Assessing your competition is now a full-time job. Ninety-four percent of businesses have at least some employees working on competitive intelligence (CI), according to the results of a recent Crayon survey of over 1,000 competitive intelligence professionals and stakeholders.
The need for CI is growing – 90 percent of businesses say their industry has become more competitive in the last three years, and 48 percent say it has become much more competitive. "This trend is consistent with last year's results, and is reported similarly across all business sizes," the report states.
While large enterprises face the largest number of competitors, businesses of all sizes have seen the number of competitors surge, with the average rising from 25 competitors in 2019 to 29 competitors in 2020.
Investing in CI
Small and large businesses don't differ in their commitment to CI, just in their available budgets – almost 60 percent of large enterprises have CI budgets exceeding $100,000, while less than half of small businesses have budgets nearing $25,000.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents now have dedicated teams of at least two CI professionals, and 46 percent expect those teams to grow in the coming year.
"These trends are largely consistent across company sizes as well – from small businesses staffing up their initial CI hires to large enterprises continuing to expand their CI teams," the report states.
Still, 95 percent of CI professionals admitted that they struggle with some aspect of the CI process. The most common challenge they fact lies in gathering CI data (52 percent of respondents), followed by measuring the results of CI efforts (47 percent).
While competitive research is the most time-consuming CI activity cited by respondents, the time allotted to it has decreased, likely due to the increase in CI automation. As a result, CI professionals are dedicating those hours instead to analysis and communication.
More than half of respondents now share CI internally on a daily or weekly basis, with just 9 percent doing so quarterly or annually.
Still, it's not just about handing over the data – Tradeshift director of analyst relations and competitive intelligence Hannah Hayes noted in the report that findings need to be tailored to each audience within the organization. "My sales team, my marketing team and my executives all need different information on competitors to make them effective in growing our organization," she said.
Almost all respondents say they've seen clear results from CI. Ninety-five percent have seen qualitative benefits, and 89 percent have seen quantitative benefits.
Fully 91 percent of respondents say CI is important to their company's success.
And results matter. Companies that saw revenue increases as a result of CI were 63 percent more likely to increase CI headcount and 66 percent more likely to increase CI budget this year, the survey found.