December 04, 2000, 10:31 AM — Although most vendors of competitive intelligence software claim that their
products can do it all, few actually perform as advertised, and most fall far short of
user expectations, according to a study released last week.
Cambridge, Mass.-based consultancy Fuld & Co. published the study,
titled "Intelligence Software Report 2000."
Fuld reviewed more than 170 software packages for the competitive intelligence
market. Of the 170 products reviewed, only a dozen were found to offer enough
functionality to warrant immediate consideration -- and none of those provided complete
support for a company's competitive intelligence program, according to Fuld.
Unlike business intelligence, which focuses on customers, suppliers and other
strategic issues, the competitive intelligence market is focused on processing
information about a company's external environment, such as a rival's pricing strategy
or the financial impact of political turmoil in a key foreign market.
According to the report, software packages should support the full spectrum of the
competitive intelligence cycle, which includes planning and direction, published
information, primary source collection, and analysis and reporting.
Not Yet Satisfactory
In addition to offering support for only a few steps in the intelligence cycle,
nearly all of the software products failed completely in supporting data analysis,
according to the Fuld report.
Likewise, most products require a great deal of tailoring, and most claim to offer
out-of-the-box capabilities when in fact they don't, the report said.
"The software industry is a long way from delivering a satisfying business or
competitive intelligence solution," the report states.
Melanie Wing, head of competitive intelligence at First USA Bank NA in Wilmington,
Del., said she agrees with Fuld's assessment.
"Most of the packages that I have looked at have really just been fancy libraries
and don't have the platform and functionality to provide a complete solution," said
Wing. "It would be useful to have some sort of software tool that provides some
identification of key trends."
Still, Wing added, competitive intelligence professionals' ability to analyze data
isn't necessarily a capability "that could or should be replicated by a software
According to Wayne Eckerson, director of education and research at the Data
Warehousing Institute in Bethesda, Md., the findings of the Fuld study are also
applicable to today's business intelligence tools.
While most business intelligence tools are more mature than their competitive
intelligence counterparts, they still have shortcomings in terms of analytics and their
capabilities for marketing-analysis and campaign management, said Eckerson.