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7 Sources of competitive intelligence for strategic management

7 sources of competitive intelligence

Competitive intelligence is an important aspect of strategic management. It helps decision-makers measure their performance against rivals and make effective future strategies. However, in an age of surplus information, sifting through the right sources for meeting specific goals and objectives can be difficult. If you’re responsible for driving the strategy of your organization, here are the top external sources of competitive intelligence that should be on your radar.

1. Competitor websites

Your website is the window to the world. So it goes without saying that studying a competitor’s website can provide tremendous insight into the way they operate. Apart from corporate information such as their products, leadership team, and geographic presence, websites can tell you a lot about their marketing strategies. For example, press releases will reveal the latest company news, such as market expansion, partnerships, and product changes. Analyzing their website content and user experience using tools such as Google Analytics provides insight into their positioning, traffic, keywords, and search ranking. Job descriptions posted on their careers page can provide an inside-view on current projects, investment areas, as well as their organizational structure.

2. Annual reports

Annual reports are a reliable source of company data such as revenues, employee numbers, history, business growth strategies, stakeholders, subsidiaries, and so on. They offer a comprehensive view of your competitor’s activities and their financial health.

3. Premium databases

In situations where freely-available information is limited, paid databases like CapitalIQ and Factiva can be useful sources of competitive intelligence. These databases provide in-depth information on companies, products, pricing, investments, innovation, among other business information.

4. Syndicated reports/ analyst reports

When it comes to uncovering industry benchmarks and best practices, syndicated research reports are incredibly valuable. They provide viable information on everything from market-related numbers to trends, growth forecasts to industry-specific company profiles. This offers an overview of your focus market, including the key players in your industry, how they differentiate themselves, and how their services map with market needs, providing greater clarity of your competitive landscape.

5. Primary research

Companies looking for granular insight on their competition can conduct primary research, such as surveys, interviews or mystery shopping. Primary information gathered from suppliers, distributors, customers, and even industry thought leaders offer insight on competitor products/services that might not be available elsewhere. Data collected via primary sources help in understanding buyer behavior towards your products versus your competition, helping you refine your marketing strategy according to evolving customer needs. 

6. Social media

Social media platforms and online forums are a gold mine of customer and competitive intelligence. Analyzing social media conversations can reveal how your brand compares to your competition in terms of customer sentiment and share-of-voice helping you inform your brand strategy. Honest, unfiltered feedback about your competitors’ can offer insight into your own products and services. These insights can then be used to inform your product and marketing strategies. Additionally, tracking your rival’s social profiles can help you stay informed on their latest developments, events they are sponsoring or participating in, collaborations, messaging, among others.

7. Patent databases

Analyzing your competitors’ patent portfolio can reveal the products they are building, the direction of their R&D and help you devise effective innovation strategies accordingly. Addressing the gaps in your IP can help you stay better prepared for potential disruptions in your industry due to technological innovation.

Competitive intelligence is key to identifying strategic opportunities across the organization. But to translate intelligence into actionable insight, it’s important to evaluate the various facets of the market along with its participants. That’s why Netscribes takes a multi-dimensional approach to competitive intelligence which combines data from various internal and external sources.

Netscribes works with organizations across the globe inform both strategic and tactical decisions through holistic research and insights. To request a consultation, contact [email protected].

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