Competitive Intelligence Blog

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The Dirty Secrets of Intelligence Software Vendors

So, what happens after your chosen software vendor finishes implementing that shiny new competitive intelligence solution you purchased? Does great intelligence appear as promised by their sales team? Or do you learn about the dark side of dealing with software vendors?

There are three primary reasons why intelligence teams bring in a new vendor:

  • Teams want deeper insights than they are getting today.
  • Team want to reduce the hours they spend gathering and analyzing data.
  • Teams want easier ways to produce and disseminate information to stakeholders.

Let’s look at the dirty little secrets that software vendors may not tell you for each of these…

Teams want deeper insights than they are getting today.

Let’s face it, software demos often look great. With sexy preloaded data, all sliced and diced into amazing charts and reports, they can make a big impression. But did they mention that for your market, your platform won’t look like that? At least, not until you’ve invested hours every week loading and tweaking the data you want to see.

Many vendors simply help you plug in RSS feeds that only send you press releases and news articles. Will that alone really produce the deep insights you’re looking for? How impressed is your executive sponsor (who’s footing the bill) going to be when your internal briefings are mainly competitor press releases? If you want more than that, guess what…. you’ll have to collect it manually. And doesn’t that defeat the purpose of buying software?

Teams want to reduce the hours they spend gathering, tagging and transforming data.

Back to the sales person’s amazing software demo... The data looked clean, duplicates were removed, content was tagged with all the correct attributes and maybe even transformed into some categories of insight. When you ask how the system does all this the answer is, of course… Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Mining… usually a buzzword that sounds great and tells you very little.

But in fact, research by Pragmatic Marketing shows that fewer than 37% of buyers find technology vendors to be open and honest about their true product capabilities. So, if you want your data clean, accurate and transformed properly; you’re going to have to spend time fixing the errors and the missing content from the software engine. A buzzword isn’t going to do that for you.

Teams want easier ways to produce and disseminate information to stakeholders.

I’ll bet during the vendor’s software demonstration their sales person showed you how easy it is to click to classify an item as say, a competitor’s product presentation to be routed to the product team. And boy, it all looks so easy…

Unfortunately, more often than not, they aren’t disclosing all of the work required behind the scenes to make this possible. For example, who on your team is responsible for monitoring all the industry association websites every day to find that competitor product presentation? Who’s gathering RFPs, price lists and competitor sales presentations? Who’s going to organize and classify the data you do manage to gather? I thought you were trying to save hours…

But wait, they have a help desk that will assist you, right?

Is a software help desk the answer?


Software vendor help desks are not designed to actually do the work you need done.  Yes, they are great at troubleshooting technical problems, tracking down system bugs, and answering questions about setting up new queries. But when you need good intelligence delivered to you each day, they don’t deliver.

The Answer: Analyst-as-a-Service (AaaS)

You need to select a vendor that provides great software along with a dedicated research analyst who does all the work for you that the software can’t handle. This type of offering is typically called “Analyst-as-a-Service”.

An “Analyst-as-a-Service” subscription meets the goals of each objective above. Your analyst will go way beyond monitoring news feeds and press releases.  They’ll ferret out competitor R&D plans, roadmaps, patent filings, pricing, RFPs, sales presentations, contract awards, and other hard-to-find information you really need.

Your assigned analyst will ensure that all information flowing into your platform is relevant, accurate and transformed into an easily digestible format. They'll remove the noise and ensure that companies, topics and tags are accurate so that newsletters and ad hoc reports are easy to generate.

In addition, with accurate categorization and tagging, end users can receive automatic email briefings on precisely what they care about. This personalization drives high user adoption while reducing the burden on internal teams to manually deliver diverse briefings.

So, next time you consider a new intelligence solution, look for a vendor that provides the software along with a dedicated analyst. This powerful combination will avoid buyer’s remorse from a software-only solution that only delivers a partial solution to your needs.

Interested in learning more? Schedule a demo to see how our software plus Analyst-as-a-Service solutions can accelerate your intelligence function.