What does the future of Competitive Intelligence look like?

Competitive intelligence (CI) has a huge contribution to a company’s growth when implemented and executed correctly. The three key areas in which it contributes the most is revenue growth, ability to quickly adapt to market changes, and the ability to holistically impact the company. As per the SCIP survey, the foundation of CI does matter. The companies having defined KPIs for CI were more than two times as likely to see an increase in their revenues as a result of CI efforts as compared to those without defined KPIs. And the companies that saw revenue increase as a result of CI were 63% more likely to increase CI headcount and 66% more likely to increase CI budget.

So, where is the future of competitive intelligence headed? In this whitepaper, you will learn:

  • How CI is growing as a result of the increasing competition in every industry
  •  Who the competitors are and why it is important to track them
  •  How the CI teams are growing
  • Where the CI budgets are being utilized

Competitive intelligence (CI) is fast gaining popularity as a crucial element when it comes to building a business strategy. CI professionals and market analysts are spending a fair amount of time capturing, analyzing, and acting on competitive intelligence data. With CI being traditionally a manual process, it is now becoming more popular and digital, owing to the rising automation, data proliferation, and tools that have transformed the way businesses can capture and analyze their competitors’ activities. Here’s a detailed look into how CI has emerged as an important tool over the past few years and what does the future looks like.

Industries have become more competitive than ever

Almost every industry is becoming more and more competitive with the passing time. With the new players entering the markets and the older companies already present, staying ahead of your competitors has become even more challenging now. As per Crayon’s SCIP survey, a whopping 90% of businesses said that their industry has become more competitive over the last three years, and 48% said that it has become much more competitive. Moreover, the average number of competitors that businesses had in 2019 was 25, and it is expected to increase to 29 in 2020. This increasing competition is mostly due to varied competitive forces, including an increase in the number of competitors. Among organizations, large enterprises have the greatest number of competitors, but all size businesses have witnessed an increase in competitors every year. Thus, the growth in CI investment comes as a direct result of the ever-increasing competition in the industries.

Who are your competitors?

Competitive intelligence is considered complete only if it covers the whole competitive landscape. There are multiple types of competitors – direct competitors, indirect competitors, and aspirational competitors. To have a full understanding of the competitive landscape, you need to track not only your direct competitors but also indirect and aspirational competitors, customers, prospects, partners, etc, who can and will influence your business decisions. According to the survey, prospects and partners were least often tracked. But the frequency with which they are tracked varies considerably – while 90% of the businesses track their direct competitors frequently and 89% of the businesses track their indirect competitors and their own company, indirect competitors are tracked less frequently (monthly or quarterly vs. daily). So, while the majority of the businesses are tracking indirect and aspirational competitors, the focus on others is expected to increase in the near future.

Competitive Intelligence teams are growing

More and more businesses are employing competitive intelligence nowadays to anticipate and respond to the challenges and problems before they arise. According to a survey taken by SCIP, around 57% of the businesses have CI teams of two or more dedicated CI professionals as compared to 37% two years ago. Around 6% of businesses still do not have anyone dedicated to competitive intelligence. However, the percentage of businesses that are not investing in CI continues to shrink every year. Many businesses are expected to see the continued growth of these teams. Around 46% said that they expect CI headcount to increase in the coming year, and another 50% expect it to stay the same. These trends are largely consistent across company sizes as well – from small businesses staffing up their initial CI hires to large enterprises continuing to expand their CI teams. The companies that saw revenue increase as a result of CI were 63% more likely to increase CI headcount and 66% more likely to increase CI budget.

Companies are investing more in CI – increased CI budgets

Investment in competitive intelligence has been witnessing an upward trend, which mainly includes people along with the budget for tools, data, consulting, and other resources. Around 46% of companies said that they are planning on increasing their CI budget this year, which is up from 33% in 2018. However, companies of all sizes are maintaining or increasing their budgets every year. About half of them are increasing their budgets, and most of the other half are keeping it the same. Overall, the percentage of businesses increasing budgets is expected to continue growing.

Furthermore, budgets for headcounts are increasing as well. Per the SCIP survey, around 12% of businesses are still taking the lean approach to CI with zero budget allocated to it, approximately half are spending $25,000 or more, and 28% are spending $100,000 or more annually. The budgets may vary significantly according to company size. About 60% of the large enterprises have CI budgets more than $100,000, while less than half of small businesses have budgets near to the $25,000 mark. This rapid growth implies that companies are now realizing the importance of competitive intelligence and that they are worth a larger investment. More companies are now seeing the value of both dedicated CI professionals and full competitive intelligence teams as well.


Competitive intelligence is fast emerging as a solution, which offers competitive insights that are accurate and latest, further helping the organizations to get an edge over their competitors by providing a significant strategic advantage. As we inch closer to the second half of the year, companies would want to make sure to keep up with the rapidly changing market scenario, especially in the COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 era. If you start re-designing your strategies and plans now, you’ll be better prepared to leverage the latest CI and industry trends in the future.
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