In the telecom industry where customers are constantly switching providers to get the best value, having the right competitive data can make all the difference. That’s why cable and telecom providers employ teams of experts to analyze this data and craft the perfect competitive response; at least, that’s the idea. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of the industry, these teams often spend more time collecting and maintaining the data than combating the threats. That’s where 3rd party competitive intelligence companies, or virtual CI teams, earn their living. These six benefits of virtual CI teams are why every cable and telecom provider should consider enhancing their team with one.
1. Quicker turn-arounds on data requests
New competitive threats and opportunities require quick action. Even a small delay can mean thousands of dollars to the bottom line. If you’ve ever wished you could get to market faster or stressed about the time it takes to formulate a competitive response, CI vendors can help. These teams spend all day, every day monitoring the competitive landscape, and offer years of experience navigating competitive websites, sifting through marketing campaigns, and finding tedious details in terms, tariffs and fine print. This experience results in fast turn-arounds on all your data collection requests.
2. Up-to-date, reliable data
Data accuracy is the key factor when it comes to competitive intelligence. Without accurate data, it becomes difficult to prepare the proper response to competitive threats, and impossible to know if your response is right. Poor data quality is the #1 cause of distrust between CI teams and their internal stakeholders. 3rd party competitive intelligence vendors stake their business on data accuracy and completeness. If they don’t provide accurate data, they won’t stay in business long. Virtual CI teams use proven tools and methodologies to ensure that the data they provide is accurate and substantiated, which gives you the peace of mind to answer confidently when a competitive threat requires an immediate response.
3. Freedom from data collection
Finding, checking, and collating data takes time, especially in the telecom and cable industry. Time that your internal clients are expecting you to use to provide insight and analysis specific to your competitive situation. If you routinely feel squeezed between pressure to provide insight and collect more data, augmenting your squad with a virtual CI team is the solution. Competitive intelligence vendors are experts in data collection. They know provider websites inside-and-out, have access to the best data collection tools (even in-house ones), and have a tested methodology to ensure the highest quality data. Allowing a CI vendor to collect data for you gives you the freedom to do what you do best.
4. Industry expertise
CI professionals routinely say that demands for data are almost always urgent and important, making all-around industry expertise essential to meeting requests on time. And yet, the complexity of the cable and telecom industry makes this difficult to pull off. At what point in your day do you or your coworkers have time to research a topic you are unfamiliar with? CI vendors solve this problem by filling in the knowledge gaps on your team. The best vendors offer large teams with years of experience. Their size allows them to quickly and accurately research the competition regardless of the scope. Their experience ensures that they know where to find even the most obscure of data requests. Because of the nature of their work, virtual CI teams have the expertise needed to answer all data requests in a timely manner.
5. In-depth historical data
Stakeholders from retention to pricing find value in historical data to help them determine where the opportunities and threats are located. The problem is that historical data is difficult to keep and maintain. As employees come and go, methodologies for storing, finding, and recording data can change. Likewise, stored historical datasets are often incomplete; you might have some broadband data, but nothing on video or voice. 3rd party competitive intelligence teams have methodologies that stay consistent from year-to-year to ensure that data quality remains intact. These companies also have the resources to invest in storing and maintaining large historical datasets. Using a CI vendor usually means access to backlogs of historical data including when and where competitive changes occurred. If you find your stakeholders routinely asking for data going back 3-5 years, a virtual CI team is your best solution.
6. Significant savings
This one is simple. The databases of competitive information that CI vendors create and maintain serve as a shared resource for the industry, so clients of these vendors end up only paying for a small fraction of the research, not the whole cost. And, because the heavy-lifting is typically already done, clients see a savings in time as well, allowing them to focus on what they do best: the competitive response.
At the end of the day, virtual CI teams make it easier for telecom and cable providers to focus on winning and retaining customers. When looking for a competitive intelligence solution, it’s important to ask about their experience, ability to customize their reports and datasets to your scope, and methodology used to collect and substantiate data. Meeting the mark on those topics will lead to huge savings in time and money for your business.
If you’re looking for a place to start, Telogical Systems can help. As the premier provider of competitive product and pricing intelligence for the U.S. cable & telecom industry, they have over 15 years of experience enabling providers to focus on the competitive response and not the drudgery of data collection.