We are all aware that once Nokia was the undisputed leader of the mobile handset market. It virtually ruled the market with a lion’s share, with competition coming nowhere close and on top of it Nokia had a huge loyal customer base.

Had Nokia made a fatal mistake of ignoring what competition was doing, what customers desired and what shift was happening in market??

At it’s peak, Nokia was valued $300bn, slashed down to a paltry $350m when Microsoft sold it in 2016 to Finnish company HMD.

If you are not monitoring the competition, this can happen to you too, without you even realize it.

Are you aware of what is happening in your market?

Consider this…Was Nokia not aware of what was happening?

Nokia was a professionally managed company, it had all the resources at it’s disposal, it was the pioneer, and it had some of the best talent in the industry and access to top notch research agencies.

So what could have gone wrong?

In my work span of 24 years, I have come across many instances, where prominent companies have overlooked strategic information, therefore I have jotted down 7 actionable steps which will definitely help you to audit your process as well.

1. Give Importance

To monitor the market, first and most important step is that the entire strategic leadership understands and values the importance of this activity and allocates sufficient bandwidth and budget.

2. Mindset

You need a mindset of a hawk which can see and process the minute indicators the market is throwing at you. Most people fail to notice the subtle and hidden indicators information is hinting at.

3. Fixed Periodic Review

You and your team should have a fixed review meeting scheduled well in advance, you cannot do this on ad hoc basis. Most of the successful CXO’s do it around 10th of every month. Many people fail here, not because they are bonehead, but because they are way too smart and genuinely assume a random ad hoc review is more than enough.

4. Do not delegate

This is one activity, you should never delegate, because only you have the vision, only you can decipher the hidden indicators, only you have the power to connect the dots. You have the power to think ahead.

5. Format of Competitive Intelligence Report

Data is boring, you don’t want to get buried in huge pile of data. Most of the people avoid this activity due to the time it sucks up.

Make sure the report is simple, concise and offers actionable and thought-provoking insights. It must contain competitor specific information; mere statistics won’t help. You must get this customized to have only those metrics which matter.
Here is a link to download a free template designed by me


Some examples of top metrics-
a. Overall Market size and growth rate
b. Your market share and growth rate
c. Top 5 Competitors Market share
d. Top 5 Competitors Growth Rate
e. Top Products offered by Competition
f. New emerging Competitors in market
g. Price band comparison
h. Relationship of your buyers / Suppliers with your competitors.

This is a critical piece of intelligence you should have on your desk, knowing what relationships your competitors have with your buyers and suppliers can help you come up with a strategy that will take care of your interest.

6. Source reports with names of competitors

Competitive intelligence is available. For export import, more than 50 countries release bill of lading or shipping bill data in public domain, from this data an    authentic and strategic report can be prepared.

Check out the link given below of one of the online app that offers latest view of 500 shipment records for free.

Volza- http://bit.ly/volza-export_import_competitive_intelligence

7. Choose a right competitive intelligence vendor

Most people fall for either very big names or settle with a cheap vendor. Both ways you may be either wasting money or getting unreliable information. Use these 9 criteria to zero down on to a right vendor.

• Values

First and foremost, ensure you choose a value and customer centric vendor, you are sourcing information from.Unfortunately there is a multiplicity of truth available in market, you must choose a vendor with high integrity and values.

• Authentic

Information has to be authentic and reliable, without this the whole purpose is lost. Many vendors do well initially and can even cross verify the information but once the project is awarded, they compromise on authenticity of information. I have come across reports prepared from recycled data, that is by just changing the dates of old records. Some data is doctored by the govts itself, to project the trade data to suit their foreign trade policies.

• Credibility

Check the credibility of vendor, clientele, no of years in service, reference checks and good will.

• Domain Expertise

Don’t fall for big names, the most exciting and useful work is always done by passionate and expert team. Working with an expert can help you get the right      information at value for money.

• On-time 

Check if the vendor is able to deliver on fixed monthly schedule on-time, every time.

• Customized

Ensure that Vendor offers the format of report as you really want, it should be short, easy and simple. An expert vendor should be able to suggest a useful format.  Never ever fall into the trap of buying bulk raw data. You would never be able to use it.

• Coverage

Check if vendor has complete coverage of information and it is not a half baked research. All data points need to be covered. In export import the checkpoints are no. of ports, mode of shipment, no of countries. You can ask a direct question, what are the exceptions? What you do not cover?


In present time, knowing your competitors in not enough to hold your position into your niche domain but you always have to be one step ahead in terms of measuring every move of your competitors through your key business metrics. This may give you some odd feeling initially in adopting into the required nature of being proactive but believe me, you will be able to envision your business goals with clarity and minimum risk. Ability to succeed can be enhanced if you are equipped with right mindset to discern minute indicators, have subtle vision to identify hidden information and most importantly choose the right vendor with precise and authentic competitive market intelligence report. I wish you all the very best for your future business endeavour.


If this piece of information has added any value in your outlook, do share this post in your network so that other can also be benefitted. You can also connect with me and share your experiences, thoughts or feedback and I’ll love to hear them.

About the Writer

Raakesh Saraff is the author of upcoming book “Plan Or Perish”

Raakesh Saraff is an entrepreneur by heart and passionate about leveraging big data to extract game changing insights in export import business. Having helped 23,000 clients in last 23 years, his mission is to empower entrepreneurs to rapidly scale up with competitive intelligence. Raakesh is the founder Director of InfodriveIndia.com – world’s third data driven website, offered Business Intelligence Dashboards with extended coverage of 78 countries. Raakesh consulting assignment has created landmark shift in the businesses of his clients.