Let intelligence help you look into the future
Companies that are on the look-out for relevant information are more likely to be proactive, innovative and able to maintain their leadership position. Through ongoing, effective monitoring, they can detect early warning signs and dream up the ideas that are the building blocks of innovation.
Admittedly, the Tourism Intelligence Network may not provide the most objective assessment of the value of strategic intelligence. However, what it lacks in objectivity it makes up for in expertise and enthusiasm. Herewith a call to all companies to set up their own monitoring process. If you’re reading this, you’re already off to a good start!
For tourism companies especially, there are many excellent reasons to gather intelligence as it enables them to:
- monitor industry trends;
- better understand customer segments;
- be aware of its position in relation to its competitors;
- build on best practices;
- monitor emerging new markets and products;
- monitor and maintain its online image;
- analyze its online reputation.
Fishing for Inspiration
Competitive benchmarking is the process of comparing a firm’s practices and performance measures with that of its competitors. Sector-specific benchmarking is the process of identifying competitor operating methods on which the company can build. At a certain point, benchmarking can be useful as a means of answering a specific or ongoing question. This is where monitoring comes in.
- Competitive intelligence is used by companies to compare and position themselves in relation to their environment and adopt best practices.
- Sector-specific intelligence enables companies to stay abreast of the latest developments in a given sector and build on others’ best practices.
Ultimately, benchmarking fosters the kind of strategic decisions that bring the company to the forefront of its sector and keep it there.
There is no single solution for competitive or sector-specific intelligence. Subscribing to newsletters, signing up for Google Alerts, content curation tools (like Scoop.it) and intelligence tools are just some of the means at your disposal. Curation tools gather Web content on a given topic or area of interest and display it in a single interface. While effective, these can also be expensive.
To quickly and efficiently monitor a number of websites, for many years now, the Intelligence Network’s favourite tool has been the RSS feed aggregator, Netvibes which, like others of its kind (Feedly, for instance), is a customizable platform that aggregates content from other sites.
Source: my personalized Netvibes interface
Anticipating Customer Needs and Expectations
The participative Web gives companies the benefit of ongoing feedback from its customers, both positive and negative. Monitoring this feedback means they not only stay on top of and react to it, but above all, are able to understand their customers’ expectations and evolving needs and thus anticipate them. In other words, managing your online reputation begins by monitoring what is being said on social media and consumer review sites. There are many monitoring tools that help you do this, but it can also be useful to combine a few of them for better coverage. There’s ReviewPro and TrustYou for review sites, Hootsuite, Topsy and SocialMention for social media sites, to name just a few. Marketing and social media expert Frederic Gonzalo explains 30 of them here.
- Comments on social media and review sites do not necessarily represent the views of the majority;
- There are many monitoring tools and they evolve quickly. They should be reviewed from time to time, especially those that monitor social media, to ensure they have not become obsolete;
- Effective monitoring should take into account new information sources and emerging networks;
- As a general rule, quality is more important than quantity.
The Human Factor
Whatever the objective of the process or tool in question, the person doing the monitoring must be qualified. Human analysis can determine which information is relevant to the company’s strategic direction and upcoming projects, and enables the company to detect innovative content. The person who monitors its online reputation is supposed to assess the relevance of customer feedback. While only a few comments will lead to corporate change, most of them deserve an answer, or some kind of follow-up.
In order for it to be relevant, it is crucial that the monitoring be done with the greatest possible objectivity, especially when it comes to consumer reviews. The key is to truly focus on and tune in to trends and consumer needs.
The Time Factor
A study of 300 French decision-makers in companies with 20 or more employees found that 61% of them averaged two hours of monitoring per week. Some managed even more, with 35% spending an average of four hours gathering intelligence. Most of them were CEOs and, generally speaking, the monitoring was done outside of office hours. What about you, Quebec managers? How do you measure up?
The obstacles encountered by French managers include: the time required to find relevant information, the glut of information available, and source identification. The solution is often to delegate this task internally or to outsource it.
Did you know that for the past 10 years or more, the Intelligence Network has been gathering intelligence for Quebec companies?
Take another look at our 2007 Trendwatching Guide (in French). While some of the concepts and tools it mentions have evolved, the basic principles remain the same. It’s early in 2016; why not make a resolution, right now, that you will devote some time each day to gathering intelligence!
Source of the header image: Pexels
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- Bathelot, B. « Définition : Benchmark », Définitions Marketing, mise à jour le 28 octobre 2015.
- Comment Ça Marche. « Comment choisir ses outils de veille sur internet ? », Commentcamarche, décembre 2015.
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- Gonzalo, Frédéric. « 30 outils pour mieux gérer vos médias sociaux », Frédéric Gonzalo, 15 avril 2014.
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