This competitive intelligence series describes some practical steps for someone to follow that is interested in starting a CI activity in an organization.
These days, when the economic conditions are so difficult, may seem like the wrong time to some to get started. The other view (and one that I agree with) is that competitive intelligence is more important in hard times though the methods employed may be different. So, what is the absolute first step that is critical for the eventual success of a CI program?
Simply put, the first step is to “find the pain.”
By pain, I mean the obvious, significant and personalized need for competitive intelligence felt by someone that is in a senior position in the company.
Their pain can be caused by many things. Here are some common examples.
- They have been asked by their manager to present an overview of the competitive environment and realize that they only have the barest understanding summarized.
- Their business results are being directly and obviously affected by a competitor move that blindsided the organization.
- Multiple competitors are repeatedly introducing better products and services and the manager does not know how they can do it.
- A key customer is contemplating a switch to a rival and tells them that their offerings (which they assumed were the best) are not competitive.
- The manager’s goal to increase sales and profits has stalled and no one can explain why this is true.
Whenever something like one of the examples occurs, there is a manager that feels responsible.
Or, if you rather, they are held accountable. They will literally pay for useful, credible and timely information that helps them. This is the prime moment for a competitive intelligence activity and a magic time to get started. If you attempt to get started without identifying a senior manager sponsor that has a “pain”, you will risk engaging in an academic exercise that is unlikely to have an impact no matter how insightful your analyses prove to be.
Perhaps it goes without saying that it is also a high risk time for competitive intelligence.
If you offer to help with the manager’s pain and yet cause more pain, your CI career will be short. Nevertheless, without the pain, few managers seem willing to sponsor competitive intelligence activities and fewer still support them over time.
Fortunately (from a getting started on CI perspective) there is abundant pain evident today.
Companies are relentlessly buffeted by competitive pressures caused by the macroeconomic environment. The need is great to operate efficiently, retain customers and survive until more general prosperity returns. People that can help their organization’s leaders navigate through the times will be highly valued for their contribution. Business leaders are looking for people to help ease their pain. If you are one of those people and can provide “pain relief” through effective competitive intelligence, then you may just be successful in starting a long lasting service.
But first, you have to get the job.
And that is the subject of my next post.
- Find The Pain
- Get The Job
- Tease The Vision
- Frame The Foundation
- Setting Some Standards
- Introduce The Brand
- Accumulate The Tools
- Back To The Vision
- Secure The Budget
- Build The Presence
- Expand the Brand
- Go For the Value
- Recruit A Staff
- Go On The Offense
- Evangelize The Mission