The first thing you need to do effective competitive intelligence (CI) research is good content. And the more content sources you have, the more challenging it is to ingest, integrate and harmonize all the information those sources provide to make it readily accessible and useful to professionals throughout your organization. So, you might say content ingestion problems can cause CI indigestion.
Since competitive intelligence research is about the “outside world” – what’s happening in the markets your organization serves and, specifically, at the companies you compete against currently, or may compete against in the future – your CI content starts with business news from reliable media sources. This is probably some combination of reputable general business publications and websites, and industry-specific journals and sites… but most definitely not websites that just aggregate stories from other sites and offer no original content of their own; they offer virtually no value to the CI function. Of course, your competitors’ websites are another invaluable source of information; so too are their executives’ presentations to financial analysts and investors at conferences and, for publicly traded companies, during quarterly earnings calls, which Northern Light offers through its proprietary collection called Corporate Financial Reports.
Many large organizations complement these sources with licensed premium content from industry research firms – in the information technology industry, it’s firms like Gartner, Forrester, and IDC; in the pharmaceutical industry, it’s firms like Citeline, Decision Resources, and Kantar (just to name a few, as Northern Light works with scores of life sciences content providers) – to provide third-party expertise and informed perspective. They also may subscribe to industry databases or proprietary content collections, such as Northern Light Life Sciences Conference Abstracts, which offers valuable (and otherwise impossible-to-find-in-one-place) intelligence about forthcoming pharmaceutical industry innovations.
Now, armed with all these content sources, the vexing issue becomes how does an organization bring them together into a single, holistic, and integrated competitive intelligence repository, especially when third-party publishers may have their own preferred publishing technology, indexing and tagging protocols, and schedules.
The first piece of the puzzle is ingesting the content. Northern Light’s approach to this is straightforward: we say to content publishers, “We’ll do it your way, and handle all the complexity and normalization on our side.”
That’s easy to say, but hard to do, because there are numerous options. If the publisher offers an API, which some do, that’s optimal. Other publishers deliver content to a FTP site; still others provide an RSS feed with attached documents, or with a link to a website location we can crawl. Then there’s the option of a control directed web crawl with credentials to a protected site, or even pulling content off a DVD. Northern Light has done them all.
But just as important as technical prowess and flexibility is trust. The only reason any of this works is because publishers trust Northern Light to deliver their valuable content, securely and accurately, to their clients – and that’s because, in over 25 years, Northern Light has never delivered a document to a user who was not entitled to receive it.
Which goes a long way to ensuring that both CI researchers within an organization and publishers of the content they consume don’t suffer any “indigestion”.