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Asking the Right Questions from the Start: Get the Most Value from CI Functions with Queries Structured to Advance Your Strategic Goals

The first article in our Strategic Planning series discusses how Competitive Intelligence can and should adapt depending on the type of strategic planning model your business employs.

This section focuses on common research questions that have varying degrees of value to solving your enterprise’s unique issues and strategic aims. When strategic planning activities start to heat up, it’s crucial that leadership stakeholders first build and foster understanding and consensus on what your business is trying to achieve. Since no two companies are the same, a fundamental part of this phase involves knowing what kind of questions your business should be asking to get the most out of its competitive intelligence functions. Getting this piece right is arguably your best shot at enabling your competitive intelligence program to work in concert with your strategic planning efforts. The set of typical questions that follow offer a broad range of competitive intelligence that may help your business gain the analytical decision support it needs in setting realistic goals during strategic planning season.

  1. How are competitors under- or over-performing against our organization? What do we do?
  2. What opportunities can we take advantage of? What are the top priorities?
  3. What are the threats to our business? Our plans? Our success? What can disrupt our plans? How do we respond?
  4. What does differentiation look like? What should our priorities be?
  5. How can we grow our business? How can we be successful against competition? What will have the largest impact?
  6. What is competition doing to grow their business? Where are competitors investing? What does this mean to our plans?
  7. What partnerships can we create to put us into a better market position?
  8. How are we getting closer to customers than competition? What are they doing that is better than we are? What should our investment priorities be?
  9. How is technology being leveraged to improve speed-to-customer, customer experience, or reducing overhead within competition? What are the implications in the short- and long-term?
  10. How are competitors getting longer-term agreements/more sticky with customers? What can we do about it?

There may be other queries and tangential offshoots that are worthy of consideration. The key is in finding which of these CI functions can best help your organization resolve its business challenges, improve its business bottom line, and achieve the most ROI. We hope these query suggestions help your leadership think more creatively in devising its CI program to more effectively gain valuable insights during this season of strategic planning.

About Proactive Worldwide, Inc.
Proactive Worldwide, Inc. is a global research and strategic intelligence consulting firm that provides evidence-based, constructive information within the competitive-intelligence, market-intelligence, and customer-insights domains. Anchored by primary-source research for over 22 years, PWW’s multilingual professionals assist clients with offerings that include – but are not limited to – market intelligence and competitive research services, market-entry and defense strategies, war-gaming workshops and scenario- planning events, and customer-experience and voice-of-customer studies.

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