Data-driven decision making has given unprecedented importance to collecting and analyzing corporate data. While relying on their data-derived business intelligence is already essential for competitive brands, far too many organizations are still facing data-related issues such as managing multiple data sources, lack of collaborations between teams, data accessibility and data integrity.
This lack of data handling ability can lead companies and organizations to a position where they are forced to make decisions based on incomplete, incorrect or outdated information because their data is scattered across files, departments or even applications.
A recent study based on a survey of 419 decision-makers worldwide further revealed that insufficient data quality boosts the need for individual data preparation leading to more data silos. Nearly 62% of deciders believe that business users lack the competence to work with data providing yet another strong argument that companies should invest into creating a successful data strategy.
The Single Source of Truth Approach
As with many other business processes, optimizing data management across the enterprise can provide more value and savings for the organization: In this case, establishing a Single Source of Truth (SSOT) approach, eliminates most of the prior discussed data handling issues companies still struggle with.
SSOT, also known as a Single Version of Truth or the Golden Record, is a concept to ensure that all stakeholders in an organization base business decisions on the same standardized data by aggregating all of the company’s data to a single central location and creating an accessible information architecture within the organization. With this approach it is guaranteed that the data is correct, up-to-date as well as reliable and further can be used by anyone, at any time, in any way across the whole enterprise.
What are the Benefits of a SSOT
Instead of debating which of the many available data sources to use for business decisions, with a Single Source of Truth in place everyone is on the same page and can use the same, unified source for all data needs. Further, implementing a SSOT offers several advantages that siloed systems would not be able to provide:
Prevents incomplete, inaccurate or duplicate records from being created
Increases productivity & save time because everyone knows exactly where to look for the required information
Improvement of data quality, data accuracy and data integrity by eliminating data silos and preventing departments from operating as a black box
Ensures operating based on standardized, relevant data across the organization by using one unified source of data
Real-time and role appropriate access for all stakeholders
Empowers better decision-making by providing the right data at the right time
Improves communication because everyone is on the same page and has access to the same information
Managing Competitive Intelligence Data
Prior the importance of implementing a data management strategy as well as the benefits of maintaining a Single Source of Truth have been discussed. In the following we will take a closer look on why this approach is particularly important to improve the handling of competitive data and helps enhancing competitive intelligence capabilities.
Usually companies keep information about their strategy close to themselves and are publishing as little information as possible. For competitive intelligence (CI) teams that means analyzing every small hint a competitor is revealing in order to try to understand their overall strategy and anticipate their next steps.
Another tricky thing: The relevant competitive data could be hiding anywhere: In a company announcement, a patent specification, a presentation during a trade fair or even in a job advertisement. Some information might not be released at all or not by the competitors themselves but e.g. in business blogs, in podcasts or arise during personal meetings with customers or partners.
The challenge is now to bring together all of this potential data sources and figure out how this information could be utilized to develop a competitive advantage.
Centralized CI Approach and SSOT
Since almost every department and thus the entire company can benefit greatly from the ability to predict a competitor’s next move, it is particularly important to coordinate CI activities across the enterprise. Otherwise it will be difficult to prevent wasteful duplication of effort and the creation of information silos where each specific team has a specific set of information but nobody is able to look at the whole picture.
That is why CI efforts should be centralized: In a first step relevant teams should come together to talk about what specific data they are looking for. For example while the sales team is especially interested in the pricing structure of a competitor, the marketing department wants to gain more insights in their online presence and how it is performing. By coordinating and specifying the data requirements, it will be much easier to distinguish useful from irrelevant information.
However, the centralized approach does not only apply to teamwork across departments but also terms of a centralized data model, also known as SSOT. The CI database should be the golden copy of all competitive data. When people are looking for a specific competitive data point they go to the CI data base. Equally, when employees obtain new competitor information, they take it to the CI database. Ambiguity across the enterprise should thus be eliminated.
With multiple team members and departments providing information, the CI database will probably grow exponentially over time and could be somewhat overwhelming when too much unorganized information is available. Therefore another key element of a successful competitive data management is a well thought out data structure.
Presenting the right Data to the right Audience
Fortunately, there are competitive analysis tools out there which do not only serve as a database following the SSOT approach but further offer a complete platform for all competitive intelligence activities.
One of this tools is the competitive intelligence and benchmarking software GOBENCH which can help organizing and structuring competitive data according to individual business needs: Each user can use own specific database queries, a powerful search function and a personalized dashboard that displays exactly and only the information they really need.
Moreover, not every target group needs access to the pure data, but is rather interested in viewing the information in a larger context. With the appropriate tools, it is possible to present different use cases, carry out various analyses and evaluations and create individualized reports of the results at the push of a button.
Both data and knowledge have become valuable assets for organizations and must be managed and processed accordingly to give companies a competitive edge. A centralized approach to competitive data management can help companies make the right decisions and stay ahead of the competition.