Collaboration has become the new zeitgeist in the business world over the past few years. The days of dog-eat-dog competition have been left to rest for many industries, but this reporter for one misses the dose of healthy competition that brought with it. Dynamism of competition is important to stay lean, stay profitable and keep providing the best service for customers. Many got into business for this exact reason – the cut-and-thrust of going head-to-head with rivals brought out a character in corporate executives that was as much a motivating factor as their next bonus cheque.
While we may have had to yield to the marketing department on the image of competition within our firms, we’re still able to leverage our competitive characters in one key area: intelligence. Knowing what your competition is up to is key to being able to outperform them.
Imitation might be the best form of flattery, but it’s also a great way of catching up in the areas that you are falling behind. While outperforming and out-innovating them competition at the same time, of course.
Mikal Lewis for instance was involved in a race to get a company meeting software programme launched. Thankfully he’d studied at the Academy of Competitive Intelligence and was able to utilise the knowledge he’d gained there to track his competition closely, using a spreadsheet to track their public announcements content and patterns to estimate what stage of production they were at.
This enabled Mike to realise that his competition were getting ready for launch, enabling him to gain first-mover advantage by launching an early version of the software they were working on before the competition. Such moves can often mean a company gains traction that is impossible to beat – once you’re signed up to software, it’s hard to switch. And it’s not just software where first mover advantages matter.