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How to Develop Your Competitive Intelligence: A Beginner’s guide

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How to Develop Your

You have undoubtedly heard a lot about emotional intelligence. In other words, it is the ability to manage your emotions according to each moment of your personal and professional life. But, competitive intelligence, is that term common to you? Lately, companies and professionals have sought more knowledge on this topic. In fact, competitive intelligence, applied to business or your career, can make you fly over the competition.

In this post, we will explain in detail what competitive intelligence is and how to develop yours. In addition, show how this practice is linked to marketing. This is because one of the procedures is to carry out a thorough of your competitors, verifying weaknesses and strengths as in the well-known SWOT analysis, a general procedure in marketing.

SWOT means “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.” It serves to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is a good tip to apply to studies, but it also has everything to do with competitive intelligence. We'll show you why in this post.

What is competitive intelligence?

In short, competitive intelligence is to seek the strategy of always being ahead of your competitors. But how is that possible? From a deep analysis of data on the market in which you operate, your customers, competitors, suppliers etc. For this reason, competitive intelligence is somewhat confused with areas of marketing and strategic management.

With this practice, you will know how to follow the trends within your area, anticipate changes and make money from it. This is also where the identification of weaknesses and strengths, in addition to opportunities and threats. As we said above, it is the SWOT analysis. This type of analysis will result in many ideas to boost your company and your career.

Yes, because competitive intelligence can be applied to a business or even to a person's career. The objective is to reduce the risks and uncertainties of its practices. A good analogy is to think like a compass, which will direct your company or your career in the right direction. The SWOT analysis is a kind of map with all possible trails. In this analysis, you can conclude, for example, that you need to develop your soft skills better to stand out.

The need for competitive intelligence arose precisely because of an increasingly competitive market. In this context, competition is aggressive, and it is necessary to take steps always to be ahead.

Reasons why an organization should depend on Competitive Intelligence

Competitive Intelligence is not an analysis of the market. Rather, it is an investigation in which critical aspects of the company's competitiveness or team are identified through detecting the strategic movements of the industry environment. Competitive intelligence can be used to identify early warning signs that may threaten your business.

It is to know the competition and transform that knowledge into useful information to make decisions that allow us to successfully face the ever-changing reality that national and international markets are currently experiencing.

Why is Competitive Intelligence Important?

  1. For globalization goals.
  2. Know all the opportunities and threats that there are of a product or service according to the culture, laws, political moment that exists in each country.
  3. To understand mergers and changes within the administrations of organizations or companies.
  4. The accelerated technological advances in a world where Intelligence is rapidly reaching the markets.
  5. It serves to anticipate the actions of competitors.
  6. Increases the company's innovation coefficient (by being attentive to the environment and analyzing what our competition does, we can innovate and develop better solutions and offers).
  7. To transform information into a competitive advantage. Information about your competitors and customers opens up new possibilities.
  8. Because it is a structured, systematized, logical process to make decisions and not only operate through intuition or emotion.
  9. It also allows innovation in your product or your business model.
  10. Identification of new opportunities.

Understanding Difference between Competitive Intelligence and Competitive Analysis

Competitor analysis is a more specific type of analysis to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a competitor or a company's competitors. A competitive analysis company uses the information it collects to improve its operations to compete with its competitors.

Also, competitive analysis is used to compare the excellent, service, or operation of a company with its competitors. A competitor analysis company ultimately uses it as an idea of ​​how to be better than its competitors.

The difference between Competitive Intelligence and Competitive Analysis is that competitive intelligence is related to the understanding and learning of a company concerning its industry. On the other hand, competitive analysis is a strategic method by which a company assesses its competitors' strengths and weaknesses.

Learn from others' mistakes

The interesting thing about competitive intelligence is that you can learn from the mistakes of others. In other words, after doing the SWOT analysis, with a special focus on competition, you will identify where your competitors go wrong and prevent these harmful practices. It is almost like in the iconic book “The Art of War”, by Sun Tzu, which thoroughly analyzes all the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy army to outline the best strategies. That is, adapt all of this to your world.

What are the advantages of competitive intelligence?

  • Accurately know the threats and opportunities surrounding your business or career;
  • Pay attention to market movements to adapt your actions and strategies;
  • Have more fundamentals and information to develop your action plan;
  • Understand the impact of the strategies and practices used by the competition and learn from them;
  • Check closely the reflexes of your actions with the market in which you operate.

How to develop competitive intelligence

As you can see, practicing competitive intelligence can make the difference between the success and failure of your business or career. Below, we will explain some steps for you to develop your competitive intelligence and always be ahead of the competition:

1. Identify your competitors

This is everyone's first step. First of all, put on a list who your main competitors are. If you're talking about one company, which other companies are threats? On the other hand, if you consider your career, what other professionals do you look up to? In this sense, point to at least five direct competitors.

Then, define some indirect ones (that do not dispute the same consumers) and others that are more distant competitors, however, that influence your business. They are multinationals, which can be leaders in their segment, but from where you can get good insights.

If you prefer, build a spreadsheet on your computer or use apps to better manage that list.

2. Know what your competitors are thinking

After identifying your competitors, try to know their interests. If they intend to expand their business, or even change their segment, or launch a new product or service. At this stage, anything goes. Stay tuned for daily news, read magazines and other materials in your segment. Visit company websites and participate in events in your area.

If you think about your career, see what specializations your competitors are doing to differentiate themselves in the market. Who knows, it might not be the time to pursue a good graduate degree or even a second degree.

3. Organize your data

Once you've identified your competitors and researched them, it's time to organize the data. This is one of the most important stages of competitive intelligence. That is, how to take advantage of all the information collected? This activity is quite common in the marketing area and also in technologies such as business intelligence, a modern practice among IT professionals. It's time to look at the data and try to extract ideas for your company or your career.

4. Start analyzing

After organizing the data, it's time to analyze it. This step is also known as benchmarking, that is, preparing the profiles of competitors. After the profiles are made, continue monitoring and following the competition, this is very important.

5. Communicate with your employees!

Now that you've done all the work – you've made a lot of discoveries, it's time to pass on the information to your team within the company. This is in the case of using competitive intelligence for your business. Regarding your career, you can eliminate this step, as the information concerns only yourself.

6. Start reaping results

This is the last step, time to see how the work of competitive intelligence has generated results in your company or your career.


If you are a business leader, it is now evident that having a competitive intelligence system will allow you free yourself from having to always be in haste, giving you vital time to create spaces for learning, innovation and reflection.

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