it? There may come a point in which the answers can only be obtained from human sources thru interviews which will require a third-party consulting firm to acquire the information.

  • Some important notes to remember about competitive intelligence, inherent in the name…its competitive intelligence and not competitor intelligence. They are two similar but separate things Competitive intelligence should be more holistic and include the competition but additional elements that comprise the and impact the market in which you compete. Examples include topics such as govt agencies, disruptive change brought on by technology, diagnostics, treatment guidelines, professional societies and patient advocacy groups.

  • Another Note to remember…as I always remind my kids when it comes to school work…. DON’T be afraid to ask for help! There are many consultants who will be glad to give an opinion on topics without the meter running.

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