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Creating A Technology Profile on a Competitor February 1, 2009

Posted by analyticsman in business, competition, competitive intelligence, Technology.
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Why would you want to research and understand a competitor’s IT environment?

  • Part of a merger/acquisition analysis
  • Competitor IT SWOT Analysis
  • Understanding what IT initiatives are underway may give clues into larger competitor initiatives

Let’s say a competitor across town is getting ready to implement SAP.  You are an SAP shop.  Your competitor is going to need good SAP people for the implementation.  Your competitor might like to steal some of your SAP expertise away from you.  Knowing about the implementation in advance gives you an opportunity to try to head off any human capital losses.  Or, maybe you are the one implementing SAP and want to make a move to steal away some SAP analysts from your competitor. 

These are a few examples.

How do I learn about my competitor’s IT environment?

It’s amazing how much you can learn with a little effort and an internet connection!  You can build a pretty good profile on a competitor’s environment relatively quickly.  I’ll show you how and where to do the research to start assembling that profile.

Here are the sources and tools we are going to work with:

  • Resumes from recent or current employees
  • Job postings by the company
  • Press Releases
  • Performing a technical analysis of the company’s website
  • Tools

Let’s get started, shall we?

Resumes from recent or current employees

Employee resumes are available all over the internet.  They are on personal web pages, on Monster.com, Myspace, Linkedin profiles, etc…etc.  Each of these websites has it’s own search tool.   Resumes or profiles hold various levels of detail of information in them.  Some will be very high level and just say that the person was employed as a developer at company X.  Others will provide more information.  Some will tell you the speicific version of software used.  Others will tell you how much revenue the project they were working on generated.  The more a person wants to convey how important the project that they were working on was, the more detail they are likely provide.  So, by looking at current or previous employee resumes, you may be able to get a sense of what the technical environment of a company is like and details on some of the specific projects going on.

Job Postings By the Company

Watch for job postings by a company.  Job postings provide specific details about what skills a company is looking for in order to meet their needs.  Experience with specific technologies and software version numbers are often identified.  Sometimes desired business experience is called out.  Job postings can be big clues into projects that are being ramped up for.  They also tell you the details about the technical environment at the organization.  Pay lots of attention here, folks.

Press Releases

Press releases can give you information about newly formed partnerships.  For instance, you might learn that your competitor launched into a strategic sourcing agreement with a company in India.  You might learn that your competitor is using a specific software vendor.  There are a lot of tools that can alert you everytime your competitor appears in the news….like Google.

Performing a Technical Analysis of the Company’s Website

Somebody that is technically saavy can learn a lot just by looking at your competitor’s website.  Some things are very appearant at first glance.  You can also user your web browser to perform a ‘View Source’ to look at the page’s source code.  There are things that can be learned by looking there.  You can find out if the sites are coded in .NET or a java websphere environment by just looking at the file name extensions.  Sometimes you can determine what internal search engine tool is in use.  Have your favorite techie take a look and tell you what he or she finds.


There are some tools that you can use to help you understand a technical environment.  The good folks at WebAnalyticsDemystified have a tool that can look at any url you provide and it will scan the site to see what web analytics tool is being used on that website.  The Vendor Discovery Tool 2.0 is really nifty.  Using this, you can find out what vendor supplies them with their web analytics reporting.

What are your suggestions for creating a technology profile on a competitor?  What has worked for you?  What do you think is important?  What do you feel is most important in a technology profile?  I want to hear from you!

Twitter as a Competitive Intelligence Tool? October 16, 2008

Posted by analyticsman in competitive intelligence.
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Twitter is a mini social networking application.  It’s sort of a blogging tool for one or two lines to distribute to your friends and family.  Wikipedia reports that there are 2,200,000 users.  The mini-blogs that you write can be no more than 140 characters.  People use the tool for all sorts of crazy reasons…to tell friends what they ate for lunch…to tell friends what CD they are listening to…to tell their network what movie they are seeing this evening, etc…etc…

Twitter has been gaining acceptance in the business world as new and legitimate business applications for the tool are discovered.  I’m not going to go into those right now.  I think it has legitimate benefit to the competitive intelligence community. 

Twitter has an online search utility…Twitter Search.  You can type in specific phrases to search on.  What you get back is a list of the mini-blogs that people have sent out to their network of friends, family, and co-workers that contain that phrase.  I’m sure you can tell where I’m going with this.  The old saying…loose lips sink ships.  Well, loose hands on keyboards can do the same thing.  I typed in a few big company names just to see what showed up.  I’m posting a couple of items I found.  I’m removing the specific company names from the text.

  • XYZ: X Company is building an innovation lab that rivals anything you’d see at a high tech brand. Just saw the blueprint. Very cool.
  • ABC: Company Z getting busy with android dev, word is

This may be a place to check from time to time to see if anything revealing has been posted about a competitor that warrants further investigation.

What are your thoughts?

Competitive Intelligence Tools September 30, 2008

Posted by analyticsman in business, competition, competitive intelligence.
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I’m just getting started on this blog and it’s my first blogging experience.  I want to avoid sending you off in other directions.  I’d rather post good value-adding content here and keep you around.  However, Avinash Kaushik is a web analytics expert, evangelist, blogger and author who has some really great posts on his blog about competitive intelligence tools.  His blog is called Occam’s Razor. His postings are tutorials that can help you to extract some great insights about a competitor’s online activities.

I highly recommend that you read each of these postings.  The comments in each of the postings are informative as well. 

I wish I had some unique insights to add, but Avinash has done an incredible job in each of his detailed posts.  There is much to learn here.