Before the internet, small “David” companies didn’t stand a chance against the Goliaths, says Corrine Sandler, CEO of Fresh Intelligence Research Corp., a global business intelligence company, and author of the new book, “Wake Up or Die” (www.wakeupordie.us), a comprehensive guide to the use of intelligence in the contemporary business environment.
“Thanks to the internet, the boutiques and startups have access to all kinds of free tools for gathering intelligence,” she says. “They’re also much more agile than the big corporations; they can make a decision and act immediately. That’s essential in a marketplace where conditions change quickly.”
In “Wake Up or Die,” Sandler applies lessons from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” to the modern business economy. Sun Tzu held that the goal in any war is to win without ever entering into physical battle.
She offers smaller business owners these tips for acquiring and using intelligence:
>>If you lack resources, make use of free or inexpensive intelligence-gathering tools. Visit competitors’ websites and collect data about them. Google Alerts can tell you when they’re releasing new products or expanding. Use Google analytics tools such as Google Hot Trends to tell you what’s in the collective consciousness – potential consumer demand – at any given time. Google’s key word tool will give you ideas for powerful key words in search terms, and use the traffic tool to measure global volume on those key words.
>>Make intelligence-gathering part of your company’s culture. Encourage employees to pay attention as they interact with others outside the company. They may discover a nagging issue that no other company is addressing, allowing you to create uncontested market space. Or, you may learn critical information about a competitor that allows you to seize an advantage. Make intelligence gathering a company lifestyle.
>>Appoint a Chief Intelligence Officer (CIO) to coordinate and analyze information from a variety of sources. In smaller companies, leaders tend to rely on pipelines of internal information provided by employees who don’t understand how to use intelligence to make empowering decisions.