Businesses today tread on very rocky terrain. The landscape is shrouded with adversities like disruptive technology, fluctuating customer demands, fierce competition, and shorter time to market. If you must fit in and survive in this harsh environment, it is not enough to have a clear focus on your objectives alone.
You must have visibility on what others are doing to be able to come up with strategies that will help you surpass them. This ability to collate and analyze information on your competitor’s activities to build strategies that work towards your advantage is a crucial business skill called Competitive Intelligence.
The AI enabler in building Competitive Intelligence
AI consultant service providers have been honing their skills in helping businesses leverage the technology benefits of AI in building their competitive intelligence. Intelligence about your competitors is based largely on the data that is made available on competitor websites, news articles, social media portals, and industry reports. AI Consulting services providers help you efficiently step through each phase.
As they crawl the unstructured text data from diverse sources AI uses NLP techniques to extract objective insights through vocabulary building, word modeling, and keyword scraping. NLP is also used to help AI build your competitive Intelligence through sentiment analysis. It helps you identify customer emotions for your competitor’s products and services and plan your product profiling based on that.
AI Consulting also helps you configure automated alerts to notify you of any competitor events namely, product launches, promotions, price upgrades, or changes in market trends. The alerts are configured for real-time updates which helps you make prompt and effective decisions.
Competitor pricing is a very critical piece of information to help you make strategic pricing decisions for your own business. You can make a lot of informed decisions if you are aware of how your competitor is modeling their pricing plans. AI algorithms help you analyze pricing data to curate this vital information nugget.
Does AI provide the right intelligence?
Technology though empowering is often challenged by its limitations. AI is no exception. While on the one hand, it helps accelerate your decision-making power, on the other hand, it often falls short on several grounds. Restricted by its constraints and shortcomings, AI poses a challenge in helping you build competitive Intelligence efficiently.
· Data prejudices
Data curated from multiple sources is not without its fair share of bias. Several prejudices, both social and historical, mar its accuracy. As AI extracts this information it inherits these biases. This is often a deterrent in helping you make the ideal decision.
· Data inadequateness
AI is often plagued with collecting inadequate data. The incomplete data may hinder accurate insight building which is a bane for collating effective competitive intelligence.
· Validating Aggregated Data
AI aggregates data from a variety of sources. The diverse nature of these sources may sometimes make it difficult to differentiate between sensitive and personally identifiable information (PII) which might infringe on data privacy rules.
Also, AI may not be able to validate the authenticity that the aggregated data adheres to Data privacy rules and regulations.
· De-identifying Data
Data privacy is a serious obligation that all organizations must adhere to. De-identifying or anonymizing data to remove all personal identifiers is a vital requirement for ensuring data privacy. However, AI while extracting data from unstructured formats, may not be able to completely de-identify these identifiers thereby compromising the privacy and security of the data being collected.
· Misinterpretation of Data
Sentiment Analysis is a very effective AI technique that helps in building competitive intelligence. However, instances have been reported where AI was unable to interpret and represent the sentiments collected from available data. This led to inaccurate strategy building which adversely impacted the business.
Misrepresentation could also occur in product reviews, churn predictions, stock market predictions, and healthcare diagnosis all of which are a result of the limitations of AI to understand nuances, subtleties, and real-world complexities.
· Data breaches
Compromised data will not help you form an accurate estimate of your competitor’s abilities and activities. AI is not always able to prevent Data breaches resulting in a severe limitation in its abilities.
AI like any other technology is not infallible. It trains and learns nuances, rules, and language to perform its role. However, if it encounters incidents that are not within the purview of its training then it fails to perform appropriately. The inability of AI to prevent data breaches is one such example. It will be unable to track and prevent threats that have no historical reference. Data that is being collected therefore is at significant risk of being subjected to malicious attacks.
Moreover, AI is also vulnerable to generating false positives and false negatives. Security systems driven by AI may incorrectly flag innocuous activity as malicious and miss out on the real threat. This often leads to false alarms and missing out on detecting a breach.
· Plugging the Gap
Despite the advanced technological support that AI provides to help you automate and collect competitor data, it is always a good practice to employ your judgment while making critical decisions. Combining human insights with technology helps to adopt a balanced approach in your decision-making practice. AI Consulting services can be employed to help your business cull out information from these sources using web crawlers or data-scrapping tools like Octoparse, ParseHub, Mozenda, and several others.
Define your objectives for undertaking a competitive Intelligence building exercise. You must define the specific insights you require to help you meet your goals. Clarity of thought and purpose go a long way in helping you achieve the true competitive edge you desire.
When you know the type of insights you require, you are also able to define the specific source you need to reach out to to acquire the insights. Define the data sources that are relevant for your industry competitors.
Building Intelligence with AI
AI Consulting service providers can help you identify and select the appropriate AI tools that will help you in this exercise. Tools may be just enablers but selecting the right tool helps you make the right decisions promptly.
When a lot depends on the quality and reliability of the data being collected, you must invest time and effort in cleaning, validating, and normalizing the data. Preparing the data before extracting it for insight building helps in ensuring the accuracy of the insights being formed.
Data privacy is a critical element. Ensure that you adhere to ethical practices for collecting data. All regulations about data privacy must be kept in focus to avoid compromising the security and authenticity of the data.
It is vital to employ the assistance of an efficient and experienced AI consulting service provider to help you achieve this. Human expertise in monitoring the interpretation and representation of data is critical to avoid misrepresentation and inaccurate insight building.
In the current business scenario, you must be aware of your competitor’s strengths to build your strategies. AI as a technology innovation is an excellent support in helping you build competitive intelligence. However, it is not without its limitations. To continue regarding it as a boon rather than a bane in helping you build relevant business insight you must fill the gaps with human expertise and judgement.