In the second episode of the Decisions Now podcast, we talked with Cam Mackey, executive director for Strategic & Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) to get his take on the scope of Competitive Intelligence (CI) in decision-making.
Our co-hosts Rigvinath Chevala, EVS chief technology officer and Erin Pearson, EVS director GTM (go to market), talked with Mackey about what it means to strategize your business with CI.
What is Competitive Intelligence to Your Business?
About 90% of Fortune 500 companies already use CI to gain a competitive advantage in the market.
“Competitive intelligence is basically a set of processes and skills, for taking all the crazy stuff that’s going on outside your company, looking at the information and the insights you have in your company, and then using that information, to make decisions,” Mackey said. “Now, the point of all this is not just to make a decision, it’s to basically help your company either grow faster, or to reduce strategic risk.”
Sorting Through Data
While there are many ways to use CI, ultimately the growth factor depends on synthesizing technology and human skills- together, to use the available information. However, there is an excess amount of data out there, and we must know how to apply it to our processes.
“We have to understand the space, take a methodological approach, starting from data collection, understanding that data, even managing that big data, and then coming up with natural language processing, in addition to human curation, before you can actually provide the decision-making capability,” Chevala said.
Having a growth hypothesis to poke holes in the data is a great place to start along with knowing “the why”, without which the data is meaningless, Mackey said.
With CI being at the forefront of almost all leading businesses today, it’s essential for teams to become familiar with CI skills.
“Whoever you are, whatever your company does, whatever function you’re in, you’re probably going to need some sort of CI type skills, doesn’t mean you need to be an expert, but you’re going to have some relationship with information, you’re going to have to provide a little analysis,” Mackey added. “So, in some senses, CI has to be a little bit everyone’s job.”
He mentions the success CI has made in terms of M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions), and helped companies make large profits. Another CI example he provides is the company that predicted Amazon entering the media sector before their official announcement, all by analyzing word frequency. Sales teams can go beyond learning information about their competitors and customers, using CI they can understand how to build a stronger customer experience.
It’s important to connect with teams, and stakeholders to understand their challenges, so we can better leverage the power of technology and human contribution for more successful CI use cases – which can be enhanced with data analytics (DA).
The Do’s and Don’ts of Using CI to Make Decisions
“Traditional mechanisms of just looking at public data, commoditizing data, or even doing alternate data analysis is good to an extent, but then at some point, you have to switch to statistical modeling, and understanding big data, right?” Chevala asked.
Organizations are understanding that CI tools can be applied towards an array of business challenges. Here are some helpful insights the trio discussed:
- Know which tool to use and when,
- Remember to use the internal data you have on hand and don’t just make decisions solely off newly available data,
- Don’t measure your strategy of just one metric, rely on a blend of qualitative and quantitative metrics,
- Analyze your business and be honest about your blind spots and biases, and
- Communicate across all business units and go beyond understanding the buyer persona; get to know the user persona.
A Small Business Trends article stated, 94% of businesses were seeking competitive intelligence, tapping into the power of data-based solutions to drive decisions.
So how do you stay ahead of the game? – You know it, by incorporating CI in your business cases.
For more advice by CI expert Cam Mackey on success, failures on his CI journey and more, listen to this engaging conversation by subscribing to Decisions Now podcast today!