I always held the belief that to understand the competitive landscape I needed to understand a number of different things. A bit like a jigsaw puzzle, I needed to piece things together to get the overall picture.
When I worked for a large consulting firm in the UK, I used to receive weekly or monthly reports on competitors, market, general news etc. These reports were pulled together from a number of sources by either my admin support, or central marketing or some other such function. I used to read through these reports and find 90-95% irrelevant or generic, a bit of a fill but nothing to act on as such. The other 5-10% was useful in so much as it taught me something I may not have already known, but it didn't specifically present an opportunity, risk or threat.
As a person responsible for business development, what I really wanted was to know key things that I recognized as important, relevant and a call to action. These things I called trigger events.
The problem was, I couldn't identify trigger events quickly enough and without wading through reams and reams of published media or struggling to phrase a question to a search engine relevant to the result I actually needed. I mean, asking a search engine a complex question is not an option, and even if it was, you still get 100,000's of results!! No. What I needed was an automated system that read all the relevant, global, industry papers, news, trade press and web sites and told me when a trigger event occurred.
Then along came Google Alerts and Google News. However, both of these solutions have an underlying issue, in that they still use the Google Page Rank process, which means you get to see what is popular based on your keyword (boolean) search, but not necessarily what is most relevant. Google unfortunately suffers from what I call the P5 syndrome, in that nobody (and I mean nobody) looks beyond page five (P5) of a Google result! But there are 100,000's of other pages parsed and indexed, so they must contain the keywords and in context, right? Yes, you are right, but we don't look because we assume Page Rank filters the wheat from the chaff, but it doesn't. It just sorts out the most popular from the leas popular and assumes that the most popular must be the most relevant!
The problem is, a lot of content posted on the Internet by people is not very well indexed, does not comply to best practice and cannot be easily 'seen' (parsed and indexed) by search engines. As such very few people find it, and as such very few people popularize it, and as such it sits on P6++ of the search return and you don't get to see it!
Because Google Alerts and Google News use the same underlying technology (Page Rank) the articles posted are not always the most relevant, are often duplicated, and are often well out of date. This is because Google time stamps the content based on when it is parsed and indexed, not on when it was posted originally. I have found instances where a Google Alert has produced a result timestamped on the day of arrival, only for me to discover that the article was actually two years old! This is because the Google Bot had never seen the site until recently. Maybe the site owner had gone through a SEO (search engine optimization) exercise recently, and now could be clearly seen.
The point is, Google Alerts and Google News didn't solve my issue, because I didn't want millions of hits, I didn't want legacy data, what I wanted was information that was relevant to me, delivered to me, as it happens and as close to real time as possible. Which is why we built www.MyFeedMe.com
Now, my question to you is; what value do you attribute to external business information as a component of an overall CI strategy?
For me, being able to add a competitor name/product/market to MyFeedMe and to continuously track and monitor trigger events relevant to that competitor in near enough real time, and to have that information sent directly to me as it happens (not to a central team who will print it, sit on it and eventually send it), is very valuable. But how does it sit within the framework of CI as understood by this group?
What I am trying to achieve here is twofold, firstly I would like to open up MyFeedMe to my peers for review and secondly, i would like to understand more about how and where MyFeedMe fits, either in the CI or BI space if the group have that knowledge.
Let me have your thoughts. By the way, we sell MyFeedMe at around $50 per user per month, just so that you know the price/value argument.