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How to Test Competitive Intelligence Conclusions through Triangulation

As you gather information for competitive intelligence, you naturally begin to draw conclusions about what you’re seeing. That’s what see-mean-do (SMD) analysis is all about. As you draw conclusions, however, you should test those conclusions through triangulation — seeing how they stack up against the opinions of others and any additional information you can find. Try to validate your conclusions with information from at least two other sources.

Don’t dismiss findings that challenge your conclusions — or toss your conclusions just because initial findings don’t support them. When you find disagreement between sources, use it as an opportunity to dig even deeper so you can ultimately confirm or reject your assessment. Interrogate the data

Test your competitive intelligence findings with analysts or trade publications

When you think you’re ready to give your recommendation, think again. See what investment-firm analysts have to say about the situation you’re investigating. Investment-firm analysts are particularly useful for providing a reality check and testing the quality of your intelligence. If you can’t find any relevant analyst insights in publications, try to contact the analysts directly to find out what they think about the specific issue you’re investigating.

Also check trade publications, but bear in mind that they may be less dependable. Reports may be biased due to close relationships between organizational insiders and publication staff, especially if the organization pays for advertising in the publication. Seek out the opinions of independent reporters and analysts.

Compare your competitive intelligence findings to those of industry experts

Another way to perform a reality check is to take a second look at what the industry experts have to say. You should read white papers written by consulting firms or individuals who are experts in a particular field or industry. The Gartner Group, for example, is a dependable intel resource for trends or future developments in technology areas.

Modified Delphi panels are also an excellent source for expert opinions. Consider following up with panel members you interviewed during the information-collection stage to confirm or challenge your assessment.

Confirm your competitive intelligence findings with internal intelligence

When seeking confirmation, don’t overlook the sources closest to you — internal intel. Many of the people in your organization are industry experts, and everyone should be a source of information. Check with your internal intelligence sources to see what they think and to find out whether they have any information that may call your assessment into question.

Seeking out opinions from people inside your organization brings the added benefit of building support for any future change initiative. And that organization-wide buy-in is incredibly valuable in selling the results of your CI to senior executives.

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