Competitive Intelligence

News alerts play an important role in competitive intelligence and other research-driven processes. They are the steady workhorse, keeping people current and knowledgeable on specific companies, industries and other topics. Yet news alerts also can be an intrusion, contributing to information fatigue by overloading people with useless information. Enter the value of curation.

Law firms find no easy answer in a comparison between Westlaw and LexisNexis. (We won’t even include Bloomberg, the third leading legal database provider, in the mix.) When it comes to making a choice between them, the ultimate decision depends on variables like a firm’s legal specialties and practice areas, client needs, user preferences and budget requirements. As such, there is no easy answer and certainly no one-size-fits all approach.

Last week I talked about secondary research, which is the investigation of information that already exists – it’s the most common way organizations gain knowledge for Competitive Intelligence (CI). After all, it’s not too easy to march up to one’s competitors and start asking questions. However, primary research is possible, even for CI. Utilizing both primary and secondary sources will give you the best perspective.

Primary Data Resources

Primary sources for Competitive Intelligence are not restricted to specific product details or client lists, but any direct source of information. Consider the following: Trade Shows Trade shows are filled with industry experts and competitors, either chatting informally or presenting in settings like breakout sessions, press conferences or booth demonstrations.

Many of the research projects we do for our clients involve competitive intelligence. Some typical CI projects have included:
  • Finding legal work done for specific clients by other firms, or competitor firms working in specific practice areas or doing particular regulatory work.
  • Tracking a main competitor’s product line and delivering findings via regular reports and presentations.
  • Creating competitive intelligence matrices that compare and contrast competing products to educate sales teams and other staff.

Group business people connecting jigsaw togetherWe asked a provocative question last week about Knowledge Management, to communicate how the practice is evolving. The ability to capture and “manage” knowledge has been proven; the ability for an organization to learn from its accumulated knowledge can sometimes be elusive. We’ll finish up this topic of knowledge (for a while anyway) by sharing three important steps that must be taken on the road to becoming a learning organization. 1. Set Knowledge Expectations and Standards The first and foremost expectation involves a basic one-word question: Why? Why do you want to be a learning organization, other than it sounds good? Why do you want your people to share and contribute their knowledge?

Last week I talked about the research aspect of business intelligence, saying that for the best researchers, look to librarians. Trained and experienced library science professionals know where to look and how to uncover the most salient information on any topic, including business topics. This week I will talk about the other half of the business intelligence equation, the digital data itself. Business intelligence looks at both external and internal data, sources that are growing so fast and so exponentially that a couple of business terms—Big Data and Digital Asset Management or DAM—have been coined as a result.