Ben- you differentiate competitive intelligence and competitive analysis as — the intelligence is…
Joseph Aamidor

Hi Joseph — thanks for your response.

I consider competitive intelligence as the collection of relevant data about competitors (who’s growing, how the market perceives them, what features their customers love/hate, etc.). I think of competitive analysis as how that affects your own decision-making. For example, if a competitor’s product has a feature yours doesn’t, does it matter? Do customers notice or care? Does it affect the buying decision or brand?

There’s a huge distinction between an internal- and external-facing roadmap. An internal roadmap (at least one) should almost always exist: it provides alignment against a commonly understood product-centric plan. Sometimes, the business is better off with multiple versions (lenses into) the product roadmap: one for sales that is very simple and says you should start selling X by Y date, and perhaps another for engineering that dives into critical infrastructure investments that would only confuse the sales process. However, an external-facing roadmap should only exist as a necessity and if you can avoid having one, then avoid it. An example of a situation in which it’s worthwhile would be a SaaS company trying to lock in a multi-year contract with a prospective customer who needs confidence that their software investment won’t become obsolete, or where there’s a rolling launch plan that only includes a limited number of features initially, but more features later, which the customer is willing to wait for for a fixed period of time but not indefinitely. At Opower, 8-figure contracts hung in the balance depending on whether we could agree that something that would not be ready at launch time would be ready a year out.

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