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Competitive Intelligence: Essential to Innovation

Competitive intelligence is information about
products, customers, competitors, the market and internal capabilities
that support your ability to make strategic decisions. Effective
innovation requires this kind of intelligence to make smart choices
that take into account each of these areas.

I have been conducting competitive intelligence for my executive
clients since 2000. I find it surprising that so many have little or no
intelligence efforts in-house, let alone the ability to exploit this
resource. It’s a stark absence. They cannot exercise their information,
because they have none or what they have is haphazard, built upon
conversation and hunches only. It is a sad state considering that a
considerable amount of this valuable input is readily available for
little or negligible cost.

Competitive intelligence done right provides valuable, legal, germane
data. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is an example of a competitive
intelligence tool for the business masses. It provides readers with an
edge in the marketplace. It does this by furnishing critical, publicly
available news and information in a format that makes it easy to find
relevant content.

If you read the WSJ you are several steps ahead of competitors who do
not. To enable effective innovation you need your own private Wall
Street Journal, customized to your organization, your clients, and your
value proposition.

Intelligence aids innovation by checking your hunches, identifying
weaknesses, targeting opportunities, providing market insight, and
drawing valuable input from your customers.

Competitive
intelligence is beneficial before, during, and after innovation takes
place.

Good competitive intelligence is the basis for identifying
opportunities for innovation. It is perhaps the single most powerful
way to systematically uncover new profitable revenue streams and more
efficient ways to serve your customers. It also makes undue risk
visible for what otherwise may appear to be a good idea.

During an innovation initiative, robust intelligence can refine the
quality of your work, keep you pointed in the right direction, and
affirm or deny the value of the innovation in the marketplace. By
directing the intelligence effort to address insights and ideas for
performance improvement while you are in development or execution, you
can even increase the amount of impact you innovation will have.

After you have launched an initiative, gathering intelligence is a
valuable way to stay in touch with the realities of execution. Done
smartly it can tighten your relationship to on-the-ground
implementation, bringing you closer to customers and other critical
stakeholders.

Competitive intelligence is intelligence that keeps you competitive…
and it is essential to getting innovation right.