The construction software industry has been slow to innovate, but in recent years, it’s been changing rapidly and new firms have been growing quickly. Construction software developer HCSS, founded in 1986, has seen significant changes in the last few years. While the company has grown to more than 4,500 customers and 13 products, they have watched the number of competitors grow from two to over a dozen.
That means the company doesn’t dream of trying to make strategic decisions without keeping a close eye on the market and their competitors.
“It’s crazy to run a business without keeping up with what your competitors are doing,” says Dan Briscoe, VP Marketing at HCSS. “You’d be surprised by how often you gain insight you’ve never dreamed of.”
Easier said than done.
Briscoe’s team tried a handful of competitive intelligence (CI) products. But HCSS struggled to see results. They ended up reacting more to competitors than proactively winning. Simply monitoring competitors in the news meant they were late to catch competitive shifts and, on top of that, they weren’t looking at the broader, rapidly changing market.
That’s when they turned to artificial intelligence.
Part of the challenge Briscoe and his team ran into was the sheer difficulty of tracking so much competitive data. Companies today have massive online digital footprints. At any given time, there is so much going on across websites, social media, and digital channels. Yet there is so much meaning hidden in this data.
Website changes, updates to team pages, new content published, new social media messages—these and thousands of other data sources can tell you exactly what a company is up to online.
Companies like HCSS can’t afford to ignore the massive amounts of market intelligence data available today that drives actionable insights, opportunities, and business strategy.
But Briscoe needed some help to do that.
“There’s an incredible amount of intel available online, and there’s no better economical way than to have a machine do it for you.”
Leveraging Competitive Intelligence
HCSS turned to Crayon, an AI-powered competitive intel tool. The company uses artificial intelligence to help businesses track, analyze, and act on everything happening outside their four walls.
Crayon uses AI to find and display the most meaningful insights and trends in competitor and market activities, which allows HCSS to monitor a competitor’s complete digital footprint by catching any meaningful update on or off their website.
They track more than 100 data types automatically, and catch everything from product and pricing changes to customer and employee reviews to content and campaigns launched.
So far, the HCSS team has watched Crayon transform their competitive intelligence work. In one week alone, Briscoe and team:
- Saw their own social media manager had changed their publishing strategy, and was able to meet and discuss a new approach for the coming year.
- Noticed more customer reviews were coming through a site they had de-invested in. Upon investigating, he found the site had rolled out a critical update and met with the team to re-evaluate their review site strategy.
- Found a competitor released a new product video on YouTube, so he sent it to the sales, executive, and product management groups with an overview of the new features. The video also included competitive positioning, so he formulated a strategy for those teams to use.
- Uncovered several competitors’ internal intel through employee online reviews, which he summarized and shared with the executive team.
- Saw a competitor improved a customer service program, so he alerted their own service and executive teams to encourage more development in that area to better compete.
- Analyzed trends in competitors’ content initiatives to adjust their content strategy.
Today, Briscoe keeps up with his entire market—including competitors, customers, and his own company—in just 30 minutes a day.
He checks the intel in Crayon daily and alerts his team when there’s something to act on. Keeping a pulse on competitors also allows him to answer questions with confidence in executive meetings. He feels he’s always in-the-know, able to make decisions based on real market data.
“Crayon is incredibly easy to use and setup: you provide a company URL and the rest is taken care of. It doesn’t get easier than that.”
The ROI of having your pulse on the market is massive, and—thanks to AI—it’s never been easier.
As Chief Content Officer, Mike Kaput uses content marketing, marketing strategy, and marketing technology to grow and scale traffic, leads, and revenue for Marketing AI Institute. Mike is the co-author of Marketing Artificial Intelligence: AI, Marketing and the Future of Business (Matt Holt Books, 2022). See Mike's full bio.