Market intelligence has long been a key part of corporate and investment research, but its business criticality has skyrocketed over the past several years as companies navigate market uncertainty and look for ways to stay ahead.
Lingering pandemic impacts on the market, inflation concerns, socioeconomic volatility, and a continually faster pace of business—these factors and more—demonstrate why it’s so important for companies to stay informed on current happenings within their industries and what’s likely to come next.
That fact alone is why traditional market intelligence methods are no longer enough. These antiquated methods can even be detrimental, as they eat up precious time and resources. Companies need to level up their approach and adopt the right market intelligence technologies in order to uncover the insights they need.
In this guide, we’ll explore the top 5 market intelligence challenges of traditional market intelligence and how a modern platform solution can help you overcome them.
What is Market Intelligence?
Market intelligence is the systematic collection and analysis of data related to any markets that a company participates in. This includes data on competitors, customer segments, products and services, market activity, and more.
Organizations use market intelligence to inform strategy, understand their market position, and make smarter business decisions. In today’s ever-evolving and technology-driven business environment, the best market intelligence strategies are highly automated, AI-based, and seamlessly integrated into everyday decision making processes.
Common sources for market intelligence data include:
- Third-party industry research
- Company reports
- Meeting and event transcripts
- Expert calls
- News and press releases
It’s important to note that the goal of market intelligence is not to gather and analyze as much data as possible. Rather, it aims to zero in on the information that matters the most. Market intelligence platforms make this possible by centralizing data from top-quality sources and providing AI-search capabilities to pinpoint key insights. A market intelligence platform is the difference between hours wasted on fruitless searching through publicly accessible information on Google and across PDFs and mere minutes spent allowing AI to quickly pinpoint insights from often difficult-to-access, paywalled, premium content.
Gartner calls this practice X analytics — finding links between structured and unstructured data sources (tabular, text, video, audio, and more) without getting bogged down by its volume, extracting only the insights relevant to a specific user or strategy. It predicts that by 2025, nearly three-quarters of companies will shift to this data synthesizing methodology.
Why is Market Intelligence Important?
One thing is certain: Business environments today are more complex than ever. Constant change, higher levels of volatility, and increased interconnectedness have defined modern markets over the past several years. Market intelligence is what enables companies to navigate this complexity with confidence and make the smartest possible business decisions for their organizations.
Market intelligence is also now critical for achieving growth. Without it, companies are at risk of significant financial fallout, as well as, falling behind in the race for critical information. Gartner reports that poor financial decisions can cost companies up to 3% of their total profit, and poor data quality costs organizations $12.9 million annually.
In other words: companies cannot continue operating without investing in market intelligence.
Further, as market intelligence technology has advanced and adoption rates have increased, it’s become a competitive imperative across every industry. When competitors have access to insights you don’t, your company will likely miss out on opportunities and/or lose customers to more informed organizations.
Last but certainly not least, market intelligence empowers companies to establish and control their reputations as industry experts with a full understanding of market position, competitive landscape, and key industry trends.
The Top 5 Challenges of Market Intelligence
While there is no doubt that market intelligence is essential to modern business strategy, there are challenges to traditional methods that every business must understand and work to overcome:
Challenge #1: Siloed Content
Market intelligence sources are powerful as a whole. When analyzed together, they provide a holistic view of a given topic, company, or industry with insights rooted in the connections made across existing bodies of research.
Outdated market intelligence strategies often leave you feeling scattered and struggle to solve for two major problems:
- Siloed content
- Access to premium content
When market intelligence lives in separate, disparate sources there’s a strong chance important information will be missed or key connections across data points will never be made. Lack of correlation across sources results in static, less intelligent insights that don’t tell the whole story.
Further, without a centralized platform through which they can access insights, analysts inevitably encounter access barriers (like privacy restrictions or paywalls) to the most exclusive (and often the most insightful) sources such as broker research and company call transcripts.
The aforementioned X analytics capability outlined by Gartner as an important priority for the future is impossible without automated, AI-driven data curation and analytics across the many sources that contribute to market intelligence.
Beyond a lack of centralization for information, outdated market intelligence usually lacks access to critical content sets.
Challenge #2: Time Consuming
Enormous amounts of data are currently being created every day. Research by Statista shows that worldwide data volume has more than tripled over the past five years and is expected to nearly double between now and 2025.
This means it’s impossible for research professionals to feasibly read through every data source related to a given market intelligence project, and the sources they do access will take hours to read and dissect and that’s hours per source.
Documents like broker research reports and call transcripts are typically dozens of pages in length. Many sources contain data insights that require sophisticated analysis and perhaps more than one read-through before they’ve been thoroughly understood.
The result is one of two things all companies want to avoid: a hard limit on the amount of market intelligence research they’re able to perform, or ongoing increases in salary costs as staffing is scaled to meet research needs.
Challenge #3: Poor Search Experience
Public search engines are simply not enough to achieve real market intelligence. Their search results aren’t tailored to unique researcher settings and preferences. Rankings can be arbitrary. Most critical sources don’t show up on Google because they’re private company documents.
Sources found on public search engines also require manual sifting (and heavy reliance on CTRL +F) to find keywords or data points rather than those insights being extracted automatically. It’s an impractical method amidst the sheer amount of data researchers encounter, and it’s one that undoubtedly leads to missed insights and incomplete context.
Also, traditional search engines are not built to identify variations in business language or the exact language that is useful for conducting successful market intelligence.
Challenge #4: Reactive Research and Monitoring
Market intelligence isn’t a one-time initiative or even periodic effort. To be effective, it needs to be consistently conducted. This requires real-time monitoring and automated capabilities that inform researchers of news and updates as they occur. Alerts, watchlists, customized data dashboards — these features and more are the hallmarks of a market intelligence strategy built for 2022.
But it’s impossible to build a proactive strategy with traditional methods. Automation options exist, but when they’re coming from separate sources they can have the opposite effect and result in information overload. Without cohesive insights built on datasets as a whole, it’s hard to understand larger trends or draw conclusions about the future.
These disparate processes are also slower, meaning by the time you gather the insights you need and craft your strategy around them, you’re likely to already be a step behind your competitors.
Challenge #5: Separating the Signal from the Noise
In the world of data we live in today, your market intelligence strategy needs to be able to cut through the noise and find the insights that truly drive strategy and action. These insights are the cornerstone of a good market intelligence strategy and an essential piece of the puzzle for companies that want to succeed in competitive markets.
The tricky thing is: data as it exists today makes this a challenging task. Unstructured data accounts for a staggering 80-90% of existing data. Much of it is qualitative and comes in non-text formats like audio or video. Without an AI-driven and automated market intelligence platform to analyze unstructured data and extract key information, you’re missing out on the crucial insights available necessary to inform business decisions.
How a Market Intelligence Platform Levels Up Your Strategy
Market intelligence platforms have capabilities humans cannot accomplish on their own. AI augments the efforts of your research teams by offering cutting-edge technology that straight to the insights you need.
These key capabilities include:
AI-based search technology goes beyond keywords — it accurately ranks sources based on relevance and uses smart synonym technology to capture every valuable insight available (not just those that have an exact keyword match).
Natural Language Processing
Natural language processing (NLP) is a critical capability for analyzing qualitative data. It recognizes the sentiment behind source text, helping researchers understand where market players stand on a particular topic or trend.
AlphaSense’s sentiment model uses transformer-based language modeling architecture to produce state-of-the-art representations of language and context.
Access to Top Sources
Market intelligence platforms curate all of the market’s most important data sources and put them in one centrally-searchable place. On the AlphaSense platform, for example, you’ll find more than 10,000 premium data sources — many that are unavailable to the public and/or require payment to access.
Dashboards and Data Visualizations
Visual data is more compelling and digestible for a wider range of stakeholder audiences. As demonstrated by AlphaSense’s document trend graphs, data visualizations also tell insightful stories rather than simply providing raw data to be analyzed.
With market intelligence platforms, you have everything you need to craft crucial presentations, provide puntual updates, and help others in the organization to understand the ongoing landscape.
Customized Watchlists and Alerts
With the right platform solution in place, you can craft a market intelligence research strategy tailored completely to your organization and goals. Automated alerts, saved search, and customized watchlists ensure you never miss an important insight and always have access to the most current information related to the topics your company cares about.
Benefits of Market Intelligence
High-quality market intelligence gets its information straight from the source — the actual company or research institution that produced it. Direct access to exclusive data sources such as call transcripts or broker research means never being dependent on another’s interpretation of important topics, data points, or insights.
High-Level View of the Market
Market intelligence platforms not only provide access to data sources, they analyze overarching trends and demonstrate them in compelling ways through data visualization.
In the AlphaSense platform, for example, every search results page includes a document trends graph showing how frequently those terms have been mentioned on the platform over whatever timeframe you’re interested in. As you can see below, the document trend for “market intelligence,” shows more than 81,000 mentions over the past five years and a significant jump at the start of 2020. It indicates a clear correlation between the pandemic-induced uncertainty of early 2020 and increased discussion around market intelligence.
The ability to quickly gather this type of high-level insight to guide the direction of your research, put company-specific challenges into context, and understand larger market trends is key to operating an informed, agile organization.
Insight into the Future
Market intelligence not only gives you insight into what’s happening right now, but what’s next on the horizon for your industry or the markets at large. This capability is central to a company’s ability to operate proactive strategies that stay ahead of the competition.
When companies can anticipate what’s likely to happen in the future, they’re better able to capitalize on present opportunities, prepare for unavoidable challenges, and optimize timing for key strategic actions (such as a product launch, investment, or entry into a new market).
Data-Driven Decision Making
While market intelligence relies heavily on the intangible qualities of the human mind, simply leaning on intuition alone is no longer an option for organizations that want to succeed. While it will always play a role in decision making to some extent, intuition must be supported by sophisticated, objective data and insights.
Companies across industries are making this capability a priority. Gartner predicts that by 2026, the large majority (65%) of B2B organizations will have moved from intuition-based to data-based decision making, leveraging technology tools to help optimize decision workflows and analytics.
The same Gartner research shows market intelligence technologies as one of the most-adopted data-driven technologies by business leaders across industries, second only to CRM systems.
Market intelligence allows companies to view and analyze the inner workings of competitor organizations. Call transcripts provide direct access to important company events (quarterly meetings) and documents (annual reports) and allow you to evaluate competitor performance against their own.
Further, a close understanding of competitors gives companies the insight they need to create competitive advantages through superior product/service offerings and smarter strategies.
Exceptional Customer Experience
Market intelligence provides a deeper understanding of target customers that allows companies to meet them where they are. This means aligning with demand, responding to feedback, and being the first to deliver solutions for new challenges they experience. The result is a more agile and responsible customer experience that continuously evolves with customer needs.
Experienced customer service teams are also composed of product knowledge professionals who can answer granular questions and assist in the research process. For example, if you’re looking for a specific search, a product specialist can put together customized searches for you, so you can spend less aimless time on the platform and more time synthesizing your findings.
Market intelligence platforms power faster time to value and earned ROI on your efforts. The average high-volume corporate researcher using AlphaSense experiences 354% ROI in just their first year. For financial services researchers, that number jumps to 734% for the same period.
Related reading: How to Calculate the ROI of Market Intelligence
The takeaway? Market intelligence platforms are an investment in your business’s future performance and growth potential.