Competitive analysis must drive your digital strategy.

In the digital world today, continuous competitive analysis is not only possible, it is imperative because of its impact on all aspects of the business. The data-driven digital enterprise must use competitive analysis to direct innovation, respond to the competitive environment, and map the potential of each strategic and tactical opportunity.

Continuous competitive analysis, as a key element of the digital enterprise of today, drives changes, directs innovation, identifies new products, sources lower costs, and uncovers strategic targets. If it is not part of the digital strategy, effectively, the strategy has less focus, and likely a far less successful result in a globally competitive marketplace.

It used to be a laborious and time-consuming effort to uncover what your competition was doing, planning to do, and had done. But today, nearly everything is exposed on the internet, from suppliers, to partners, new products, mergers, and acquisitions. The key is increasing the priority of this analysis to the top of the metrics of success in your digital strategy road map.

A multitude of tools are available to assist in the effort once the decision is made to leverage competitive information. Some of them are excellent examples of the use of artificial intelligence and big data analytics, while other are focused on specific facets of competitive comparison.

Selecting the tools to use is a function of the metrics defined in the digital strategy, the competitors you currently see, and the potential competitors who might exist in the future.

Gaining a 360° view is critical – all too often, the effort is entirely focused on website analytics or social media analysis. These are certainly important, but do not support a full understanding of your “battle zone” - current competitors, soon-to-be or entrant competitors, and adjacent enterprises capable of becoming a competitor.

Sun Tzu, in The Art of War, positions this knowledge even more emphatically. He said, “Now the reason the enlightened prince and the wise general conquer the enemy whenever they move and their achievements surpass those of ordinary men is foreknowledge.”

Selecting the building blocks of a full insight capability begins with defining metrics: what do you want to know, why, and how will you measure it? Additionally, the cost to obtain, maintain, and draw insight from the data must also be considered.

There is a vast array of tools available, so picking a few which provide the broadest coverage against your metrics is a good starting point. There is a race in the CI space, to be the first to provide a comprehensive, automated view using AI and advanced analytics so over time, the need for multiple tools and manual data compilation will be reduced.

These three primary categories of tools will provide a foundation for building your competitive landscape:

Competitor Identification:

  • Tools: Owler, Crunchbase, Zirra, Ahrefs
  • Provide high level overview of competitors
  • Provide suggested competitors

Website analysis:

  • Tools: SEOchat, SEMRush, MajesticSEO, SimilarWeb, Apptopia, Google Adwords
  • Monitor and rank key word patterns, compare rankings, and view reputation information Social media analysis:
  • Tools: Ahrefs, SEMRush, Sprout Social, SimilarWeb
  • Track and monitor engagement, brand awareness, and reputation.
  • These basics provide the necessary data to allow you to make better decisions, increase your competitive advantage, and build competitive analysis into your digital transformation road map.