Competitive Intelligence Work Plan
“Listen, we’re almost into 2020 and I’m getting ready for the year ahead. The work plan comprises aspects of marketing and business development,” Tamar, VP Strategy at a high-tech company tells me. “Up to now, we’ve done competitive intelligence (CI) assignments off the cuff – ad hoc, unplanned, which means we spent money in a rather haphazard and inefficient way. In 2020, we’re going to integrate CI processes into the work plan and work methodically and efficiently,” she continued to emphasize her point.
Tamar had clearly identified the key points:
Competitive intelligence work is integral to the company’s business processes. It’s critical when we prepare major business moves and we want it to be inherent to everything we do – from competitor analysis to entering new markets (whether geographical or at the segmental level), and from understanding market dynamics through to prospecting.
Doing some ad hoc CI activities at some point, without any planning, tends to be done under time restraints, which means that we don’t use our time in the most effective manner.
When CI work is not planned properly in advance, the budget might be insufficient, and we could end up with only a partial analysis of the information.
And what can we do when there is enough time?
Once we identify how to integrate intelligence gathering activities into the Company’s DNA, we can for example:
Conduct meetings with industry entities where, through informal questions, we can get information that helps complete the intelligence picture.
Plan trips to trade shows and conferences from the intelligence angle (and not only from the marketing aspect), with a clear focus on intelligence gathering and not only for Marcom objectives.
In conclusion, these are the key steps in building an annual intelligence program:
Define the information needs of the organization: Gather critical information needs (gaps or key intelligence topics) from company management and employees.
Set priorities and focus: Company managers should prioritize the needs identified in the first stage and specify the intelligence efforts to be conducted in the year ahead. This prioritization should also cover planning at the quarterly level – what is to be done in each quarter.
With the ‘why?’ now out of the way, let’s analyze the entire intelligence brief and the necessary resources on the following three levels:
What is the duration of each task? (Ongoing or at a particular point in time).
Who will perform the activity? Will company personnel perform intelligence gathering (in-house) or should you be assisted by a competitive intelligence expert (outsourced)? Or perhaps a combination of the two (a 'hybrid' approach)?
How much budget needs to be allocated to this activity? (At the annual and quarterly level).
Have you formulated your competitive intelligence gathering plan for the coming year?
If you’re debating how to go about creating and/or implementing your company’s 2020 Competitive Intelligence Plan, feel free to contact me.