What is secondary competitive intelligence?

All of our competitive intelligence research starts off with secondary research. Much of that is through Google and some of it is directly through other sources, such as LinkedIn. "But anyone can do that!" is something that, strangely, clients never tell us.

Yes, anyone can do many things, but some things are best left to the professionals: that is why monkeys make a living picking tea and virgins make the best cigars.

1. SEC filings

SEC filings can be treasure troves when read in detail, for example:

  • Ashland has been our largest single supplier of composites since April 1, 2011. Ashland accounted for 48.7% by value of the composites we distributed for the year ended September 30, 2012. Other key suppliers include Owens Corning and Reichhold. For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2012, our ten principal suppliers accounted for approximately 85.6% by value of the composites we distributed.
  • As of September 30, 2012, our customers included nine of the Fortune 20 and 108 of the Fortune 1000 or private or foreign enterprises of equivalent size. These 108 customers provided 79% of our annualized rent as of September 30, 2012. Additionally, as of September 30, 2012, our top 10 customers (including CBI) provided 46% of our annualized rent.

2. Other regulatory filings

Regulatory filings from other US agencies, as well as internationally, can be revealing, as with this example of a private company's accounts in the UK:

3. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the most useful secondary sources after Google, with many profiles having a good level of detail: 

Managed 11 direct reports; designed and developed WEB applications, implementing the end-to-end system solutions.

Managed 5 major software releases; the overall program budget was within 7% of contracted estimate.

Managed the budget, WBS, Change Requests; total program was 2.8 million dollars

Procured HP-UX and Windows servers, for test, SIT, UAT Pre-Production and production and managed installation. Total cost was $475k for the hardware/ software and professional services.

4. Glassdoor

Glassdoor is a good starting point for finding what a competitor pays their employees.

5. Government websites

Government websites publish what they pay for some of their contracts:

These are just five examples. There are hundreds of competitive intelligence sources. The examples here just show what a fruitful source of information secondary research can be.