External Intelligence Network
Market & competitive intelligence consists to the largest part of external input coming from sources like business wires, newsletters, conference papers, press releases, trade magazines, market studies or industry reports.
Oftentimes however, soft intelligence, input from field personnel, notes from meeting minutes, impressions and even rumors from trade shows can be very valuable sources, if not prime sources for major developments.
Depending on industries served, markets observed and products or services sold, external sources for data and intelligence need to be aligned accordingly. More often than not external intelligence sources are selected to meet back-end intelligence systems (such as corporate intelligence portals) most effectively.
A proven combination of online feeds, acquired market and industry reports and contracted studies plus competition information coming from own mergers & acquisition teams, the legal department and finance, enriched by research & development input, providing a different ankle of the external view, should provide solid blends of hard data and validated information.
In order to make sense of it all or to set the available information in context with the real world, especially under the regime of constant change and restrictions, cost cutting and efficiency improvements; field personnel can be of major value!
With the intense exposure of marketers and sales staff to the external business environment these “street fighters” are nothing shy of artists when it comes to information juggling. Networking with soft intelligence and content resources practically all the time, many topics from the outside world are handled multiple times with varying audiences, flapped around, snapped back, folded up, unwrapped and re-exposed again and again – to add on value and sharpen direction, validation and justification all the time.
For example: testing sales staff and back office marketers, confronting them with certain market rumors; sales professionals would (with certainty) in almost all cases be able to tell rumor from truth, trend from gossip and valuable information from rubbish.
Market and competitive intelligence functions without that invaluable resource (the own external view through soft intelligence that is) are poised to fail or at least miss reality a great deal which could prove fatal especially in very “touchy” industries such as textiles, retail, health care, fashion and many consumer markets.