By this time you are already convinced that you need a lot of information on your competitors. How do you gather information on your competitive environment? The answer lies in the design of a competitive intelligence system.
If you collect information using a competitive intelligence system, you cannot be inundated with useless and irrelevant information. The system’s design should be such that it helps you save money and provide timely and accurate information on your competitors.
You should encourage everyone in the organization to provide competitive information to the concerned person or department. You may also form a team to collect and scan information on this.
In designing such an intelligence system, you should follow a logical process consisting of four steps;
- Setting Up the System
- Collecting the Data
- Evaluating and Analyzing Data
- Disseminating Information and Responding
Step # 1: Setting Up the System
In this very first step, you first identify the types of competitive information that you need. Next, you locate the source(s) of such information, and finally, you assign responsibility to a person for managing such a system.
Step # 2: Collecting the Data
In the second step, you go for collecting the necessary data.
Remember, data collection is a continuous process. You may collect data from a number of sources of which your salesforce, channel members, suppliers, market research firms, trade associations, competitors’ employees, competitors’ channel members, and suppliers are important ones.
You may also observe competitors and analyze physical evidence.
Besides, you may rely on different published data as well as browse the internet. While collecting data, you should note that all of the techniques you apply are neither legal nor ethical. You should develop an effective and efficient way of collecting information giving due to legal restrictions and ethical norms.
Step # 3: Evaluating and Analyzing Data
While evaluating the collected data, you should first go for their validity and reliability checks. After they pass the validity and reliability checks, you may organize and interpret them for policy formulation.
Step #4: Disseminating Information and Responding
After the analysis is done, the key information should be passed to the concerned persons to help them decide.
The competitive intelligence system helps the company get on-time information as well as predicting competitors’ move. This can help a company taking measures on time and making its position strong in the face of competition.
You should appreciate that every company cannot afford to maintain such a system because of resources (both man and money) constraints. In such a situation, the concerned personnel himself should follow the competitors’ measures closely to measure his observation.