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9 Ways that Competitive Intelligence Can Help Your Organization

Part of the Competitive Intelligence For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Decision makers in your organization may need to be convinced that CI is indeed valuable. You can't simply stick a dollar figure on CI, but a list of benefits that highlight exactly how CI functions as a support system for the entire company can be quite persuasive. CI can help your organization do the following:

  • Make smarter decisions: Well-informed decisions are better decisions.

  • Gain first-mover advantage: By monitoring the forces that impact your business, you become more in tune with customer needs, growing trends, and other factors that reveal opportunities for new products, services, and ways of doing business.

  • Avoid costly mistakes: If you're about to make a major investment, acquire a business, change suppliers, introduce a new product, or engage in any other costly endeavor, CI can help you assess the risk and potential upside and avoid making a costly mistake.

  • Avoid nasty surprises: Good CI is all about being proactive rather than reactive. When you're continually monitoring what's likely to impact your business, you're less likely to be surprised by competitor innovations, cost-cutting technologies, changes in industry regulations, disruptions from suppliers, and so forth.

  • Anticipate competitor moves: Developing intelligence about a competitor's goals, its ability to achieve those goals, and its customers, suppliers, and partners can enable you to see where the company is going and why. It can also help you develop your own strategies in response.

  • Predict changes in the industry: Changes in production, materials, distribution, and other factors can significantly affect the way you do business and the cost of doing business — as well as the way you should be doing business. CI delivers the intelligence you need to lead your field.

  • Identify unmet customer needs: The CI team can "listen in" to what customers say online, over the phone when speaking with customer service representatives, and even in discussion forums hosted by competitors to identify unmet needs that may lead to ideas for new products and services.

  • Improve your organization internally: Benchmarking your procedures and processes against the best in the business can significantly improve efficiency and quality.

  • Discovering cost-saving technologies, products, and processes: History shows that the first competitor in any industry to take advantage of an emerging technology tends to gain a competitive advantage. CI can give a company a heads-up on emerging technologies, products, and processes that can ultimately save time and money.

If someone in your organization questions the return on investment of CI, remind him of the cost of not doing CI in terms of missed opportunities and costly mistakes from making uninformed decisions.

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