Sophie Alexander highlights key articles from the recently launched FreePint Topic Series: Next-Generation Competitive Intelligence. From data collection and analysis to communicating your insights, these insightful articles highlight practical tips and online tools to make you a more effective competitive intelligence professional, regardless of your industry.
Competitive Intelligence (CI) professionals need to keep their skills constantly updated to reflect the ever-evolving CI landscape. Several insightful articles, highlighted by series producer Mary Ellen Bercik in her introductory article, have already been published.
Data Collection & Organisation Techniques
First, we saw Libby Trudell discuss a range of techniques used in competitive intelligence research that help you better assess sources for their quality and comprehensiveness as well as how best to organise this wealth of data.
With the wide range of information sources available, Libby offered tips on how to filter the information to reflect the specific needs of the organisation or project you're working on, as well as tips on making the search process itself more effective. She warned against some of the pitfalls of relying on the open web, including search engine and user biases, and highlighted the advantages of published, authoritative sources.
Many useful product and market intelligence sources in the areas of business & trade, market research reports and the pharmaceutical industry were listed. Financial and patent information is another core component of CI and you can find some useful sources on this too.
News sources and aggregators, both fee and free, were discussed and Libby gave us a more in-depth overview of news tracking tools in her blog piece, with a particular focus on Google Alerts and premium news aggregators.
Communicating Your Message
Of course once you've collected, organised and analysed all this data, the next step in the CI process is to effectively communicate your findings with your audience.
Wayne Jones highlighted some of the latest tools and techniques to help you stand out from the crowd and get your message heard by important stakeholders using compelling visualisations. He suggests several high-quality visualisation tools, many of which are free.
You can read about some of the more familiar and traditional tools such as Excel and PowerPoint as well as a number of cloud-based data visualisation platforms that have emerged over the last few years, including Tableau, an easy-to-use and popular tool for those working without IT support.
And if you've not used visualisation tools before or you just want to learn more about the latest techniques or find inspiration, he cites several useful sources that will help you further enhance your skills.
Establishing Your Credibility
Wayne discussed some of the challenges of communicating your insights to those in management and of the increasing availability of online social sentiment analysis tools that can be used to supplement your data.
One example is Topsy, designed to help you refine your insights to a particular query and detect trends.
Cultivating & Maintaining a Primary Source Network
Marc Limacher's useful article discusses the importance of leveraging internal Human Intelligence (HUMINT) within your organisation and how best to cultivate and maintain this primary network, as highlighted in a recent FreePint blog post.
Avention Q&A and its Rebranding
You can also read about Avention's recent rebranding (formerly OneSource) in Chris Porter's recent Q&A.
Chris interviewed Jonathan A. Flatow, chief executive officer of Avention, to find out what has changed since the rebranding and where the company is heading. Watch out for FreePint's upcoming review on Avention.
A Single Information Repository for all your CI Needs
Finally, you can read the recently published FreePint review of Cipher System's Knowledge.Works. This product acts as a single information repository for all content related to competitive or business intelligence collection and analysis.
Much of its functionality has been updated since FreePint's last review in 2010 and with a host of useful features, it's designed to meet the unique needs of every organisation.
So, whether you're new to the profession or simply want to develop your existing skills, these articles will equip you with the skills and tools needed to deepen your knowledge and become a more effective CI professional.
This article is part of the FreePint Topic Series: Next-Generation Competitive Intelligence running from May-June 2014. Register your interest now, and you'll also get a free copy of the FreePint Report: Buyer's Guide on Competitive Intelligence when it's published in June.
This Research Focus provides analysis, expert articles and product reviews on the state of play for current awareness services. (October - December 2017).
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