Competitive intelligence with webcams

The 123 Cam website is a free site that allows the user to view streaming, live webcam content for a variety of places, and which may have applications in competitive location. Users can monitor ports, highways, marketplaces, and similar sites. If a place has a public-access webcam, then it is likely listed on this site.

The Cam locations available are from all regions of the world. Though not exactly pleasing to the eye, the site is crowded with information and links that any user could surf and select with ease. For further options, one can choose by type of webcam rather than by region. Types of webcams include cities, airports, animals, universities, and even brands of webcams (such as Canon or Panasonic).

While perhaps not completely applicable to competitive intelligence, there are a few potential uses of this kind of webcam stream. Monitoring movement of trucks out of ports would be one way to see which competitors are the most active in moving products (such as whether they are there for imports or exports, and how much product they bring in and out during a week, etc.). Normally, these types of projects can be very expensive as they may rely on large periods of human surveillance. By organizing teams to research and collect this data, it could have good use for monitoring which seasons are busiest and slowest for competitors, and planning counter-strategies accordingly.

Smaller businesses can also use webcam streams for competitive intelligence. For example, the website shows a number of webcams covering cafes. Users can view peak times at these cafes, slow periods, and sales made – for later analysis and strategy planning.

1-2-3 Cam is a weak competitive intelligence tool, but there are a few useful applications for it – and is free. The drawbacks are superficial (such as a messy looking home page), and overall it deserves consideration.