Competitive intelligence tool review: Influence Explorer

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Influence Explorer is a website that helps analysts understand how much influence a company might be exerting on the US government. No specific score for influence is given, but the website aggregates data about competitors, including:

  • Political contributions made.
  • Lobbying spend and lobbyists used.
  • Lobbying and legislation topics with which the company is involved.
  • Federal spending on the company's products.

All of this information is available elsewhere online, but it is useful to have it together in one place.

Thus we find out, for example, that:

  • Google spends 30x as much as Facebook on political contributions.
  • Apple has shown particular interest in the Patent Reform Act and the Broadband Access Equality Act.
  • The biggest recipient of Goldman Sachs contributions is Meg Whitman.
  • Exxon has shown particular interest in the Clean Energy Leadership Act.

... and so on. Below, for example, is data about Delta Airlines's use of lobbyists:

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Again, this information is findable elsewhere (and Influence Explorer states its sources clearly), but as a typical competitive analysis study involves checking hundreds of sources, aggregation of this type is always welcome.

Influence Explorer could benefit from some improvements: small ones such as comparing two competitors side by side, and major ones such as tracing which of a company's employees have gone on to work for government (for example, Influence Explorer does not account for key Google employees now working in federal government). But even in its current state, it is a useful competitive intelligence tool.

Influence Explorer scores

Usefulness: 6/10

Ease of use: 5/10

Comprehensiveness: 5/10

Overall score: 5/10

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