While going through my news screening dashboard last week, I stumbled on the recent findings by Mineria, which conducted a study on how Google search applications are being used by information users. A presentation of the methodology that was used and results can be found on Slideshare. (Please see: “Google Tools for Competitive Intelligence“)
In short, it was discovered that the five most important tools for competitive intelligence are:
- Google Search
- Google Alert
- Google News
- Google Reader
- Google Maps
On the other side of the coin, the five least important tools are:
- Google Squared
- Google News Timeline
- Google Public Data Explorer
- Google Real Time
- Google Moderator
Why has these tools been left out of the practitioner’s toolbox? There are probably various reasons such as: a) lack of awareness of the tool and b) the ability to find a practical use for the tool.
Here is a quick overview of the tools along with practical examples in which they could be used in a competitive intelligence context.
(Please Note: I invite you to click on the titles in the “Want To Know More?” section at the end of this post. You will find links to posts where I have already discussed the majority of these tools.)
Description: This application permits researchers to create blocks or “squares” of information on a particular topic as additional search terms are entered for the query. The output is a downloadable spreadsheet.
How to apply it in a CI context? Creating a Google Square is handy when you are unfamiliar with an industry sector. Plug in the name of the sector as a keyword along with the terms: “growth”, “trends”, “competitors” and “regulations” and get a detailed overview of the industry within seconds. Try it when you have to conduct your next industry profile!
Google Squared is available at www.google.com/squared
Google News Timeline
Description: As the name suggests, this tool gives researchers the ability to create a timeline of news events from articles that are retrieved from Google News. The timeline appears in the form of a dashboard where photos and abstracts of articles can be viewed.
How to apply it in a CI context? Tracking a competitor’s strategic moves through the press? Use Google News Timeline to have a more organized view of key events (i.e., a change in management to an acquisition of a small supplier). It will aid in identifying and anticipating other moves without searching and browsing through a number of webpages.
Google News Timeline is available at newstimeline.googlelabs.com
Google Public Data Explorer
Description: This tool allows individuals to view and graph large datasets. Datasets can be easily uploaded to help visualize trends from in-house data collection processes.
How to apply it in a CI context? Wish to compare your sales performance versus a list of key competitors? Import your information and create a graph to see where you stack up. Figure 1 is a line comparison graph for Honda, Ford and Chrysler sales in the automobile industry from 1986 to 2009.
Google Public Data Explorer is available at www.google.com/publicdata/home
Google Real Time
Description: Google Real Time search tool aims at providing researchers the power to find information available in real time from Twitter, Facebook, blogs and news sites.
How to apply it in a CI context? Your competitor has just launched their new application for smartphones. How has it been received by users? Is there a buzz on Twitter? What are influencers saying on blogs? Conduct a keyword search and find out!!!
Google Real Time is available at www.google.com/realtime
Description: Google Moderator is a crowdsourcing tool that allows individuals to vote on questions, suggestions and ideas. Results and comments can be viewed in real time.
How to apply it in a CI context? Google Moderator can be a handy tool for competitive intelligence professionals who are conducting online primary research. Figure 2 is a screenshot of a Google Moderator module that Google established for product ideas regarding Google Groups (yet another CI-related research tool).
Google Moderator is available at www.google.com/moderator
To competitive intelligence researchers, there is more to Google than Google Search, News and Reader. The search giant supplies an array of applications that can be used to collect information efficiently and effectively. Via Google Labs, researchers can experiment with new tools to see how they can best fit in their respective information collecting and analysing processes.
Want To Know More?
Read our past posts: