Twenty years ago, Business intelligence otherwise known as knowledge management (or KM) in small business often meant having waiting to have your now former clients tell you what the competition did right and what you did wrong. Your competition could claim just about anything they want, and short of consumer fraud or proving slander/libel, there was nothing you could do about it.
Business intelligence for the small business entrepreneur has arrived and if you don’t use it, be sure that your competition does. Business intelligence could now be called… the Internet.
Your competition probably isn’t going to post their hourly and daily rates. But you can get a good sense of how they are growing, what products they have added, if there has been a change in management or if they’ve added new locations.
You can often tell how they are doing by how much effort and change they’ve put into their website. Does it change? Does it reflect growth? If it’s a franchise, how many locations have they added, how many lost?
Business intelligence isn’t limited to the competition’s own website either. You can find out who links to them and often tell what kinds of alliances they have obtained. A search on the name alone can yield some very interesting information on who has written about them, what kinds of things people are saying. There are many other public records that can also be examined and offline research that can be done.Keep in mind that you aren’t looking for this kind of competitive intelligence because you are fearful or envious of your competition. Competitive intelligence is important because if they’ve found something that works, you want to know what is available, what works, and you want to be able to answer customer questions intelligently. You need to know what your competition is saying about themselves, their products, you, and your products.
Business intelligence for small business
Business intelligence is necessary in the small business world for talking to your customers and prospects. Your consumers will know what your competition is doing and so should you. If a customer asks you about a particular kind of service that only your competition offers, you will know who they've been talking to and you will be able to give an intelligent response rather than showing your confusion.
If your competition is using a new term, you should know what that is when talking with customers. If a customer mentions a competitive product or service, you need to know what they are talking about so that you can talk intelligently and be able to make comparisons. Is your product equal or better? Or do you know where your service doesn't match up?
How do your products/services compare with others on the market? While companies often make claims of superior service, how many can back them up with objective, quantifiable data? Are they better than you as they claim? Can they prove it? Can you prove that you are better? Business intelligence adds teeth to claims of superior performance and service.
Business Intelligence Companies
You can do a lot of your own Business intelligence. But there are also companies out there who do this professionally. They build apples to apples comparisons by talking with your competition, obtaining their materials, and doing an independent analysis.
Occasionally, Business intelligence means posing as a potential client to find out more and knowing where to find records to dispute or validate competitive claims. Does your competition really have the number of employees and/or customers that they claim? How long have they really been in business? Does the owner really have the kind of experience that is claimed? These are all questions that Business intelligence companies can answer.