Benchmark Your CI Investment: Differences Between Small Businesses and Enterprises

Cover 2020 State of CI Report

Sophisticated competitive intelligence (CI) programs are not built overnight. They require investment – in the form of people, budget, and time – that likely isn’t available on day one. Effective CI programs are often built out in phases – establishing the foundation first, including priorities, stakeholders, and process, and then scaling and optimizing from there. One way to determine if you’re investing enough into competitive intelligence is to look at your peers at a similar scale. That’s why we dug into the results from the 2020 State of Competitive Intelligence Report and the differences in CI investment for every size company, from small business to large enterprise.


Large Enterprises Have CI Teams, Small Businesses Tackle CI Piecemeal

Nearly all large enterprises, and most small enterprises, have CI teams of two or more dedicated CI professionals. 38% of large enterprises have large CI teams of 11 or more. In other words, as the overall employee base grows, so does the CI team.

Get the latest data – download the 2020 State of Competitive Intelligence Report 

state of competitive intelligence crayon

All Are Increasing or Maintaining CI Headcount

96% of all businesses are maintaining or increasing their CI headcount, and this trend is consistent across all company sizes.

state of competitive intelligence crayon


Larger Teams Have Larger Budgets

Not surprisingly, larger companies are also more likely to have larger CI budgets. Nearly 60% of large enterprises have CI budgets north of $100,000, while less than half of small businesses have budgets nearing the $25,000 mark.

state of competitive intelligence crayon

All Are Increasing or Maintaining CI Budget

96% of all businesses are maintaining or increasing their CI budget, and this trend is consistent across all company sizes.

state of competitive intelligence crayon


Marketing and Strategy/Research Teams Dominate Across All Companies

Marketing and dedicated CI departments are most likely to lead CI, with a minority of CI teams reporting up into Sales or Product Management. The department primarily responsible for CI can significantly influence the focus and direction for the CI team.

Small businesses and large enterprises surprisingly show similar trends – almost an equal percentage of CI teams reporting into Marketing, Strategy/Research, or Sales. However, this may be for different reasons — at a small business, CI may be picked up by whichever team feels the most impact of competitive pressures, and the company may even choose to have a lone wolf CI professional. While at large enterprises, CI may be aligned with the department of the important stakeholder, or have a centralized CI team to serve all audiences.

state of competitive intelligence crayon

Executives Are the Primary CI Stakeholder, But Sales Matters Just as Much for Many

Across the board, executive leadership is prioritized as a key stakeholder with whom to share competitive intelligence. But in medium businesses and small enterprises, the sales team is just as important. In fact, small enterprises seem to focus equally on all audiences, while large enterprises focus even more on that executive audience. Large enterprises are also more likely to have other stakeholders outside of these core teams, which makes sense given the diversity of functions at that size organizations.

state of competitive intelligence crayon

Using Benchmarks & Other Strategies to Get CI Buy-In

Given these benchmarks, are you ahead of the curve or behind? Not only is it helpful to look at companies of a similar scale to determine CI investment, but it is also worth considering where your competitors land. If you’re a small business competing against a variety of large enterprises, you may want to invest ahead of your current size.

But getting the company’s buy-in to invest in competitive intelligence is often not the easiest task. How can you go about convincing others to invest resources into CI? Here are a few places to start:

  1. Leverage industry benchmarks to show how much other similarly sized companies are investing (using the data in this article!)
  2. Quantify the impact of not making these investments today – perhaps the revenue lost to competitors or time wasted by duplicated CI research efforts across the company
  3. Establish KPIs for a potentially expanded CI program to show the potential return (for example, many Crayon customers see competitive win rates improve 50% or more)
  4. Build a business case that articulates the problem and proposed solution, incorporating many of the above points

Through this combination of industry benchmarks and clear goals and plans, you should be armed with the tools you need to get the CI investment your company demands.

Source: Ellie Mirman on Wed, Crayon, Feb 26, 2020

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