In its latest survey of 17 competitive intelligence software packages, Fuld & Co. urges executives to match packages based not only on their features, but also on how they fit with a company's approach and progress in utilizing competitive intelligence techniques.
Technology serving the competitive intelligence arena has exploded in recent years. These technology tools come in all types and approaches, including: competitive intelligence (CI)-specific tools, text mining packages adapted to this market niche, new visualization tools, ERP technology, a raft of ASP offerings, custom solutions, as well as products designed for broader market intelligence applications.
Fuld & Co., an international leader in competitive intelligence education and consulting, assessed the packages on the basis of more than 120 criteria drawn from its Competitive Intelligence Cycle. These include the software's ability to aid in planning and handling published information, such as from trade publications and the Internet, and primary information, such as from field sales reps. Other criteria include the software's ability to aid in analysis and then to compile data for use in summary reports.
While the software packages are accorded scores in each of five key areas, Fuld & Co. avoids declaring "winners." "While the software packages excel at different CI functions, no single software package excels at all five intelligence processes," says Leonard Fuld, founder and president.
In addition, packages highly rated in particular areas may not be best suited to particular kinds of companies or companies at varying stages of competitive intelligence development. Fuld uses an example to illustrate this point: "One client, a chemical manufacturer, manages a CI function that produces mainly in-depth assessments of competitors, technology trends, and customer developments, and therefore looks for strong analysis support and workflow functionality in its CI software applications. The CI function of a financial services client, on the other hand, features a series of frequent but targeted intelligence briefs, which demand software that can quickly and easily facilitate the gathering of secondary and human-source intelligence and expeditiously disseminate finished intelligence."
The survey points out that most packages fall under two broad categories: products designed specifically for CI, and tools that were not built with CI in mind, but could be used to augment the intelligence process. Choosing between the two is a vital decision, particularly with regard to budget. It may be much easier to justify spending $500,000 on an enterprise-wide application used by 10,000 employees than to spend $30,000 on a software package that will be used by only 10 CI analysts.
The software companies whose CI products were evaluated include Autonomy Inc., Brimstone, Cipher, ClearForest, Coemergence, Comintell, Cymfony, firstRain Inc., Netro City, Nielsen BuzzMetrics (formerly Intelliseek), QL2 Software, Rocketinfo, Strategy Software Inc., TEMIS, Traction Software, and Wincite Systems. Fuld & Co. does not sell or re-sell any of the software evaluated in this report.
Executives can obtain a copy of the report by going to http://www.fuld.com/Products/ISR2006/HomePage.html, registering, and filling out a brief qualifying survey.
Fuld & Co., with offices in Cambridge, MA, and London, offers its clients a unique combination of services, all centered around a common theme of gaining a better understanding of the external competitive environment and directly applying that understanding toward running a business.
For further information, contact:
Gumpert Communications Inc.