nicolas leroy

Building a competitive intelligence tool using RSS and WordPress

January 14, 2010

How many people in your company are reading blogs or articles that are related to your industry? Imagine if those people could easily share relevant articles with all other employees; and if those articles could easily be organized and classified… You could transform those individual initiatives into a powerful competitive intelligence tool.

More than one year ago, French blogger Fred Cavazza published an inspiring article explaining how RSS technology (using Google Reader and RSSBang tools) could be leveraged to build such a tool. I have used the concepts explained in this article, and added my own ideas to build such competitive intelligence platform at Kelkoo.

Here is a guide to build your own solution… This is not a step-by-step tutorial (which would require a lot of efforts to write) and you will need a good knowledge of the WordPress publishing platform to implement it… Still want to read? There it starts :)

Building a competitive intelligence tool

Find motivated people to build RSS feeds

That is the pre-requisite: you have to find motivated people that are eager to share with the others, and will accept to spend a little extra time to flag each article they find interesting.

To flag those articles, they can use any tool that is able to output RSS feeds. The most obvious ones are:

Using tagging, you can define one or many tags to structure the flagged content. For instance, for an e-commerce company, you can be interested to have articles talking about the competition, about the best practices in terms of SEO / user experience… You would then ask your fellow bookmarkers to tag their articles with “competition”, “seo”, “user-experience” in order to organize the tagged content.

It is important to have a limited number of tags, and broad tags – this should remain an easy process to find the right bucket when bookmarking an article…

Aggregate all those feeds

Number of people * number of tags = you could quickly reach an important number of RSS feeds, that have to be aggregated in one place. Fred Cavazza suggests to use RSS Bang or similar service (i.e: Yahoo Pipes) to merge all those RSS feeds into a single one, which is then followed by all the interested persons in the company.

While this solution is easy to implement, this is not convenient for everybody. Indeed, people have different habits – some are using RSS, some like emails, some prefers to go and browse a site from time to time… And if you want your competitive intelligence tool to be used, then it must adapt itself to its audience, not the contrary.

I have decided to use the WordPress publishing platform, enhanced with a few plug-ins. Once you have installed WordPress, the following plug-ins have to be installed to build the foundations of your new tool:

From there, you will need to choose a WordPress theme that supports “browse by category” or “browse by tag” features.

Going forward

Once the foundations are in place, you can enrich your WordPress installation with any plug-in you will judge useful to ease the adoption and usage of your competitive intelligence tool. As for myself, I have put in place a solution to auto-tag incoming articles, and a way to generate emails to push new articles to subscribers. Quick review of those plug-ins:


7 commentaires

[...] by Nicolas Leroy – who is apparently senior product manager at Kelkoo/Yahoo! – called ‘Building a competitive intelligence tool using RSS and Wordpress’ (you got to love people who use spot-on titles). I immediately fell in love with that idea, even [...]

Jeroen van Luik
on Feb 05, 2010 / 1pm
Very, very interesting post. I was writing about competitive intelligence for SME and I suggested your solution in my (fictional) case. I'm sure it will inspire more people to be creative, and it certainly is a very good solution at no cost! Thanks for sharing.

Cheers,
Jeroen

Mark Boudreau
on Oct 15, 2010 / 5am
What is the maximum number of feeds you can process utilizing FeedWordPress-based this solution?

nicolasleroy
on Oct 15, 2010 / 9am
@Mark - On my setup, I have dozens of feeds using FeedWordPress. However, I would recommend aggregating the max of feeds through Google Reader or Yahoo Pipes... The setup of feeds in FeedWordPress seems pretty weak for me.

Mark Boudreau
on Oct 15, 2010 / 2pm
Thank you. Good point. I have been experimenting with Yahoo Pipes but I am having issues with the RSS output validating in FeedWordpress but I am sure I am just doing something wrong.

On my site www.F1Prospects.com I am aggregating over 20 feeds but I agree that offloading some of the work to Yahoo Pipes before FeedWordPress has to work on it is a good idea. Never thought about using Google Reader though so I will have to look at that as well.

Thanks again.

watch the green hornet online
on Dec 30, 2010 / 12am
Hello,

Thanks for sharing this link - but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at www.nicolasleroy.fr have a mirror or another source?


Thanks,
Daniel

nicolasleroy
on Dec 30, 2010 / 9am
Hi Daniel,
Could you let me know what link is unactive ? It seems to me that all the links in this article still work.
Cheers
Nicolas