Competitive intelligence is fundamental to business success since it allows you to detect any new threats or opportunities in time for you to act accordingly. These days, a lot of companies utilize different digital tools and technologies to facilitate, automate and speed up the collection of data to get real-time information for business. But apart from tools, more and more companies are also hiring a competitive intelligence analyst to be in charge of gathering data, processing it and reporting information within their organization. So let’s take a closer look at the role of this specific kind of analyst.
The competitive intelligence analyst job profile
Requirements & Skills
Compared to many business intelligence positions, CI analysts are not required to have as many skills in statistics, big data and programming. Instead, since they usually work closely with sales and marketing, they should have a stronger background in these business functions. In fact, proven experience in competitor analysis, research and the collection of data for business purposes might be the most important factor for recruiters. Moreover, sometimes companies may even demand a specific CI certificate from an academic institution.
Even though they don’t need to be experts in computer science, technical knowledge and IT skills are appreciated. In particular, a good competitive intelligence analyst should be familiar and comfortable working with CRM systems, excel and other digital tools that are used in the process. Finally, even though the analyst’s role may sound like predominantly number-crunching, it actually requires strong written and verbal communication skills to be able to report, present, explain and discuss findings across different business departments and hierarchies.
Tasks & Responsibilities
The tasks of a competitive intelligence analyst can be easily divided in three major categories: collecting data, analyzing it, and reporting and communicating information across different departments.
Researching and gathering data on competitors is the fundamental task of this job. An analyst would, for example, spend a significant amount of time studying competitors’ product offerings, financial statements, road maps and strategies. Additionally, they’d monitor digital activities such as SEM ads, social media communications, Linkedin and job posts in order to obtain valuable insights. Moreover, they also need to track the news for any updates or changes in patents, legal information and economic developments. Finally, good analysts might also attend or participate in industry trade shows, conferences and seminars in order to stay up-to-date.
Besides data collection, analysis is the most important function of an analyst. For example, an analyst working on competitor analysis for a SaaS company would be in charge of identifying and testing different technologies of rivals and turning any data collected into clear information that can be used for decision-making. In larger companies, a CI analyst could be responsible for a single product line or niche whereas in smaller ones the focus might be more generic.
Another major, but often underestimated, part of this role is the communication of insights to business teams. An analyst would spend a great amount of time translating data into business terms, writing reports and presentations, and providing valuable information across different departments to support them in their decision making and strategy formation.
Due to their great expertise in the company’s competitive landscape, analysts are frequently included in internal meetings, client meetings, employee or onboardings. As a result of the high relevance of findings for sales and marketing, a competitive intelligence analyst might also be involved in product launches, demos, and strategic planning sessions.
In this digital age, the need for real-time data and information for business is more important than ever. This fact makes the role of a competitive intelligence analyst pivotal for business success. As a human interface that unites different departments and provides them with key insights, an analyst is a great source of knowledge that can add an objective layer to discussions and enable data-driven decision-making.