Impact of Internet-enabled Tools on Market Intelligence

July 12, 2013. According to a poll by M-Brain (formerly GIA), 95% of market intelligence professionals say that the Internet has impacted how intelligence is conducted; with 63% saying the impact has been significant. Indeed, online data collection for both secondary and primary research has changed as Internet penetration has grown. There were over 2.3 billion Internet users on our planet in mid 2012, with growth over the last decade registered at over 500%. The growth rate is only expected to increase during this decade.

For market intelligence in particular, online crowd sourcing, user-groups and forums can generate valuable additional insights at little cost. Collecting opinions, statements and sentiments from large numbers of people has been a major step forward for market intelligence, providing different and often more holistic views on buying behavior, appreciation of products or visibility of companies. It is also much easier to distribute relevant information to interest and user groups online, in formats that can be directly loaded into tools to do analysis. Examples include data in excel files or more sophisticated formats for analysis and comparison.

Impact of the Internet on Market Intelligence Till 2016


We speak with three experts for their opinions from their own vantage points.

Daniel Canter
Daniel Canter is the Senior Manager of Knowledge Management at Philips, who is responsible for improving sharing, collaboration and applying continual learning at Philips, including the running and development of content and data management knowledge systems.

Ville Vanhala
Ville Vanhala is the Senior Vice President of Research & Monitoring Services at M-Brain (formerly GIA), who oversees the delivery and development of services like daily market tracking, competitor profiling, peer group analysis, industry and macroeconomic reviews, and social media monitoring.

Joost Drieman

Joost Drieman is the Vice President for Intelligence Best Practices at M-Brain (formerly GIA) who is tasked with providing consultancy services, assessments, as well as thought leadership in market intelligence. He has 30 years of international experience in strategy, business development, market intelligence and management.

How has the Internet most affected market intelligence?

Ville: Today, there are numerous web news aggregators that collect news from over 100 countries and more than 100,000 media sources globally. Traditional fee based news aggregators like Dialog, Factiva, LexisNexis, and many others that have contracts with news publications to deliver full text news to clients, have all been looking at how to differentiate from the new lower cost web news aggregators and retain a position as key information providers for market intelligence teams. In different ways, many of these established players have come up with new innovations that make the offerings of these vendors still interesting.

We are also seeing a blurred line between professional business information sources and freely available information on the Internet. Many fee-based aggregators that offer premium content also connect to material that is freely available on the Internet. From the user point of view, it will become increasingly important that one can navigate easily between proprietary material of business information publishers and freely available information elsewhere on the web.

Social media is becoming a major source of information to search. Suddenly information providers are talking of “enabling searches in millions of social media sources”, in addition to the tens or hundreds of thousands of media publications they used to track. For example, tools to monitor Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are becoming integrated in an increasing number of business information aggregator’s products. A key question for the future is, will these enormous pools of social media information remain searchable via business information products without significant costs for users. For example, will Twitter or Facebook charge information aggregators more in the future to allow integration and aggregators will need embed the rising cost to their subscription fees.

Daniel: With the Internet, desk research has become much easier. Desktop databases and applications are mostly online now. Databases are all delivered via the web so there is no longer a need for dummy terminals and direct access to suppliers’ networks. So the web is the starting point for all research nowadays at Philips, via searches or vendor systems. Location is no longer important, only web access is!

Joost: The Internet has also played a role in the establishment of international intelligence communities that facilitate knowledge and opinion sharing, learning as well as the exchange of fresh ideas. Global networks of professionals are increasingly easy to harness over the Internet for cooperation on a topic. It is easier to find experts, recruit them to work on a project and communicate across continents.

The Internet has made personal branding and individual profiling possible on a wider scale, as experts raise their visibility and promote their skills and capabilities by publishing and actively sharing thoughts and opinions. The trend of personal branding is becoming more important in general for market intelligence professionals.

What do you consider to be the most exciting possibilities provided by the Internet for intelligence?

Ville: Video sharing services and video sharing behavior will be one of the next big things in business information. Huge growth will be seen in how people, companies and different organizations share information through videos. Market intelligence professionals will find interesting insights in videos – and videos will also be used to disseminate intelligence. For example, your company employees may record and share videos of someone using competitor products and this can be a valuable element in competitor analysis.

Visualization and automated analytics are becoming more and more important to identify changes, patterns, themes and structures in large amounts of information. Especially as the volume of data through social media sources is overwhelming, it is necessary to use technology to sift through and detect meaningful information to process it further. Still, the human brain will remain a critical part of the picture. For example, when looking at analysis of conversations in social media, the output of automated analytics is only a starting point for the human analyst to work further and bring out the really interesting findings from the data.

Joost: Machines, personal devices and even household appliances will be connected online. This allows us to collect much more data that can be used for market intelligence. But it does not stop there! The “Internet of Things” is the stepping stone for ambient intelligence ““ enabling smart and connected environments that are sensitive and responsive to the presence of people. Devices will work in concert to support people in carrying out their daily lives while collecting information and intelligence through the network connecting these devices. This will have a direct impact on profiling and enable us to conduct market intelligence on a deeper level.

Social media will make it possible to collect data like picture, motion, gestures, which is important for customer intelligence.

Daniel: I see three developments. Firstly, “social media listening” will start to replace some of the more traditional research methods and standard ways to monitor macro indicators and trends. It will provide a more “˜real time’ and unbiased set of information in terms of interviewer and questionnaire design.

Secondly, everyone can find the information they think they are looking for, but quality and accuracy will become major issues, as non-experienced researchers are not trained in the same way to challenge data and check validity or accuracy. Issues around sources, samples and inferring meaning will become greater for market intelligence experts, as they try to educate and help the non-experts understand these issues.

Lastly, improved and faster communication and access to intelligence should lead to faster decisions and more flexible organizations. That’s a boon for any company!

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