In a slow economy, managing the competition can help companies pull ahead, according to a recent study by Best Practices LLC, a Chapel Hill, N.C.-based research and consulting firm. "Managing the Competition: Turning Competitive Intelligence into Strategy" highlights the analytical tools used by top companies to analyze competitive intelligence and make strategic recommendations that will enhance company performance. For example, one benchmarked company conducts "war-gaming" exercises to develop contingency plans that address potential scenarios. By having a plan of action, the company can move quickly in response to competitors' actions. Another company builds a comparative matrix -- purchased from a third-party vendor -- that enables the company to look at various market drivers and measure the impact on both the company and its competitors. "In order to pull ahead, companies need to successfully gather and analyze competitive information, and subsequently implement strategic decisions based on that analysis," explains Paul Meade, vice president of Best Practices. In addition to the analytical tools used by the benchmarked companies, the report also details:
- competitive intelligence structures, roles, responsibilities and reporting relationships;
- information collection, communication and management tools; and
- performance measurement systems.