We believe that organizations, just like humans, need to evolve to survive. But a difference is emerging between the two. Since 1900, the life expectancy of humans has more than doubled to 70 years. But in the same period, the life expectancy of a company (S&P 500) has decreased by more than 50 years, from 67 years to just 15 years today. Clearly, unlike humans, organizations are not evolving fast enough to survive the competitive battles required to capture markets, i.e. win customers.
According to Sun Tzu — Art of War, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Applying Sun Tzu’s insight to an organization, the “know yourself” concept is self-awareness of an organization about its true culture, strengths & weaknesses, and the “enemy” is the competitor. There are many tools to address the “know yourself” aspect of an organization, such as ERP systems, Business Analytics Software, etc. But very few tools are available to address the “know the enemy” aspect. We believe for organizations to survive and grow, there is a clear need of strong tools specialised in tracking, and analyzing competitors and other market variables. Therefore, we built Contify — an AI-enabled market and competitive intelligence platform.
Traditionally, in an organization, there are a few individuals, a.k.a. leaders, who have spent years and developed a deeper understanding of the industry. They have established important personal networks to access the right information. These leaders take organizations forward. But they also make an organization dependent, which is not good for long-term sustainability. Also, time and energy is wasted in building consensus on important topics, because different individuals have different versions of the “true” market conditions — based on different information that they are exposed to.
We believe, the process of knowing your enemy can become far more efficient if there were a tool that aggregated important information from reliable sources, allowed individuals to add their own information, and also share it within the organization. This tool would help in building a common and more fundamental understanding of the true market conditions.
The need for such a tool was never as strong as it is today because of the speed at which market conditions are changing in this new world of advance Internet technologies. Today, a significantly large volume of information is available in the public web. But the problem is that important information often gets lost in the digital noise. This tool should be able to filter out the duplicate and irrelevant content, and provide only unique information relevant to businesses. Also, it should be able to structure the information for easy analysis and consumption.
In our journey of developing Contify, we realised that no machine learning algorithm can come close to the discerning power of the human mind, but on the other hand, no human mind can process as much information as intelligent algorithms. Therefore we developed a finely balanced hybrid platform which fuses machine learning and human analysis into one unified market intelligence solution. After processing all the information with intelligent machine learning algorithms, we added a layer of human curation to provide high quality information to our users.
Just like humans, no two organizations are the same. And information requirements of one organization are different from the other. Therefore, we cannot deploy a general-purpose information product and expect that all users will find value in it. These products have to be customised to speak the language of the organization. Therefore, we designed Contify from the ground-up to be customised to each organization’s needs, but with the same core information processing architecture.
Different organizations are at different stages of maturity in their journey of implementing Market Intelligence (MI) programs — from simple Google alerts to full-blown Market intelligence teams with clear deliverables. In most organizations, there are a few individuals who are tracking competition by simple Google alerts. Such alerts help in tracking only significant news about competitors. But they only touch the tip of the iceberg. To access competitors’ information under the ocean of digital noise, we need specialised Market and competitive intelligence platforms that intelligently mine specific information from the web.
Competitive intelligence is much more than a list of news articles based on search keywords. It is basically analysing the positioning of competitors and anticipating their next steps. Depending on the type of business, insights can be extracted from analysing different kinds of signals. We need to listen to the web for the right signals and identify the trends before they become public information. For example, competitors’ strategy can be analyzed by connecting the dots of information available in news coverage, company announcements on acquisitions, strategic partnerships, senior management hiring; disclosures in analyst calls, annual reports; analysis of content marketing, thought leadership articles, social media updates, etc.
In the long run, all information will be available in public information. But not all companies will benefit equally from it. Those who have developed MI capabilities will be able to anticipate the changes before others. These organizations will be prepared to adapt and evolve with the market conditions. These organizations will compete fiercely in the battle for market share. These will be the organizations that need not fear the result of a hundred battles!