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Six reasons why intelligence is smart

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We live in unparalleled times. Almost everything is changing. Change will affect you, and it’s a dangerous assumption to think it won’t. Now, more than ever before, you need to be smart about Intelligence.

Intelligence isn’t the same as information and data. It’s about you and your competitors. It’s about reporting concisely to decision makers in an easily actionable manner. It’s about protecting the well-being of your business.

1. Smart intelligence future-proofs your business

Learning what your competition is doing is a game changer. You need to know who has their eyes on your business and marketplace. You have to understand what they’re planning and determine what to do about it. Don’t make the mistake of relying on only single sources such as Salesforce reports. Establishing what’s really happening with complete impunity is vital.

2. Smart intelligence understands the impact of new technologies

Right now, stories of technology replacing humans are commonplace. Do you have an understanding of how technology is likely to impact your marketplace? Or a conduit to how technology could open up new market opportunities for your business or for that matter your competition? How about technology aiding your productivity? This isn’t about product development. It’s about what will happen and how it will impact you.

3. Smart intelligence gives you the heads up on buying, selling and investing

When buying, selling or investing in a business, it’s a mistake to assume financial reports give useful intelligence. These are focused on historical information rather than what is really happening now and is likely to happen shortly. The smart thing to do is to confirm historical information, and use matrices to supplement historical data. In other words, find out about the skeletons in the cupboard.

4. Smart intelligence protects what you have

Can you be entirely sure that there are no dangers lurking within your organisation? Are plans being made to take vital information, secrets or practices to set up in competition? The truth is this happens more frequently than many business leaders realise. It’s usually a complete shock and can be utterly devastating when it happens. Be proactive, and be informed ahead of events. Smart intelligence protects your business.

5. Smart intelligence supports you to build international business

The challenges of building new opportunities can be daunting. So imagine the problems like those above happening in entirely unknown territories. By engaging professional support that is intimately aware of the local dynamics, culture and political landscape – and a whole host of things the export advisors never tell you – you can have more confidence in the people and country that you are investing in.

6. Smart intelligence ensures you have the right people

How much work do recruiters really undertake to fully inform you about the people you may be placing great store in? Smart intelligence gives you the heads up on new senior employees, business partners, suppliers and service providers.

There many protocols you can apply before making decisions to engage with people before you commit. Even in this age of technology, people are the ones that make the difference, cost the most and can be your biggest asset or most significant liability.

Thank you www.octopusintelligence.co.uk

Who are we? We provide a range of services for improving your internal intelligence capacity, making sure you get what you need and it does what you need it to. 

Our clients are smart.

They recognise the vital importance of intelligence in their planning and strategic activity.

We’re there for them anytime, anywhere, any issues. As a global organisation, we’re dedicated to and passionate about discreetly and efficiently delivering intelligence.

Call us on 0844 499 6179.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

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Ever noticed how many companies claim to be number one in their sector? So frequently has the term ‘market-leading’ been bandied around it’s actually lost all meaning.

Here’s why. Not everyone can be number one. Rules change over time and things never stay the same. This is abundantly clear when you look at the companies on the FTSE100 now compared to 10 years ago – there are major differences and some notable disappearances.

So if being first in your sector now has little cache, perhaps a better goal is not to beat your competitors, but instead to outlast them. After all, being first at the 400 metre mark of a marathon won’t necessarily help you win the race. Go too quickly and you’re more likely to hit the wall.

Solution: maintain your resources

Outlasting your competitors brings your strategic direction to the fore. A good starting point is to look at the activities which could damage your ability to outlast your competitors.

A good example is your pricing, and not dropping your prices just because your competitor has. Lower prices may be damaging. They may be unsustainable. Most of all, they may be unnecessary. If you understand why your competitors are doing what they’re doing, you don’t need to react to their every move.

So while your competitors may be doing some great things, you should only look to better what they are doing if they do not damage what you stand for and your most valuable tool, your resources.

Protect your ethics, and you can outlast your competitors, without the distraction of artificially leading them.

Thank you www.octopusintelligence.co.uk

Fist: the power of monitoring

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Here’s a story that perfectly demonstrates the value of monitoring your competitors.

During the cold war, the Western military monitored Soviet Morse code operators. It may seem a little pointless as all the important intelligence was encoded. However, as much as possible was recorded by the Western interceptors.

Then human nature took over. After all, it’s the same whichever side of the Wall you were born. The result was that Soviet operators became bored and lazy, especially in the small hours.

The Western monitors discovered every Soviet Morse operator had a certain way of using their Morse code machine. Length, weighting, accuracy and speed of all those dots and dashes became a unique signature. It was called their Fist.

This signature enabled Western Military Intelligence to get to know their habits and patterns, with direction-finding equipment revealing their location.

Soon the personalities of bored radio operators were revealed as conversations turned to the weather, girlfriends, family and football teams. One famous Soviet division in the Caucasus used to offer local football scores every Saturday.

They started to build up a great picture of someone and their team without even meeting them. Not only was breaking their call signs relatively easy but they built a picture of the people and, more importantly, when and where their units moved to another part of the Soviet Union.

Suddenly, the Western military could track troop, military exercises, meanings of code words and moves to the border. They could predict what they were going to do next and how they were going to do it. This very real early warning system certainly helped prevent war.

So what’s the significance of this for you?

octopus can do the same for your business. We can look at your competitors’ communications – PR, press releases, marketing and see what they say on Linkedin, social media, CVs and adverts – to find their habits and patterns. We can see when they start a new project, move to a new office or make any other change that may affect you.

Then, if a member of your competitors’ team moves on to another rival, it is human nature to repeat what was successful at their previous company.

We can also monitor them, looking at their habits to reveal what they are likely to do next. See here for more information

Thank you www.octopusintelligence.co.uk

Where to Start

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With spring in the air, there is nothing better than a walk in the countryside. The natural environment shows us it is a highly competitive and tough environment. There are new things born all the time at this time of year.

Intelligence gives you insight into the market.

But it is easier said than done.

When asking us to find intelligence on their competitors and markets, some of our clients struggle to determine what they really need.

The problem is that the subject can be too vast, without the parameters needed to define the scope of the research.

Because we want to build long term relationships – and because our researchers need clarity in their objectives – we suggest you consider this process next time you need some intelligence:

Competition: Agree who you believe to be your main direct and indirect competitors.
Markets: Answer these questions. What markets you are looking at? Are they new or existing markets? Do you know enough about them?
Engagement: Define what you need to know and what you will do with the intelligence.
Create an Intelligence Statement, which should be no more than two lines and ideally one sentence.
Questions: Agree on a set of Key Intelligence Questions (and associated actions) which need answering. Any more than five and you should consider splitting the project in two.
Actions: Ask what are you going to do with the Competitive Analysis once you have it.

Any Competitive Intelligence Agency worth their salt will want to work with you on these questions to find the right Competitive Analysis.
These questions will create structure, clarification, a focus, reduced mission creep and a certainty that the relevant intelligence has (or hasn’t) been found.

In the future, you may want to introduce relevant ongoing monitoring and reporting that uses structured analytical techniques to improve the quality of your Intelligence Analysis.

Gaining such levels of intelligence will enable you to make better decisions and create sustainable and truly effective marketing campaigns.

It’s time to stop keeping data in silos

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Your data has hidden depths

It’s time to stop keeping data in silos.

The key to your next brand-rocking campaign could lie within your powerful competitive intelligence but unless you know how to turn that information and intelligence into inspiring marketing messages, and then get these messages out there to the right audience in the real world – you’ve still only explored the tip of the iceberg.

You could be doing more with your intelligence.

Turn insight into action and outcomes.

Put your marketing brains on.

The benefits of combining intelligence and marketing could include:

    • improved customer relationships and customer retention
    • wider or more profitable customer attraction
    • damage limitation and brand clarity – and more.

Don’t let your Intelligence end with the report – use it to improve marketing by driving insight-led campaigns to show the rest of the world how amazing you really are, compared to your competitors.

The facts are at your fingertips.
Use them.

That’s why octopus works with Inbetween within our core intelligence product and our Brand Intelligence offering – to identify the hidden potential embedded within the intelligence that we conduct for our clients.

You’ve got the report, now what?

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The value of competitive intelligence cannot be underestimated

It can pave the way for new, effective strategies, allow you to get an edge on your rivals and help you discover insights that can change the way you do business, forever.

But unless intelligence and the key recommendations are applied, there is a risk that its value can become hidden, or lost, forever. As you may know octopus help companies make better decisions because, thanks to us, they have the right intelligence at their fingertips.

Our intelligence gives them the power of knowledge; the power to change the way they do business – and potentially the power to change lives.
But in large companies, Competitive Intelligence is often requested by one party in order to solve a particular problem and then shelved.

Hoarding should be outlawed!

Imagine if, instead of hoarding intelligence once the original questions have been answered and was shared around the business in a way that added value to every department it touched.

Answering simple questions about your competitors often leads to a myriad of potential opportunities. And early warning of threats. It’s actually an iceberg – the first piece of information is simply the tip; the rest of its ability to change your business for the better could be hidden far below the immediate answers.

Competitive intelligence can obviously be used to benefit your research and product development departments, and your sales strategy. But it can also provide a direct and indirect benefit to your marketing strategy.

That’s why octopus works with Inbetween Together we produce a core intelligence product, a Brand Intelligence offering, and a Content Strategy solution – to identify the hidden potential embedded within the intelligence that we provide for our clients.

Falling in love with your competitors

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Falling in love with your competitors

You don’t need us to tell you it’s soon Valentine’s Day. But you may be surprised to hear we believe it’s time for you to start loving your competitors.

They may take business from you. You may take customers from them. They can certainly be a major pain in the backside. So why fall in love? The truth is, your next big idea – the sort that transforms your business – may come from your competitor.

Your competitors can spark great ideas for you too

Look at it this way. They may be doing something well, but look closely and you might see what you can do differently and better. Learning from their mistakes is usually easier for you than it is for them. You can look at the situation with a clear mind, with no emotion or detail clouding your judgement.

Understanding your competitors means understanding your customers

You can progress what they’re doing into a better product or service without having to pay for the error. You can find inspiration in what is working well for them. Understand your competitors and you will have a better understanding of your market. And the more you know about your market, the better chance you have of finding better customer solutions and new opportunities.

Enter your competitors’ world

A great way to be perceived as an expert in your field is to use social media to congratulate your competitor when they have won a deal or launched a new product. It shows you have your finger on the pulse of your market, while your customers (and prospects) may think you have their best interests at heart.

Are they threatened by you?

This action develops trust and, suddenly, you are seen as industry thought leaders. All the information is already out in the open, so you are not risking much. But if they thank you, it shows they do not threaten you, and there is a good chance their customers will take a closer look at you. If on the other hand they ignore you, the market will note your kindness and their actions will also be noted. Pack your congratulatory message with keywords, and it will help you appear in Google searches.

Let’s hope they’re looking at you too

There is something worse than your competitors watching what you’re doing…when they’re not looking at you. If they don’t take a keen interest, you need to quickly understand why. Your competitors can unlock new ideas for meeting your customer’s needs, you’ve got to love them for that, haven’t you?

Any questions? Feel free to get in touch with us on hello@octopusintelligence.co.uk

How do they plan to compete with you the future?

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With a new year around the corner, it is a time when some reassessment of your position could be in order.
If competitors are consistently beating you, how much revenue have you lost?
How much has easily avoided strategic and tactical mistakes cost your company over the past 12-24 months?
If you could step around those mistakes and shut out your competition, what would that be worth?
Get to know your competitors and disruptors very well.
These questions may offer some direction:

    • How do they plan to compete with you the future and how committed are they to achieving their declared strategic objectives? Are they capable of doing what they want to do?
    • How does their management team think and act? Can they become disruptors or are they tired and reactive?
    • What is their vision? What do they tell the press or their people about their plans?
    • Do their objectives get in the way of your company?
    • What options are open to you for dealing with an ever changing competitive environment, an emergence of new “more powerful” rival or the transform of technology?
    • Where do they compete with you? In what segment and which clients and how do they differentiate themselves and their offerings?
      What makes your competitors the choice of some of your customers?
    • What, in the eyes of your customers, differentiates “them” from “you”?
    • What do their financials look like? How do your competitors make money and profits?
    • Do they make their profits from having created better products and services?
    • How much cash do they have?
    • Can they react to impacts that you might make in the marketplace?
    • How much funding have they raised to date? When was it raised? Why and have they used it well?
    • What are their future intentions? Not an easy question to answer, but it should be one of the most important questions that you try to answer.
    • Could they be acquired or are they looking to buy?
    • What could they do to achieve growth?
    • In the next three years, which segments will your competitors be targeting?

Risk from new disruptive competitors

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It is very common to get caught out thinking you have the best products and your competitors are not a good as you. It used to be the case that companies could see disruptive innovation within their industry.

As long they were looking out for it (which was not always the case) they had the skills and strategies to migrate the risk associated with that competitor who brought out their new shiny product.

Historically companies took some notice of new competitors entering their market. These competitors started off agiler than them and gained market share by offering cheaper alternative products.These products would then improve, and they would also move into the higher end market.

There was always plenty of time for you to take action as the disruptive competitors took some time to gain market share.

Disruptors are here

New entrants to your market can now fire disruptive, innovative products into your customers using instant communication, cloud computing, mobile applications and Machine Learning.These technological developments have brought a new risk – speed.

The traditional company would always have time on their side, but with technological advances new entrants means they can become a major success (and pain in the neck) overnight. With Machine Learning and powerful supporting innovative networks time is going to become even more critical when evaluating risk.

Your current competitors next week could be gone with new ones replacing them from other industries. Machine Learning means it that it is will be even harder to see that freight train coming down the track, because the tracks don’t even exist anymore.

It is time to rethink competitive risk and understand this disruptive world.
Don’t make it easy for competitors to enter your markets.
Time is not on the disruptors side either. They may be able to offer innovative and cheaper alternatives, but it is possible that they will need to make a profit fast before their money runs out.

Collaborate with your traditional “friendly” competitors to make it harder for disruptors. Get to know the signs of market disruptions. Who is playing with what ideas? Get to know visionaries in your industry and keep speaking to your customers.

Innovations coming into the market may make some of your traditional offerings and assets worthless. Review what you are selling and which of your assets are still useful and relevant.

Think about which brand names and patents could be used to fight the disruptors and determine what potential disruptors could look like.
Above all, if you don’t have a Competitive Intelligence strategy monitoring your current business environment, what chances do you have of seeing disruptors?

As well as embracing it, companies who are going to survive the rise of Machine Learning need understand why they win or lose business and where their strengths and weaknesses are.

It is not just the hard facts like their competitor’s ROI, cost of manufacture, revenue, profit etc. Know your current and future competitors and the products/services they sell, why their customers like them and how they do things to get their product/service to their customer.

War Games

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War Games: a new weapon to advance your business

Are you looking to move ahead of your competition? Do you need fresh insight to make important decisions while keeping your team onside? Are you facing a tricky situation and need to change the direction your ship is heading?

Make better informed decisions

Here’s a great way to make better informed decisions. It’s called War Games, and it’s one of the best tools in the Competitive Intelligence armoury.

A War Game is a military and business exercise which you carry out to test or improve your tactical expertise. Different scenarios and actions are thrown into the exercise, and teams have to react to them. These teams represent your company and your competitors. It’s a highly effective way to test your assumptions about your ever-changing competitive environment, also helping your organisation to better understand itself and move forward confidently.

How to play a War Game

Playing a War Game is rather like playing a board game such as Risk or Chess.

First, split your people into teams. Each team should represent a competitor and other external influences such as a government or regulator. One team must represent your own company. The teams acting as your competitor must become your competitor. They should study them, and think how they think. They should research them and get under their skin. Each team should map the current business situation and assess what could happen in the future.

You will need an umpire to assess each teams’ success and determine how realistic their plans are, and an independent external facilitator to avoid your company culture and viewpoints leaking into the findings.

Next, create a number of rounds to represent a period of time spanning a couple of months (if you are being tactical) or one or two years (to be more strategic).

Creating a new strategy

Once each team has an understanding of the competitor it represents, it goes away to create a growth strategy to enable it to win the game. The strategy and plans must be realistic. It’s important that each team must be able to achieve its strategy in real life.

The teams must then reconvene and present their plans. The opposing teams and judges can ask probing questions. This questioning represents the end of the 1st round. Assumptions are explained, and the teams can use a myriad of software analysis tools available to do so.

However, it is essential that the War Game is run in an old-fashioned way. This means people interacting face-to-face in the same room (with break-out rooms) using paper, flip charts, pens and Post-It notes. You need to feel what’s going on and watch the teams’ reactions to feedback and comments from the umpires and other teams.

Reviewing plans

The 2nd round consists each team going away and reviewing their plans and strategies following the 1st round’s presentations. As well as presenting its plans, each team should also attempt to predict the other teams’ thoughts and ideas and perhaps counter what the other teams are planning to do.

For each strategy and action plan, teams must detail the resources and funding needed. If they are not currently available to the competitor, they should tell the judges how they intend to get them.

Rule nothing out

The whole process can get very heated and feel very real, and the passion will bring some cracking ideas to the fore. War Games also prove to be great fun for everyone taking part.

Military and intelligence organisations play such strategic games all the time, answering questions like “What if Israel joins the bombing campaign in Syria?” or “What if Russia invades Lithuania?” You can do the same. “What if Competitor X brings out a game-changing product?” etc.

Throughout, nothing should be ruled out. Judges can throw a spanner in the works, and if it makes sense for two teams to merge, then this can happen too. You can bring “What if…” rounds into the game asking the teams to devise their actions on a scenario. The reactions and final outcomes are really powerful and give you amazing insight to what your enemy could do and feel.

Selecting the winner

Once your War Game is finished, each team writes up its findings and the umpires bring everything together. The winning team is decided by the umpires, but there is nothing wrong with opposing teams providing input too.
Ultimately, the result is that your entire organisation is the winner, with the War Game process answering your most pressing and important questions, such as:
Given the situation you face are there any benefits of a surprise and how much do you think it will cost you?
Do you want to focus on one strategy or test a number of alternatives?
How about developing a company-wide culture of strategic thinking to help you develop new ideas, services and products?
Are you sick of those immediate, let’s do it now crises?
Do you want to find a great way to bond your team together, which does not include the pub and a karaoke machine?

Consider this valuable extension to your War Game

Another extremely useful tool – as used by the CIA – is the Red Team model. The Red Team is a group of people which has not been involved in your War Game so far. It looks at what you have decided to do and your reasoning behind it. It will then attempt to completely discredit the plan and provide reasons why the plan would not work.

This is not as daft as it may sound. Looking to discredit the plan could (and does) reveal glaring gaps in the decision makers thinking and helps counter groupthink. Red Teams can save a lot of time and resources by at least making you think about every possible scenario.

Find out more today

War Games offer you new ways to think about your businesses, competitors and your decisions – as well as getting your team onside with a complete understanding of your strategy – as a simulated experience. War Games are a great weapon to help you win in real life.