Competitive intelligence is the process of gathering, examining and distributing information pertaining to competitors, products, customers and any aspect of the business landscape required to support those making strategic decisions for the business. Competitive intelligence also aims to improve the organization’s competitiveness.
The Competitive Intelligence cycle includes the following:
1. Planning & Direction
This step includes the management and deciding on what intelligence it requires and the competitive intelligence analyst deciding which direction to pursue to successfully accomplish the task.
2. Collection & Research
During this step, the collection of raw information for intelligence purposes is accomplished. The information sources used are those that are publicly accessible. This means that if the practitioner knows where to look, the information can be discovered.
3. Analysis & Production
Analysis, synthesis and distillation are at the heart of Competitive Intelligence. Analysis is considered the most difficult aspect of the intelligence cycle. The next step of CI analyst is to compile different patterns and separate industry events to expose the larger picture and select suitable actions.
4. Dissemination & Delivery
This is the final step in the competitive intelligence cycle and involves sharing the intelligence product to those who requested it. At this stage, recommend and probable courses of action based on the intelligence are made.
A formalized competitive intelligence program can predict the actions of competitors and changes in the marketplace. It can also help you find prospective or new competitors.