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10 Reasons Why AI is Essential for Your Competitive Intelligence Program

Artificial intelligence is a powerful asset to your team. Businesses see it as an essential way to remain in ever-changing markets. AI helps fuel knowledge-gathering efforts, visualize data, deliver information in a timely fashion, and dive deeper into thousands of sources that the average person could never find. AI has become an essential tool for business teams, and in this blog, we are outlining why AI is essential for your competitive intelligence (CI) program.


Gather Thousands of Relevant Sources

Gathering information requires more time and energy than most people or companies can afford to spend. Tasking a single person, a team of people, or even an entire department to manually sift through tons of information could quite literally take them an eternity. Artificial intelligence helps you gather information from hundreds of thousands of sources and insights. There are far too many sources of intel for any human to track themselves. Without AI, they would spend all their time doing research to understand what’s happening, which makes it difficult for them to track real-time updates and changes. AI can also gather insights from news sources, evolving external markets, social media, website tracking, job review boards, thought leadership, events, and many other sources.


Filter Information for Relevant Insights

Filtering helps you focus on relevant information—each team can also have a different definition of what is relevant, and AI accommodates that. What is relevant to a sales team is different from what would be relevant to a product team. AI can help filter this information for delivery so that these teams can focus on strategizing the information pertinent to them. Without the filtering and accessibility capabilities that AI provides, it is incredibly hard to sort through and make sense of the vast amounts of intelligence available.


Act as a Watchdog

AI can act as your watchdog on hundreds of thousands of sources, ensuring you don’t miss minute changes or updates. It can monitor changes to websites, updates to articles, a refresh to downloadable content, and new thought leadership trends, which are all things that would consume considerable bandwidth to a team of people. AI in your CI program will ensure that you don’t miss a step that your competitors, the market, or industry trends take. It will keep track of the information you set as important and relevant, the sources you want to keep an eye on, and the competitors you believe are the biggest threats to increasing your market share.


Visualize Trends for Clear Decision-Making

Visualizing data and trends are vital components to making business decisions. AI can help pull out trends and visualize huge amounts of data at a pace that people could never achieve.

This makes the data immediately actionable since they can quickly see what’s happening and what the impact is. For example, product teams could see trends in hiring data for UX to know what’s coming in a competitor’s roadmap; marketing could see content and thought leadership trends, and executives could see territory experimentation and market interest.


To Anticipate Competitor Moves

Even when competitors change their strategies spontaneously, companies have a good chance of figuring out what they’ll do and when, with the help of competitor intelligence. Cisco’s former CEO and Chairman, John Chambers, claimed that based on competitor intelligence, he could anticipate competitors’ moves one or even two steps in advance. This may sound exaggerated, but it turned out to be true when several CEOs were interviewed later. Take, for example, McDonald’s and Burger King. They both responded differently to the negative publicity about obesity and fast foods. McDonald’s was quick to respond to the market and overtake competition by introducing a variety of healthier options. Burger King, who had already anticipated the move, on the other hand, grabbed the opportunity to cherry-pick customers who are less health-conscious. In turn, they offered high-fat and high-calorie sandwiches by counter-advertising healthy choices. Burger King had anticipated that McDonald would not respond to this attack!!


Find New Opportunities

How often do we pay attention to competitors? We always discount them thinking they are harmless. But they can drastically change the marketplace with their new ways of using the technologies and new strategies. SKY airline identified a new opportunity to compete against its rivals in the Chilean market. It introduced a low-cost model, which was the first of its kind in Chile. SKY took new measures such as eliminating complimentary food and beverages for all passengers during flights and thereby lowered its ticket prices. This helped the company increase its share of carried passengers from 10% to 20%, according to Euromonitor International.


Stay Ahead of Rivals

When companies are striving hard to find out as much information as possible about the marketplace, competitive intelligence has become increasingly relevant to stay ahead of the competition in the marketplace. Regardless of how good your product is, you need to travel at the speed of light and thus react quickly to the evolving markets in order to stay first in the competition. Tesla was the first one to give people what they’ve been asking for for years: a reliable electric car. None of the other big automotive manufacturers were manufacturing electric cars until Tesla made it happen in 2008. Tesla led the pack with a bombastic announcement of the first luxury electric car: The Tesla Roadster.


Stand Out

Companies should present themselves to consumers with a unique brand identity that sets them apart from their key competitors. Investigating your competition is one of the most important aspects of developing your brand positioning as you need to know where you fit into the overall market. The iconic Be Beautiful campaign was so unique that it knocked out the competition of Dove. In this campaign, the Real Beauty Sketches explored the gap between how women look at themselves versus how others perceive them. The two portraits were drawn by FBI-trained forensic artist Gil Zamora. The results are surprising! This not only positioned Dove as a brand capable of understanding women but also set apart Dove as a unique company compared to its competitors.


Learn Market Dynamics

Competitive intelligence sparks new ideas and fresh thinking to flow into the company. With competitive intelligence, companies can evaluate how their competition is selling and positioning their products and take advantage of the market gaps to enhance profit margins. By learning these market dynamics, companies can make more effective operational decisions.  Take the airline industry, for instance. Fuel is its largest expense that accounts for nearly 20-40% of its operating budget. Hence, they are constantly looking for ways to cut fuel costs and look for alternative fuel. See how United Airlines partnered with Des Plaines, Illinois-based developer of technology for the petroleum refining and gas processing industries, to use its Green Jet Fuel to power its flights from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It converts non-edible animal fats and oils into jet fuel, which will allow United Airlines to replace up to 30% of its petroleum-based fuel for the L.A. flights.


Propel Innovation

This stands as one of the most crucial reasons why competitive intelligence is used in companies. Innovation is much needed to sustain a competitive advantage that allows companies to leapfrog in front of their customers, and not just mimicking and following them. And certainly, this means profit! Dyson Appliances Limited (DAL) is a classic example of innovation using competitive intelligence. DAL’s founder James Dyson himself was the source of many innovations. He is popular as the inventor of the first bagless vacuum that took the vacuum cleaner market by storm. Following the pursuit of innovation, Dyson churned out many other innovative models of vacuum cleaners that had helped Dyson gain a market leadership position.  DAL’s deep-set culture of innovation gave it an edge over its competitors.

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