Tuesday, 27th October 2009
For many business people competitive intelligence is all about knowing what your competitors are doing, what the press says about them, how their performance is reported. Accessing this sort of information is not particularly challenging with so many online news or company information vendors to choose from. Gathering published reports is secondary research. It does not, in itself, create competitive intelligence. For that you need to understand the ‘so what?’ in all those media comments.
More challenging is understanding the competitive environment, what future competitors are doing, what products or innovations could be market leaders or laggards next season, how the regulatory regime could influence strategic decisions in the future.
Digimind (http://www.digimind.com) is a French company that specialises in tools that go some way towards helping information professionals and strategic analysts make sense of the complex competitive environment. The current version of its flagship product, reviewed this month for VIP, provides an interesting approach to unravelling market signals.
In addition to enabling search and retrieval of web content (with access to the deep web, blogosphere, and seamless links to Factiva and Esmerk among others), users of the Digimind 7 service can turn a mass of digital content into analyzable – and in some cases already-analyzed – market information. They can include digital content from their own organisation, as well as annotate search results, highlighting pertinent issues and effectively creating a customised corpus of competitive information.
At the heart of Digimind 7 is a graphic portal, which might easily grace an analyst’s computer desktop. This gives an overview of a lot of complex information in a relatively easy-to-digest format. Users can create several customised search portlets based on topical issues, then drag these around the screen to a desired position; and ad hoc searches can be done in any portlet for those just-in-time moments.
Among its other features is a simple report generator from which elegant but focused newsletters can be created – and automatically updated, as a useful means of keeping senior managers abreast of competitive activities, for example.
There are some suboptimal features of Digimind 7 though, such as the diversity of appearances of its main modules and the spurious nature of some of its search results. (Digimind do report that version 8, just released, will resolve the search issues.)
One of the more attractive features of Digimind 7 is the range of graphing functions which enable a visualization of digital content. Depending on the visualisation chosen – for example, a highlighted map of European borders or a bubble chart – analysis and interpretation of search results is facilitated. Further visualization in the form of customisable word clouds enables subtle links and associations between concepts to be teased out and inferences drawn about the impact of emergent events.
This is more akin to real competitive intelligence in which the objective is not simply secondary information research but the creation of actionable strategic intelligence. But that is not to say that Digimind 7 creates competitive intelligence. Digimind falls short of really creating intelligence – that is the task of human analysis and interpretation – but its visualisations and flexible text outputs, supported by highlight reports for senior managers, are probably as close as one can get in an off-the-shelf online service.
VIP Report: Product Review of Digimind 7, by Jonathan Gordon-Till, is now available for purchase: http://web.vivavip.com/go/shop/report/1508
Purchase VIP Magazine Issue No. 71, October 2009, and receive the full VIP Report: Product Review of Digimind 7 as part of your purchase: http://web.vivavip.com/go/shop/magazine/71
(Also included in this issue: VIP Report: Product Review of Capital IQ )
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