How close do you have to get? (Part 1)Posted: March 19, 2013
March 19, 2013
One of the things that you’re going to find as you doing your own competitive intelligence is that you sometimes cannot get a complete or perfect answer. From my point of view, that is a carryover of a quantitative state of mind. I that, I mean we are trained that numbers are important and, the more precise the numbers, the more precise our findings.
Thus we have the phenomenon that the finding “our competitor is growing faster than we are” is often seen as having no competitive value, even when it discloses a truth not known to your company, while the statement that “the competitor’s annual growth rate is 6.125% per year” is somehow seen as having real validity.
You have to get over this. First, let’s be honest. The likelihood that you will be able to get a precise number like 6.125% is unlikely. Your competitor will be measuring its growth its own way. You measure your growth your way. The likelihood that both of you measure exactly the same type of “growth” are remote.
In addition your competitor is basing its measurement on the data that it collected while you are basing it on your efforts. Are both of you exactly as precise and thorough in your data collection, storage and manipulation practices? That is unlikely.
Thus, accept the fact that “false” precision may sometimes be lacking. What you have to do is put aside your own desire and objectively look at what you have identified. In this example, if your company did not know that your competitor was growing faster than you are, you have developed a competitively important insight. Now how much faster they are growing may or may not be of importance. It is probably of less importance than the initial finding. And, if it becomes important to determine that rate of growth, then focus on that later.
Remember most of the time competitive intelligence is a qualitative, that is, bigger or faster or smaller or weaker, evaluation of the world.