Using Competitive Intelligence (CI) to Gain Competitive Advantage

Using Competitive Intelligence (CI) to Gain Competitive Advantage

Competitive intelligence has emerged as a systematic discipline to help organisations adapt to environmental change. Organisations should view it as a crucial element when building a business strategy since they can now no longer rely on market growth to propel their profits. They must gain market share to stay ahead of competitors and maintain a position in the market. Competitive intelligence can give companies the necessary edge to outsmart the competition and achieve a competitive edge.

Jayanth T.

In today’s volatile and competitive environment, competitive intelligence (CI) has emerged as an information-gathering and analysis process on your competition and business environment to enable better decision making in the workplace. It can be useful to map current and emerging competitor’s organisation structures, compensation and benefits trends, team structures, career growth parameters, etc. For competitive intelligence information to be put into action, excellent relationships with stakeholders need to be maintained.

The purpose of competitive intelligence is to make more informed decisions based on:

  1. What direction your competitors are headed?
  2. What the business environment looks like?
  3. Where do I get Competitive Intelligence?

A competitor website is the number one source for competitor analysis. Such websites are a goldmine to understand their operations, priorities, growth avenues, growth levers, partnerships, expansion strategies, and product or service portfolio changes.

You may also track their press releases, event attendance, and event sponsorships to get a better understanding of how they are promoting their brand. Pay attention to what content of theirs gets the most engagement on social media.

Also, review the profiles of your competitor’s key employees on Linkedin and other social media in terms of their background i.e. qualifications, skills, certifications, previous jobs, current role, and responsibilities, etc.

Closely track key sales personnel hiring and offboarding. It could be a sign of booming time ahead or a retention problem or sales not going in the right direction.

If it’s a public listed company, also check the “Investor Relations” section of the website. You will find their quarterly, annual financial statements, analyst briefings along with corporate governance, and social responsibility statements in some cases.

Their quarterly and annual reports give precise information about the risks, revenue, margins, C&B of the top-level management, financial health, subsidiaries, partnerships, etc.

Scraping their career section job postings can provide an advanced view of the current and future projects, technology investment areas, skills they are looking to hire for, new location manufacturing/service delivery centre intelligence among others.

Some companies like Philips, Intel, SAP, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, Amazon, J&J, Accenture, RBS, G-Research, standard industries, Qualcomm, IBM, Redbull, Stryker, Nike, Lowes, Wells Fargo, Mastercard, UnitedHealth Group, Hudson’s Bay Company, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Deloitte already have an in-house talent intelligence team that can help their internal employees with location and skill trends intelligence research.


Startups give a view of the emerging competitors that could disrupt your business models and may rewrite the rules of the game. The following are some of the available tools that you could deploy to develop competitive intelligence reports. – You can create company lists and receive news about these specific companies through the web or email. – You can obtain information related to employee count, office locations, contact information, financing history, financials, top executive names and board members.

Patent Database Search

A search of a competitor’s publicly available patent portfolio databases can give an insight into the product’s development strategy, their depth and breadth of commitment to R&D. This will help in predicting the market orientation and plug gaps in a company’s IP portfolio and be adequately prepared for market disruptions.


“Google alerts is an excellent avenue to monitor what your competitors are doing. All one has to do is type in a company name or any topic of interest and enter the email address of where the alert should be sent to.”

Competitor Intelligence Tools

“A competitor website is the number one source for competitor analysis. Such websites are a goldmine to understand their operations, priorities, growth avenues, growth levers, partnerships, expansion strategies, and product or service portfolio changes.”

Following are some of the tools that can be used to review competitor or client websites:


If you are looking to review website statistics in terms of the traffic sources, traffic by countries, keywords used, pages per visit, average visit duration, which social media is driving traffic, you can utilize SimilarWeb for this purpose.

It helps to identify competitors, delve into their analytics, identify their strengths and weaknesses and also compare them with you. The “free” version gives a good source of information.


This tool can monitor online mentions of your brand in real-time and will let you know about every article, hashtag or comment mentioning your business. You also can compare with competitors, track current industry topics, find social media influencers, identify engaging posts and analyze brand sentiment.


This tool can monitor a webpage when it changes through an email alert. You can drag the cursor to the section of the page to see if any changes have come about.


Craft is an interesting tool to track the past, present and future of companies.

Organisation Charts

“Organisation charts are pure gold from a competitive research perspective. It depicts a reporting or relationship hierarchy and structure and gives a good understanding of internal organisational dynamics and how decisions are made.”


Twitter is a great channel to track your competitor’s key personnel or general company progress and update.

Business and Technical Magazines

They are an excellent avenue to keep tabs on the marketplace trends.

Following are some prominent magazines to follow:

  • Harvard Business Review
  • Forbes
  • CIOReview
  • Infosecurity Magazine

They usually have a Twitter handle. By reviewing the followers list and some filtering, you would get to know the decision-makers who are following and it could be a good starting point for a further discussion.


Competitive Intelligence intends to make the firm more competitive and it doesn’t have to cost your company an arm and a leg. It can help you in crafting strategies and provide you with the necessary edge to outsmart your competition, by developing an understanding of the business environment and the competitors as well. Competitive intelligence enables you to make more data-driven decisions and find the best practices to do business.


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