The goals of this blog are:
1. A place to ask for advice on CI issues
2. Learn about CI trends, techniques, and events
3. Discuss CI topics
Competitive Intelligence is a sensitive subject so please follow these rules. Please do not request or discuss confidential or proprietary information about any individual or organization unless the information has been published in another venue prior to publication on KnowledgeIsPower. All are welcome to express their views and pose questions. However, I reserve the right to edit or remove inappropriate language or postings or those comments which violate the spirit of the site.
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Ask first who is your internal “customer base?” The C-suite, marketing, sales, strategic planning, all of them? Satisfying all of them would be extremely difficult. CI is usually aligned with one function, generally the one to which it reports. Have the frank talk with your manager about how much effort should be expended for each internal customer and track your effort accordingly.
After you have completed your list of internal sources, make a list of potential external sources. These could include third parties with whom you are friendly such as industry watchers, employees at data providers, customers, and economic development people. All these could have good information and be willing to talk.
A CI pioneer said that eighty percent of what you need to know already exists within your organization. Are you taking advantage of this knowledge? Talk to people in other functions to develop important channels of communication:
*Ask sales about tactics of competitors
*Ask marketing about new products and messages seen at trade shows
*Ask purchasing about pricing for products and services used multiple competitors
Make a list of potential sources within your firm and reach out to them. You’ll be surprised at what you can find out.
Here's the description of the meeting: As an interaction designer, have you been asked to do some competitive research of other products in your industry? How do you do this research? What are the techniques and tools? What are the ethical considerations?
We are going to spend the evening with members of the Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals from the Boston area. We'll share a little about what we do and SCIP will share about what they do. By the end of the meeting, we'll know a little more about each other's professions and walk away with new tools to add to our "toolbox" for the next time we need to do some competitive research.
Don't miss out on a night of great interaction design fun, food, and drink!
There are a limited number of seats, so register now on eventbrite.com. Go to Boston eventbrite.com and search for Interaction Design and Competitive Intelligence.
“Do nothing” or “No change” is one of your least understood competitors. The upfront costs of making a change mean that the on-going benefits need to be significant, in terms of lower costs, increased productivity, or additional functionality. If the current situation is good enough, even if less functional than your alternative, the prospect will not make the change. If you have time to make a salad or a cake from scratch, then you will probably not buy bagged salad or bakery products. If your PC is old, but fast enough for email, you have no real need to upgrade to a faster model. So be sure that your product has enough value to overcome the good enough syndrome.
Michelle Winter, Manager Global Chapters and Volunteer Initiatives, SCIP: 703.739.0696 x 115 email@example.com.
ARE YOU LinkedIn?
Are you LinkedIn with the MA Chapter? If you aren’t, join the SCIP Boston Chapter Group on LinkedIn! Find us at:
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?about=&gid=2200786&trk=anet_ug_grppro where you can start and join discussions, hear about upcoming local events, view job postings, and more!
Take Route 95 S or N depending on your starting point
Take exit 22 onto Grove St, Newton
Bear right onto Grove St.
Pass the Riverside MBTA station
Turn left into the office park
Drive to the back of the building
Rebecca’s is on your right once you enter the building
From Boston by car:
Take the Mass Pike to the Route 95 North exit
Follow the directions above
From Boston by the T:
Take the Green line to Riverside
Exit the T, turn left
275 Grove is the first office building on the same side as the Riverside Station
If your competitors are selling for less than you are, consider researching their costs. Studying your competitors’ cost structures requires a lot of detail, and therefore, a lot of work, but can yield surprising insights that could change your operating philosophies and practices. Are they using different machinery, different ratio of labor and machinery, overseas manufacturing? What is most important is that you keep an open mind—do not assume that your competitors are operating the same way you are. They probably are not operating the same way and understanding those differences is the key competing effectively.
When I mentioned that I might be involved in an outsourcing project, a friend suggested that I read Tim Ferriss’ 2007 best seller, “The 4-Hour Workweek” which contains descriptions of the multiple ways Ferriss outsourced both his business and his personal work so he could learn to salsa dance and to speak German.
Ferriss, in case you have not heard of him despite this self-promoter’s best efforts, started a brain-stimulating supplement called BrainQUICKEN supposedly endorsed by celebrities (who are not named) and guaranteed to work with 60 minutes. Margins on the product were 80%.
Ferriss worked hard to build his business and then decided he’s rather be traveling the world. So he outsourced most of the operations to a fulfillment house, authorized his staff to make decisions up to $400, and told them that he would check his email regularly, but on a very limited schedule.
He also outsourced personal tasks to the point of having his personal assistant send an apology to his wife for forgetting to pick up cash at the ATM (it worked!). He also advocates limiting reading news to the headlines you can see in the newspaper dispensers. He called it “…putting yourself on a low-information diet.”
Fortunately for him, he sold his BrainQUICKEN business in 2010 because the book does not contain the word “competitor.” Profitable products and marketplaces attract competitors like honey attracts flies. Ferriss assumed he can outsource his life and ignore the potential impact of economic swings, new technology, and changes in consumer behavior on his business. To be honest, he did said that he was approached by two potential buyers of BrainQUICKEN, but both deals fell through. Both companies created their own products which, he said, failed.
He also advocated that employees start “working from home” so they too, can use his advice to increase their productivity and travel the world in the newly discovered spare time, having fun instead of hating their jobs. This advice assumes that their bosses do not discover that they are working from Bora Bora.
Of course, Ferriss’ basic business is self-promotion which will never be eclipsed by changes in the economy, consumers, and technology. He’s laughing all the way to the bank.
I’m still working hard, but I love what I do. I find satisfaction in putting the pieces of a competitive puzzle together to understand first, what the competitor is doing, and secondly, why the company has adopted the strategy and tactics that it has.
Plus, I traveled when I was his age – although not as extensively – so the thought of a low information diet and working only four hours a week does not appeal to me at all.
You should establish relationships with people who can provide you with information about competitors on a continuing basis. Be sure to hold up your part of the relationship by helping them with what they need. It could be information about their competitors, about their suppliers, or about developments in their target market. You must have some information that they could use, and you could release to them without hurting you.