Whether it's a major tech provider releasing the latest update of its most popular product or a startup uncovering a super anticipated product destined to disrupt the market, the hyper-competitive pressures in the tech market environment are ongoing and show no signs of slowing down.
But the tech industry thrives on disruptive innovations, and the only way to fight harder than ever to protect your market presence is by remaining competitive. For that to happen, tech providers need to prioritize anticipating competitors' moves, just like their commitment to product research and development.
But how do executive leaders make out their best strategies when success depends on differentiation from competitors' campaigns and product releases?
Competitive intelligence — or CI, period.
This article covers techniques for gaining deep insights about your competitors' moves, how to analyze and weaponize those insights to protect your presence and win market share.
Let's get started.
What is Technology Competitive Intelligence
It is the process of tracking, analyzing, and activating information about what your competitors know about your company and what they are up to in terms of expanding operations in geolocations and vertical markets or creating new products.
There's no substitute for competitive research to empower internal stakeholders to improve decision-making and execution and help take the necessary actions that outperform your competitor's offerings, thwart their efforts and prioritize yours, as well as identify acquisition targets for growing your business.
5 Major Goals of Technology Competitive Intelligence
1. Close Sales: Differentiate your product to get a prospective buyer to choose your solution over a list of alternatives.
2. Market positioning: Establish a differentiated value of your solution to earn your prospects' attention.
3. Product Management: Creating and execute a roadmap that differentiates your product from its alternatives.
4. Retain Customers: Ensure that your customers continue to be your customers through customer success reps.
5. Executive Leadership: Produce and implement a long-term strategy that extends beyond the scope of product strategy
Now that you know what the competitive technology analysis is and why it matters let's delve into how to conduct one.
Three Phases of conducting Technology Competitive Intelligence
Phase 1: Collection
This phase is all about gathering intel on your competitors, but first, make sure to check the boxes below:
- Establish clear goals
- Identify audiences to be tracked
- Identify sources of intel
What audiences do you track?
There are 8 types of audiences tech providers usually track:
- Direct competitors
- Indirect competitors
- Company's audience
- Company's customers
- Thought leaders
Collecting insights about each of the above audiences is worthwhile, but for our purposes, we'll be focusing on direct and indirect competitors.
Direct competitors are those with the same target audience as you, and you're in a one-on-one competition, which means there's no need for your products and theirs to be used simultaneously by your customers.
Indirect competitors, on the other hand, are companies that either sell a complementary product to your target audience or a similar one to a different audience. So you are both in the same category, but you don't go head-to-head for sales.
How often should you track them?
12% of tech providers track their indirect competitors on a daily basis, and 39% track them on a weekly basis. You do your math and choose the most suitable frequency.
Identify sources of intel
Sources of intel are anything from which you can collect information about your competitors like websites, colleagues intelligence, content accounts (e.g., Youtube), third-party review sites, social media, events, forums, news, etc.
Some sources are valuable no matter what your company's goals are at the moment, but there are many times where you may need to focus on one source in particular.
To help you get the most out of the intel collection:
- Stay regular and consistent; commitment does pay off.
- Embrace automation, set push notifications, subscribe to your competitor's blogs, Youtube channels, etc.
- Use positive reinforcement, especially when you're in the early stages of building a CI function.
Phase 2: Investigation
The investigation phase is dedicated to turning raw data into key takeaways to make it easier to organize, connect, and interpret competitive data points.
The framework or the comparison matrix for your competitive analysis is determined by the types and volumes of intel you've collected to simplify the process of extracting meaning from it and establishing action items accordingly.
Phase 3: Initiation
If you are the CMO reporting to the COO or CEO, this phase is where
you get your intel into the hands of the appropriate stakeholder(s). Does there need to be a third phase just for communicating results? Although there are times where an email is sufficient, this is not typically the case. In order to get your point across and inspire decision-makers to take action, you'll need to be thoughtful about your deliverables.
What are battle cards, and why are they worth your time?
They are a concise, actionable insights summary on one specific competitor to help your sales team successfully navigate deals in which the specified competitor is involved.
Battlecards often include:
- Product information
- Price details
- Key differentiation factors
To help you get the most out of the intel initiation:
- Frequent initiation to ensure the whole company is equipped to take action as needed.
- Minimize friction by integrating deliverables into existing workflows (CRM, email platform, project management system, etc.)
- Measure the impact of your deliverables to determine what's working and what's not.
How to measure the impact of Competitive Intelligence?
KPIs are essential to practically every operation, and competitive intelligence is no exception. Quantitative KPIs are 13% more likely to impact revenue than qualitative KPIs.
Quantitative KPIs examples
- Confidence of the executive leader when making the right decisions at the right times.
- Win rate (turning opportunities into customers) and the competitive win rate (turning competitive opportunities into customers)
- Customer retention rate
- Revenue growth
Competitor tracking isn't enough. Competitive intelligence has an incredible opportunity to help tech providers thrive in the post-pandemic world. But for effective growth and risk reduction, competitive intelligence needs to take a 360-degree view of our operating environment focusing on the outcome, not the output.
At CHASM, we help emerging tech providers optimize their growth and Go-to-Market strategies, applying industry-leading frameworks in a hands-on approach that will deliver instant results. Reach out to us at email@example.com