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Harnessing Big Data for Competitive Intelligence


When you have any sort of business, one of the main factors that will govern your success is your ability (or lack thereof) to stay ahead of the competition. This might look easy on paper, but in practice, it can be problematic. You need to collect information about your competitors, collate it into a readable form, and compare it with what you’re doing to see how you measure up and how you can improve your practices to get or stay ahead of them.

Collecting this data can, of course, open up a whole new range of problems for you. This is because, as with any examination of your own business, your competition will generate a huge amount of data, and not all of it will be useful. Therefore, you need to look at how you go about it, how you collate it, and how you use it effectively.

Collecting competitor data

First things first, this will be more complicated than just a simple Google search. It does involve delving quite deeply into your competition but not using any methods that could be deemed as industrial espionage. You need to start by defining what you want to find out about your competition and which gaps in your knowledge need to be filled.

You might want to know about the keywords they use in marketing, why some of their manufacturing processes are efficient, or how they pick a price point for their products. Next, you need to identify what your sources of data will be and if that requires any specialist software, like SEMrush, for identifying keywords and SEO. This will allow you to collect the relevant data for your initial analysis, although you should note that this is an ongoing process and not just a “one and done”.

Analysing and using your competitive intelligence

Once you have the necessary data, it’s a question of deciphering it into something usable and then applying it to improve what you do. This is easier said than done, but if you have the right ERP in place with IFS applications, it gives you an immediate oversight of your process as a whole and the massive amount of data that’s generated by your business. Data is collected from different areas, and then processed and stored in a usable format that you can compare to what you’ve collected from your competitors.

Using benchmarking to compare them, you can see where you’re ahead of the game, in addition to where and how you can improve in the areas where you’re falling behind. You can also see new opportunities you might not have recognized before where a competitor is doing something that you’re not, but is doing it so badly that you can muscle in and easily dominate this niche.

Final thoughts

Collecting competitor data is complicated enough, but knowing what to do with it can be even more difficult. To know what to look for, you need to have the right resource planning software in place so you can compare your position with your competitors and implement improvements or new processes to keep your advantage.

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