Why Competitive Intelligence projects can leave a bad taste in your mouth
We are often asked how we conduct a Competitive Intelligence project. And why are we better than our opposition. But we think the question should be why Competitive Intelligence projects can leave a bad taste in your mouth.

We are not blowing our trumpet at all, but we are consistently told that we deliver more than expected. And there is no one else that does what we do.

We deliver more than expected.
But why is that? We know some excellent Competitive Intelligence Agencies around the world. So why have many of our clients have had their fingers burned in the past? Our experienced tells us many of you in organisations have experienced one or more of:

Been burned before with expectations that never match reality
Experience massive disappointment in the end product they receive
Don’t know where to start with Competitive Intelligence, so some may not bother
Too much reliance on secondary research
1. Been burned before with expectations that never match reality
This situation is down to over-promising results and a lack of direction in a project. People who experience this have usually appointed the wrong partner. A non-Competitive Intelligence specialist. And all they get is lots of information. We find the main reason why expectations don’t match reality is down to four things:

A complete lack of any questions
Limited work to determine if they are asking the right questions. And the researcher takes these questions as gospel without studying and challenging assumptions
A failure to understand what the problems are that need to be resolved for the project to have any impact
Sheer laziness of the researcher who thinks a Google search and cut and paste is acceptable.
Here is an example of asking the right question but getting the wrong answer.

A tourist asked a local the quickest way to the beach. The local asked if the tourist was going to walk or travel by car. The tourist told him she was going to go by car. The local said, “Yes, that’s the quickest way to the beach.”

2. Experience massive disappointment in the end product they receive
This is down to not selecting a Competitive Intelligence agency for a start. And the researcher has not insisted on defined questions. Then there’s the over-promising and under-delivering. They are expecting masses of data and unrealistic expectations. It also shows the lack of input or senior approval of any report from those selected. A senior team member must approve any report that leaves our desk. And they also should have a working knowledge of the project. Leaving it to the new graduate recruit is not healthy. They may, of course, do an excellent job. But if they have had their head to the grindstone researching, they can be jaded. And they need more holistic input. Someone else asking questions and offering thoughts and direction. A Competitive Intelligence report should never be a one-person activity.

3. A failure to understand what the problems are that need to be resolved for the project to have any impact
Before you start a project, there must be a problem you need to solve. Otherwise, why are you doing it? Defining the problem is essential. It is also necessary to discuss the back story with who you select for the Intelligence project. An attitude that what the problem is none of the researcher’s business doesn’t work. It’s not Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Everyone needs context.

4. Too much reliance on secondary research
Just looking at secondary research can be a big problem. A huge problem. A good analyst will likely find more secondary information than you. But it’s called secondary for a reason. It’s second best to primary. If you have access to a primary source and a secondary source, choose the primary source. Primary will be far superior every time. No contest. Secondary research is good for verifying primary sources’ claims. Or indeed the photograph you have taken. A Competitive Intelligence report should be a balance of secondary and primary research. This is where cheap and cheerful offshore options fall over. And huge disappointment enfolds.

Delivering bespoke and agile Competitive Intelligence
Our approach is all about our core value proposition. Delivering bespoke and agile Competitive Intelligence services. To your exact needs and specifications for agile enablement around competitor understanding. To support this goal, we have configured a series of unique characteristics. This allows us to deliver globally. And face any kind of Competitive Intelligence challenge.

We lead with primary target penetration. Then work hard to verify our findings via secondary insights. Because of our unique methodologies, the resulting evidence is both accurate and relevant. And based on our interest in building both firm and open (ongoing) communications.

What is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive Intelligence is the finding, sorting and critical analysis of information. To make sense of what’s happening and why. Predict what’s going to happen and give the options to help you control the outcome. Competitive Intelligence offers more certainty, competitive advantage, insight, growth & security.
It’s in everyone’s interest that Octopus supports the initial brief’s construction so that we are fully invested in the project. Aware of the clear thinking and reasoning that requires the Intelligence we seek. Also, We work very hard to preserve our ’boutique’ offering. Maintaining a strongly verified global specialist network that provides the range and reach. No matter what language, cultural or political barriers exist. Octopus has been built from best operational practices garnered from military intelligence experience. Allowing us to create fast reaction deployment. And is the key influence on our overall mission focus, tenacity, and attention to detail.

Hot information
Our methodologies engage directly with targets. Soliciting the information required in the brief. We report findings in real-time “red flags”. Used sparingly when we consider the info ‘hot’ and need immediate action. Upon completion, we deliver the overall mission findings. So there’s no migration of salient or important information lost to the recipients. Also, we can back up our conclusions by answering the questions you and other decision-makers have.

We can produce similar reports for decision-makers, commercial, and operational colleagues. Why? Because it’s likely to be a different use of the insight. To that end, we can also provide ‘built in’ battle cards if required.

Octopus Intelligence and our key differentiation
We work hard wherever possible to support the building of the mission brief. So expectations, timings, communications and reporting details are appreciated at the earliest opportunity. So our clients have peace of mind that what they require is understood and attainable. And delivered in a manner that most suits their needs.
We recognise that good communication links enhance excellent relationship building. Allowing to address any unforeseeable aspects and capitalise on them.
There will be insight that’s not part of the original brief during every project. We mustn’t go off-plan. So we include them in an addendum sub-report along with the primary delivery. If these ancillary findings appear essential or timely, we will advise you immediately.
It’s important to ensure effective use of the mission findings. So we work to define the best reporting format for the reader.
With every project, we seek to provide our clients with ongoing advantages. Ensuring that, if needed, market or competitor surveillance can be continually undertaken. Providing quarterly updates on changes or key impact points.
We can also apply ongoing updates to battle cards or provide win-loss analysis. Helping feed the cycle of continuous strategic and operational improvement. But never anything for the sake of it. Ideally no reliance on “death by PowerPoint” presentations. Or graphs that are not integral to the end product. Or long, overly complicated sentences. The job is to provide excellent insight. Not to make ourselves look clever.
We have designed our services to be globally applicable, impactful and cost-effective. We can deliver this with more speed and agility than internal teams. Teams who don’t have the capabilities and resources that we have at our disposal.
An example mission
Locate, collate and analyse competitors operating within your sector. As defined by your briefing instruction and questions.
Provide hard evidence of the pricing structure of product/service areas ‘A’ ‘B’ & ‘C’. For Competitors within the U.S. marketplace, in line with your briefing instructions.
Supply interview recordings and other evidence of their sales team performance.
Deliver insights into the overall ‘go to market strategy in relation to the specified product areas for the key focus competitors.
Provide insight into their growth plans via recruitment, partners, re-sellers, and associates. Plus, isolate planned marketing initiatives for 22/23 of the key focus competitors.
What expansions or innovations are being planned across the market? With primary attention given to the key competitors.
To provide this Intelligence, we create unique trajectories of incursion. Obtaining information directly and circuitously for the key focus competitors.

Why Competitive Intelligence projects can leave a bad taste in your mouth
In conclusion, conducting a Competitive Intelligence project is not as simple as it may seem. That’s why Competitive Intelligence projects can leave a bad taste in your mouth. There are many things to consider, such as the project’s goals, the resources available, and the methodology that will be used. It is important to work with an experienced firm like ours with a proven track record of success. That’s experience with Competitive Intelligence, not just Googling on the internet.

Author's Bio: 

Octopus Competitive Intelligence consulting agency