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Small but mighty: How lean CI teams support large enterprises

In many organizations, even large global enterprises, the competitive intelligence (CI) function is staffed “lean”; in other words, it’s small.  Some Northern Light clients have fewer than a dozen full-time CI professionals supporting thousands of business professionals across an array of functional areas, including strategic planning, sales, marketing, product development, and more.

CI TeamsHow “mighty” that CI department is, therefore, depends upon how productive its team members are, which in large measure is dependent upon the technology they have at their disposal to support their research and analysis tasks.  And that technology must free the CI pros to focus their time and effort on high value-add services to their internal clients by automating as many of the routine, administrative tasks as possible.

In short, the only way for a small CI team to effectively serve the needs of a large enterprise is to create an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled insight distribution ecosystem – an infrastructure that directs relevant CI content and insights to the individuals who need it, in a timely manner, via whatever medium or mechanism those individuals prefer, automatically.  Options include strategic dashboards, search results, newsletters, machine learning-driven recommendations and insights reports, email alerts, RSS, and more.  In one case, a Northern Light client coordinates dashboards and newsletter strategies and distributes over 20,000 pieces of market intelligence a month to global staff members.

Strategic dashboards present curated topical content collections to users who prefer to browse to content.  Dashboards can present an entire story to a user in a convenient visual that allows the user to drill down on any element of particular interest.  A strategic dashboard may contain featured market research reports, analytics on related strategy issues, videos and content streams on relevant topics, downloadable PowerPoint presentations with rotating slides, as well as links to additional information.

The goal of an insight distribution ecosystem, of course, is to maximize consumption of content by those who can put it to best use.  And the impact of strategic dashboards on content consumption is dramatic:  One Northern Light client reported a three-fold increase in content consumption following deployment of multiple strategic dashboards.

Dashboards and newsletters work hand-in-hand.  In Northern Light’s SinglePoint strategic research portals, the newsletter tool uses the same resources as the strategic dashboard system.  The same content resources in the portal support dashboards and newsletters, and the same expert searches automatically populate regions of dashboards and newsletters.  Newsletters can be emailed to portal groups or Active Directory distribution list.  Experience shows the best practice is a one-to-one correspondence between dashboard topics and newsletter editions.

AI-based machine learning can contribute significantly to an efficient and effective insight distribution ecosystem.  For example, SinglePoint offers each user a personalized recommended reading list, generated by the system from watching the user’s behavior.  In addition, SinglePoint generates automated insights reports that distill the important information contained in documents that are part of a search result.

These and other components of an insight distribution system work together to help content find users, rather than forcing users to find content.  It’s a necessity in today’s business world, in which young professionals prefer to browse-to-content and are unfamiliar with the all-too-quaint notion of “search”.  And it’s a prerequisite for small CI groups to be mighty contributors to the success of their organizations.

To learn more about creating an insight distribution ecosystem at your organization, contact Northern Light.

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