Competitive Intelligence (CI) represents an enterprise practice that executes a coordinated and continuous ethical and legal program for the collection, selection, storage, examination and spread of information about the current business ecosystem. The objective of competitive intelligence is to acquire advantages over competitors and to answer questions of a strategic character. Also known as Business Intelligence, Technology Monitoring and Competitive examination, Competitor Intelligence is distinguished from industrial espionage.
Competitive Intelligence can have a tremendous impact to an organization’s overall corporate strategy, effectiveness of business units and policies and procedures followed by functional areas. From the strategic perspective, some activities contemplated by CI are:
– To analyze the present and possible competitors with respect to their strategies and objectives and to study possible competitive responses.
– To probe and to define the opportunities and threats of the industry or business sector.
– To keep watch and to be on alert to important changes with meaningful customers, technologies (Technological Monitoring), legislation and other areas including related markets. Use a site like ChangeDetect for both free and paid CI tools.
Competitive Intelligence also contemplates all those activities of tactical character which contribute to the creation of the new prices and product promotions, credit risk from customers, reverse engineering attempts, third party benchmarking activities and important trade shows etc. The use of Competitor Intelligence tools and techniques is not limited to only large companies. Small companies can also very easily leverage CI strategies quite easily and creatively. The benefits associated with implementing Competitive Intelligence is classified into two groups:
1. Mitigate the risk of project failure as in the development of a new product, possible acquisition or alliance or an expansion into a new market or geographical territory
2. As a response to the improved competitive position of a competitors or group of competitors.
A CI program can offer additional benefits like the protection of intellectual character. Effective management of competitive intelligence programs in mid to large extent companies can be structured in different ways (i.e. centralized or decentralized, globally or narrowly, or formally or informally). It all depends on corporate culture and what is currently happening in the industry.
To realize the most benefits from their CI programs, the best organizations are learning organizations that leverage the meaningful findings from competitive intelligence and respond quickly to any threats or opportunities presented. However to get to this point, emerging Competitive Intelligence learning organization can start in a more focused approach. At first perhaps using freely online tools to keep track of the competition and other easy to implement programs. truly going out and interacting with meaningful players in the market or industry and/or operating as a leader tend to naturally allow the best organizations to gain the benefits competitive intelligence. That is the proverbial “being in the right place at the right time” strategy.
Sometimes the results of Competitor Intelligence programs from different avenues such as commercial, technological, economic or financial can be fed into the organization in a distributed or fragmented manner. In this case, it requires a Competitive Intelligence program officer or team to put it all together for making overall or “big picture” assessments and/or recommendations.
at any rate is learned from CI programs should be pushed out to all areas of the organization and made freely obtainable. After all, true Competitive Intelligence is both ethical and legal so there should be no problem in disseminating the information internally to be used for the assistance of a stronger competitive position.