Competitive intelligence is the ability to gather, analyze, and apply information about competitors, customers, and other market factors. These factors are responsible for a company’s competitive advantage.
No business can operate in a vacuum. Every business is a part of a much larger global market, as well as smaller regional markets inhabited by thousands of other businesses like it. Thus, knowing who your competitors are or what you are up against is critical for effectively running your business. If the goal of your organization is continual improvement, you must be informed of what your competitors are doing in order to outperform them.
Competitive intelligence is not a new concept; businesses have been tracking their competitors’ moves since the dawn of time. Competitive monitoring, on the other hand, has become more sophisticated as the market landscape has evolved. In some cases, it’s even a way to figure out what you do more effectively than your competitors, so you can keep getting better.
Let’s start with a definition of competitor monitoring and the distinction between it and competitive intelligence.
What is Competitor Monitoring?
Competitor monitoring is the process of regularly tracking your competitors, as well as the market and business environment. It aids in the collection of information about the competition, market trends, and competitive products and services. Competitive monitoring is a procedure that can be used to make a variety of strategic business decisions.
What is Competitive Intelligence?
When information gathered during competitive monitoring is analyzed and found to be relevant, it is referred to as “competitive intelligence.” Competitive intelligence can be used as the primary foundation for making strategic decisions that give your organization a competitive advantage.
Competitive intelligence can also be used to perform a competitive intelligence analysis (or competitive analysis). This can give you an in-depth understanding of a competitor’s products, capabilities, services, value proposition, and weaknesses.
Importance of Competitive Intelligence
Competitive intelligence is critical for all organizations, large and small. As previously stated, data analysis enables organizations to better understand their competitors’ products, pricing, sales strategies, and marketing, thereby informing their own business strategies. Monitoring competitors regularly provides benefits such as:
- Up-to-date and relevant business information: Intelligence is worthless if it is out of date. To be actionable, intelligence must be gathered before your competitors act, which is why regular competitive monitoring is essential.
- Improved understanding of market developments and potential threats: Competitive monitoring provides a general understanding of market developments and potential threats to an organization. As a result, it can better anticipate competitors’ moves, develop counterstrategies, identify untapped market opportunities, and avoid potential losses.
- To test increased company responsiveness, ask a simple question such as, “How long does it take your firm to respond to a business question?” For example, “When did our competitor begin offering this specific feature?” However, this is a reactive strategy. We know our opponent is planning to release this new feature; what can we do to prevent this move under normal competitive intelligence?
What should you be monitoring?
Competitive monitoring will provide you with a competitive advantage, but only if you know what to monitor. What specific data points should you be looking for? Here’s the solution:
1. Competitors’ Websites
A competitor’s website is a veritable gold mine of information when it comes to competitive monitoring. Intel gathered from competitors’ websites is a goldmine of information that can provide insight into their key investment areas, product strategy, marketing strategy, sales strategy, and overall business growth. You can also learn about their executives, news, investors, events, pricing, products and packaging, thought leadership, and other topics that will help you compete.
Knowing the company’s key personnel, in particular, can help you determine what your competitors truly look like, i.e., the people who drive their business.
When your sales team is on the phone with a potential customer, knowing how your competitor is positioning themselves, as well as their prices and features, gives them the information they need to close a competitive deal.
2. News Mentions
News mentions are an important component of competitive tracking because monitoring what is said about your competitors in the media is a key source of insights into their operations. What is revealed in the news can have an impact on your own business plans, such as market positioning, direction, popularity, changes at the C-suite level, and product modifications. It is critical to monitor a company’s press release page because it provides an indication of what they want their existing and new customers to care about. Another way to understand your competitor’s advantages is to be aware of the honors and accolades they have received.
News can also help you figure out what angles and stories they’re pitching, as well as which media outlets they’re pitching to, so you can see if you can persuade them to write about you as well. Knowing how your competitors are positioning themselves can help you develop a unique strategy to differentiate your company or brand.
3. Social Media
Having a strong social media presence is essential nowadays. Businesses post a lot of content on social media to promote upcoming events, thought leadership, new products, staff updates, support, and so on. It is prudent to monitor the social media channels where your competitors receive the most interaction, as well as the conversations and information they post. This can help you develop your own social media strategy, learn about issues in your industry, and connect with thought leaders who provide insightful commentary on related topics.
As a result, it provides a source of data from which they can carefully monitor their company’s current and future operations, as well as how they interact with their clients and customers. This can help you identify the various components of your overall business strategy, allowing you to make your next move with confidence and knowledge.
4. Review Websites
Review websites such as G2, Capterra, and others are also good places to look for information. In addition to assessing your own customer satisfaction, it is extremely beneficial to learn what customers of your competitors think of their goods and services. This can provide useful information about your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, which you can use to improve your own product or service.
Review sites can also show what current and former employees have to say about a company. Your sales teams can use this information, for better or worse, to position your company in front of clients by emphasizing their weaknesses as your strengths. It can also assist recruitment teams in more effectively presenting your company’s culture to potential employees.
5. Marketing Emails
What could be better than hearing from your competitors about what’s going on at their company? Signing up for your competitors’ marketing emails ensures that you’ll receive a steady stream of useful information about the type of content they’re sharing, events they plan to attend or sponsor, news mentions, and upcoming webinars that can be attended to learn more.
6. Job Postings
Your competitors’ hiring practices may reveal a lot about their company’s current priorities. Monitoring the location of the posting, the number of openings, the positions, and the length of time it has been active may provide you with information about your competitors’ development and future strategic plans. Look for patterns in the number of job listings; for example, if you notice an increase in the number of product- and sales-related job ads in a specific area, it’s likely that your competition is developing and preparing to launch a new product.
How to Monitor Competitors?
The internet is your most valuable resource for conducting competitive monitoring and gathering competitive intelligence. If you try to gather competitive intelligence on your competitors and the market by hand, you will quickly become lost in a sea of data and overwhelmed by the number of challenges it presents.
Even if you are able to filter out specific information through careful internet research, the process takes time. How will you ensure that your data is accurate and complete? Not everything on the internet is true or accurate, and you may end up with outdated information, waste time analyzing incorrect data, or even miss out on new businesses trying to enter your industry. How would you know if you missed something?
As a result of these factors, you need a market and competitive intelligence tool that can identify your competitors, gather reliable data, evaluate it, and present it to you in a clear manner so that you can use it to refine your business strategy.
Competitive monitoring is only the first step in transforming your organization into a more competitively intelligent organization. Utilize the intelligence you gather to create competitive analysis, share it with key stakeholders, and incorporate it into sales enablement.
Using XLSCOUT’s competitive intelligence platform (Company Explorer) you can qualitatively analyze a competitor’s patent portfolio to help you gain solid information for competitive leverage. A statistical process, advanced patent analytics, and a semantic search engine effectively identify the quality of intellectual assets.
The report generated from the analysis can act as a supplement to your expertise. It provides you with new actionable perspectives on intellectual property, patent competition, the marketplace, and other topics.
What exactly are you waiting for?
A comprehensive competitive intelligence tool must mine as well as analyze data. XLSCOUT’s AI-based tools begin and conclude your searches with meaning. This gives you an advantage in understanding the competitive landscape, anticipating your competitors’ moves, and identifying market opportunities.
XLSCOUT provides you with a competitive dashboard where you can compare the portfolios of different competitors and extract different insights like their filing trends, top problems they are trying to solve, their technology investments, their collaborations, their core patents, etc. With just a few clicks, it creates a patent landscape report tailored to your needs.