Blog Post

Competitive Intelligence Can Drive Service Bureau Success

“In an economy where the only certainty is uncertainty, the one sure source of lasting competitive advantage is knowledge.” So says Ikujiro Nonaka, the Japanese organizational theorist and Professor Emeritus at the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy of the Hitotsubashi University.

Arguably, the most important bit of knowledge that your payroll or human resources service bureau can use is knowledge of what your competitors are doing. It’s called “competitive intelligence” and it can prove crucial to your firm’s long-term success – particularly as the global payroll and HR services market value soars to $41.6 billion by 2026, experts predict. Consider these statistics from Boca Raton’s Academy of Competitive Intelligence (ACI) and the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP):

  • 90% of Fortune 500 companies consistently practice competitive intelligence.
  • 70% of large enterprises say they believe that having competitive intelligence would have significantly increased the effectiveness of their past marketing campaigns.
  • 73% of businesses are investing more than 20% of their overall technology budgets in intelligence and data analytics.
  • 69% of organizations that have used an external competitive intelligence partner report positive results from that decision.
  • 70% of corporate executives consider predictive intelligence the most critical data insight, followed closely by trend insights.


Despite these stats, few businesses, only 12%, regularly analyze  their competitive intelligence data. In the fast growing and increasingly competitive payroll and HR services field, this can put you at risk of falling behind your competitors. To temper that risk and prime your business for long-term success, Apex HCM offers these three top tips for collecting intelligence on your industry rivals:

  1. Watch competitors’ job postings: One of the easiest, yet surprisingly effective ways to keep tabs on your competitors is to watch their job postings. This will tell you immediately where they’re currently lacking in capability coverage, perhaps revealing an Achilles’ heel. A high number of job postings in particular departments may suggest a rash of recent turnovers or prove an early signal of a new or changing business strategy.
  2. Monitor competitors’ websites: Services like Visionista, VisualPing and OnWebPage offer constant monitoring of websites, key web pages and cloud-based web changes to HTML, PDFs, text and dynamic content, which can provide a wealth of clues. Web monitors are used by dozens of Fortune 500 brands, as well as major media outlets and political organizations and campaigns.
  3. Bring it in-house: Consider hiring an experienced competitive intelligence professional or providing CI certification education to one or more of your existing staff via organizations like ACI, SCIP or the Institute for Competitive Intelligence. Start by assigning the task of monitoring competitive activities to someone on your staff.


Competitive intelligence will be among the multiple subjects covered at the upcoming APEX Users Conference, Align 2018, September 20-21 in Atlanta. Touting a theme of “Innovate, Operate, Celebrate!”, this year’s event offers nearly two dozen unique sessions on various key issues including sales positioning and prospecting, compliance, cybersecurity and effectively dealing with difficult customers. Call 877-750-2739 for information or register online.