Market intelligence is also known as market and opportunity assessments, and is used to identify opportunities and risks so that businesses can understand the market prior to building or expanding their business; and also for operating it seamlessly. Formulating a sound business strategy is central to the success of any organization. It is usually done through various business & marketing initiatives; market intelligence and market research are prime amongst them.
As mentioned, these activities are purely data backed and hence, are only as good as the data used to derive actionable insights. Market intelligence uses information derived through effective collection of data then used to analyze behavior and sentiments to conclude with information pertaining to markets, customers or competitors. Information obtained through market intelligence helps organizations to make effective and efficient business strategies. Market intelligence is leveraged to give context to, business intelligence, and thus plays a critical role in formulating crucial business strategies.
“The purpose of information is not knowledge. It’s being able to take the right decision.” – Peter Drucker
Market intelligence and market research have existed since ages, but most of the companies get confused when understanding the process and purpose of both. It is so because there is a very thin line which separates the two.
Let’s see what sets them apart:
Market intelligence is all about analyzing the industry trends, whereas market research is more organization centric; the one which is conducting the research. However, both of these have the same goal – to analyze business status, provide better customer experience and act on insights to adapt to relevant marketing strategies.
Marketing professionals analyze existing business data to gain market intelligence about competition, overall market, customer behaviors, political impacts and much more. However; market research is about company specific data collection by conducting customer surveys, collecting reviews, social media monitoring and social listening; and transform it into useful information. Moreover, most of the companies always go through market research before doing market intelligence as the information obtained from market research definitely adds context to market intelligence. Market intelligence needs a wide variety of data to be collected from disparate sources.
For deriving market intelligence, data is collected from external and internal sources:
External sources usually refer to data from secondary research, information gathered by data collection service providers, and social media listening.
Primarily collecting data from external sources consists of a lot of secondary research. Here is where the expertise of market research experts is put at task. The researchers should know exactly what to look for and where to find it. It may seem to be an easy task; but finding authentic and relevant data is a different challenge all together. It may sometimes take a few minutes, and sometimes, it may take hours and days to find the right data. This is where data collection experts walk into picture.
Social listening has also emerged as a very crucial form of external data collection. A range of data is collated, aka text mining, from different mediums like social profiles, forums, news, emails or blogs etc. and is then analyzed. The analyst looks for positive or negative trends which may impact the brand in any way. Sentiment analysis helps in knowing how the customer perceives a brand, a particular action of the company or a new product launch.
Internal sources usually refer to the data within the organization like CRM data, website analysis & employee feedback.
Customer database which are available from CRM is basically an untouched goldmine for most of the organization. A well implemented CRM can provide the company with valuable information like customer demographics, customer perceptions, customer profile, customer needs and wants etc. It can help the management in planning for effective customer retention campaigns as well as help in up-selling or cross selling products. Analyzing the feedback provided by customers on the launch of a new product or an existing product can help the company in making decisions such as increasing the product line or making any modifications or improvements in the current product.
Analyzing the traffic of customers on a company webpage also provides valuable insight into the requirements of a customer. An effective marketing campaign depends on the 3W’s (Who, What and Why). By analyzing web traffic, the management can get a clear idea about ‘who’ are the people visiting our page and ‘what’ they are looking for. Experimenting with these pages in terms of marketing messages/creatives and analyzing responses can help in formulating an ideal marketing strategy for the company.
“The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.”
What are the benefits of market intelligence?
As we learned till now, market intelligence is all about existing or prospective market, customers, challenges and the growth potential for new products and services with help of your business strategies. Also known as competitive intelligence, it answers queries about where to allocate more resources and which markets and channels could work to your advantage.
Enlisted are some of the acclaimed benefits of market intelligence:
- Enhancing brand presence in existing market
- Venturing in new markets
- Reducing risk of investments
- New product development – NPD
- Existing product enhancement
While, market intelligence may work for various companies in various manner, its sole purpose is to help organizations grow; may be in form of increased revenue, profits or market share, and also understanding rival companies market share.
Let us see how a Financial Service Provider used market intelligence to make sense of all the unstructured data & use it for their advantage:Market intelligence success story [Infographic]However, collecting all this information from the external and internal sources leaves us with a vast volume of unstructured data. This data comes from a range of sources and are in different formats or metrics and need to be processed. This is where data management experts walk into the picture with customized data solutions which suit the needs of your organization and are easy to implement.
How to implement market intelligence?
Market intelligence can be used successfully to create a perfect business strategy but how do you implement Market Intelligence practice for your company? Enlisted are the steps to implement market intelligence strategy – effectively:
Any organization willing to implement a successful market intelligence plan should have well managed data collection points. Market Intelligence usually deals with huge amounts of data coming from different internal and external sources. Manually entered data has a huge scope for errors; these errors may get extrapolated in the later stage of analysis and may cause the organization to take wrong decisions. Hence, it is essential to automate as many data collection points as possible to ensure error free data. Data collection occurs from a range of sources as mentioned earlier, and hence, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will ensure the errors to be at the minimum.
The data collected needs to be of high quality i.e. free of errors and authentic to ensure we get the right analysis out of it. Data cleansing is the process of editing, deleting and updating information in the database to ensure error-free and updated data. Data has a tendency to get outdated and changes very fast. Hence, data cleansing is a crucial step in implementing market intelligence.
Investing in Data Analytics Tools, Service, Platform
There are several tools like SQL, KNIME and Python, which help in analyzing the data which has been collected and cleansed from different sources. These tools help in taking the huge chunk of data and extracting relevant information out of it. They identify recurring trends and patterns, build metrics and provide insights that provide value, optimal solutions and cost advantages to your business. Finally, all this information is beautified and presented on a customized dashboard.
Hiring data collection experts who are apt at gathering information is a wise move. Lot of leading organizations outsource data collection to third party companies as they aptly gather information scattered across domains, appropriate to derive insights from it for market intelligence purpose. Equipped with automatic data collection and analytic strategies in and around how data is collected, parsed, stored and accessed. They collect data on real-time basis from traditional resources as well as from contemporary sources like social media and web logs. The qualitative data they gather is relevant to address exclusive requirements of various businesses. This data then can be used to create a comprehensive market analysis. Market Intelligence analysts need to analyze these reports and find relevant information pertaining to their market or competitors.
About Author: Chirag Shivalker heads the digital content for Hi-Tech BPO, an India based firm recognized for the leadership and ability to execute innovative approaches to data management. Hi-Tech delivers data solutions for all the aspects of enterprise data management; right from data collection to processing, reporting environments, and integrated analytics solutions.