What is competitive intelligence?
In one sentence: Competitive intelligence is data gathered on your competition and business environment that is compiled, sorted, and analyzed for strategic decision-making.
As much as we would like to leave our answer at that, competitive intelligence expands far beyond the end product. Similarly, it is more than just a collection of search engine results or facts collected from relevant news articles, requiring structure and purpose. Like ingredients for a cake, unless mixed together and baked into the final product, raw data is just that — data. Competitive intelligence is data with a purpose, gathered to enable better decision making in the work place. At the end of the day, competitive intelligence allows those who acquire it to take confident actions upon it.
Who uses competitive intelligence?
In one sentence: Anyone in the business world can use competitive intelligence, not just c-level executives or managing directors.
The purpose of competitive intelligence is to make more informed decisions based on what the business environment looks like and what your competitors are doing. This is a strategic benefit for anyone at any company, whether it’s a startup or a Fortune 500 company, because no one has access to perfect information. But the lack of perfect information is major problem that competitive intelligence exists to tackle. Let’s take for example a business development intern at a startup assigned to target a competitor’s clients. Competitive intelligence aims to deliver all of the relevant information on her company’s competitors, from clients to product lineup. Unlike simply aggregating online search results, which anyone can do, competitive intelligence takes all of the possible bits of information available and sorts through them to provide reliable data. Because of its breadth, competitive intelligence has the necessary data points for standard functions within a company, even if one person is taking on multiple roles.
Why does competitive intelligence matter?
In one sentence: Without competitive intelligence, a company is left to make aimless strategic decisions or, worse yet, try to find information on its business environment or competitors on its own.
Maybe you’re a multimillion-dollar company that has your business model figured out and you have the resources and time to waste. Even in that case, you are accountable to someone (e.g. your investors or your spouse). But if you are still trying to grow, you have to optimize for growth using as few resources as possible. Business researchers consistently agree that a company’s most limited and valued resource is time. Money is probably a close second, but the fact of the matter is that resources are limited. You don’t have the time to take on your competition with baseless strategies, and while it would be great to take the time to get familiar with every aspect of your competition, you have day to day decisions to make. Competitive intelligence prepares you to confident make strategic choices for your company without costing you too much time. You win by having someone else bring to you the information that you need, when you need it.
Where do I get competitive intelligence?
In one sentence: Tons of places (!) but at a price ranging from nothing up to the thousands.
While there are plenty of resources out there that will give you specific data points, few provide it to you with the consistency, comprehension, and freedom that you need. Funding an internal competitive intelligence program can be pricey, as you need to hire business researchers and data analysts to compile and process the data that you’re looking for. If — like most companies — you don’t have the time and resources for this, you can invest in one or several business intelligence platforms. There are plenty of sites out there that deliver to you “insights”, “business intelligence”, “competitor analysis”, “market intelligence”, or “business research” — for a hefty price.
That’s where Owler comes in. Owler provides you with competitive intelligence and nothing less. For free! Owler was designed to provide business professionals with reliable and noise-free competitive intelligence when they need it most about his or her business environment and competitors. In curated intelligence reports, Owler delivers you the most important information — and doesn’t bother you with anything else. Owler’s alerts are daily and event driven. The reports will notify you of the biggest news on companies you care about: funding, acquisitions, and general updates.
Competitive intelligence doesn’t have to cost your company an arm and a leg, and it’s not something that you can decide to not care about. Competitive intelligence provides you with the necessary edge to outsmart your competition and be a business leader in your market environment. In 2008, a study by McKinsey (the leader in business management consulting) reported that an overwhelming majority of executives and decision makers in all regions and industries found out about a competitive move too late to respond to it before it hit the market. There are also the positive effects of getting competitive intelligence to consider: besides saving time, companies generally produce higher quality products, increased revenue, and faster growth as a result, and that should be incentive enough.