There's no shortage of online tools out there to compare website updates, optimize landing pages, see what keywords, ad groups, and campaigns are best at driving customer actions, and monitor social-media activity.
The trouble is all the resulting data has to be analyzed. Even then, it's still hard to extract information that is sufficiently specific, validated, and well-presented to be of real use.
Kompyte, founded a couple of years ago in Barcelona by Pere Codina, Sergio Ramírez, and Albert Colmenero, says it wants to tackle that issue, with an algorithm to provide relevant insights in real time and an all-in-one dashboard to address one of the crucial elements of competitor analysis: timing.
Kompyte's platform enables businesses to track competitors' moves in real time and monitor the impact of rivals' new features, integrations, SEO, and content strategy across various online channels.
The company says its software tracks rivals' websites, adverts, social profiles, newsletters, and social-media mentions, issuing alerts whenever, say, prices change or a new campaign launches.
Of course, having a detailed tracking report of your competitors isn't a guarantee of your own success, because there are lots of factors in an individual's buying decisions that machines can't yet understand.
"[But] it's an unstoppable trend. Thanks to AI, machines can now uncover hidden connections enabling you to vary strategies," says the Balearic Islands government's Benjamí Villoslada, who describes himself as a bitologist working in digital immersion.
Yet, is it ethical? Kompyte CEO Pere Codina says the software is only tracking information that you could monitor manually.
"It might take you years to scan what Kompyte analyzes in a few milliseconds, but all the data we're processing is public. There's nothing unethical in understanding your competitors. In fact, it's a must for strategists," he says.
"You need to know where the competition is to make sure you're different."
Villoslada says if businesses do not want something to be known by their rivals, they shouldn't publish it.
"We may have to become more aware of this. Now we talk about privacy; in a few years, we'll be talking about discretion," he says.
Kompyte's algorithm seems to be attracting business. In two years, with a team of eight people, the company now has 70 clients, 15 of which are well-known Silicon Valley companies with over 500 employees. The Catalan startup also sells its competitive intelligence tool in Israel, the UK, and northern Europe.
"We thought our customers would come from ecommerce; online stores now have between 300 and 500 competitors and they have to be very attentive to what they do. But that has not happened. It was a surprise that we came to have quite big technology companies as clients. Indeed, we solve a problem for which there was no single solution until now," Kompyte's Codina says.
He studied computer engineering at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), before founding his first company in 2006.
"You can't start a project like this thinking you have to be bought," he says. He sees company's future as needing a foot in the US, where it's easier to raise money -- not because there is none in Spain, but because the Latin country is not yet interested in this market.
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However, Catalan policy makers see the value of Kompyte's proposition. For Núria Betriu, CEO of the Catalonia Trade & Investment public agency, Kompyte is an example of innovation "bringing fresh air to marketing strategies".
It showcases "the potential of innovative companies in Catalonia and Barcelona, which has become one the first ecosystems of entrepreneurship in Europe and the world", Betriu said.
In October 2015, Kompyte closed a financing round, raising €400,000 in international funds with Rose Tech Ventures, headquartered in New York, specifically to attack the US market.
Spanish investors such as Alantis Capital and IDODI Venture, involving well-known names of the Spanish internet and media scene, like Marc Vidal, Daniel Lacalle, Risto Mejide, Carlos Guerrero, and Carlos Blanco, also participated in the fund. Now the company is preparing for another round of financing to keep expanding.
"In general, the problem in Spain and Europe is execution. We're the kings of creativity, but to organize efficient companies, we have to learn what's done abroad. Having a good idea is not enough. Entrepreneurship is something more and I think it's crucial to foster training and systematization to encourage local entrepreneurs. After all, it's riskier to set up a corner shop than a startup," he says.