Every once in a while it happens: you read an article that triggers you in so many layers of your brain that your thoughts immediately begin to wander off uncontrollably. It happens to me anyway, for example with this article I read about social business design. The article The connected company by Dave Gray starts off with companies and their struggle for existence, their growing pains and design failures causing all that. According to the author, the answer to that is social business design. Be that as it may – and it surely is an interesting and inspiring approach and you should definitely read the article – that’s not the part that triggered me most. What did trigger me more was the comparison between companies and cities.
Seena Sharp truly is a thought leader on Competitive Intelligence (CI) and definitely one of the best authors of this moment on the profession. She proves this with her book, Competitive Intelligence Advantage, in which she continuously stresses the importance of actionable knowledge regarding a company’s competitive landscape. She emphasizes the scope of CI and clearly explains the difference between CI and for instance market research, marketing intelligence and other related professions. By doing this she contributes to branding CI with great authority. In fact, one might even say Sharp is too keen on underlining the true nature of the profession by constantly emphasizing what Competitive Intelligence is – and is not. It is almost as if she is convinced the reader is in total disagreement. Be that as it may, the bottom line is that in the end she makes sure you agree with her.
Graphs are strong instruments in which trends can be easily shown and recognized. Many different kinds of graphs make sure that there is a graph for every purpose. With this is mind, it won’t surprise you when I tell you that graphs are also being used in Competitive Intelligence (CI) tools. But, the use of these graphs differs from for instance Business Intelligence (BI) purposes. What is the difference and what are the challenges when using graphs in CI?
If you are in any way participant in intelligence projects from an end user or consultant perspective (BI, CI, MI or whatever I) you will most likely also participate in the process of information analysis. Previously, we have defined this as the process of gathering both information needs and functional (and non-functional) requirements. I’ve seen many many posts about interview techniques and presentation techniques and the more I read about it, the more I come to the conclusion that those are merely tools, and not even the most important ones. No, information analysis is Art. And it was not his brush that made Rembrandt one of the biggest painters of his time.
In our blogs, Jeroen and I talked about ethical intelligence gathering. We’ve discussed this topic from the organization point of view. I recently came across a news item which made me think about another point of view: the perspective of the one(s) the intelligence is gathered about.
Companies investing in marketing undoubtedly have plenty reasons to launch the marketing campaigns that they do. But most of the time it’s hard to predict (let alone calculate) what the campaign will bring the company, and if it will pay itself back. And even afterwards it is not always easy to measure, or determine otherwise, whether or not the campaign had the desired effect. In this post I’d like to discuss how CI can contribute to determining how effective your marketing efforts really are.
Competitive Intelligence still seems to have a branding problem. A lot of people still don’t know what exactly CI is; sometimes they just had nothing to do with it until now, but most of the times they don’t even realize that they are already doing it, or parts of it. We’ve spoken about the definition in several posts already, so I will not go there again. Instead, I’d like to discuss some (somewhat) related professions or activities where (parts of) Competitive Intelligence can be applied, the first of which is reputation management.
In her previous post, Anne discussed the role of CI analysts. In this follow-up post I’d like to discuss their raison d’être. Is the human brain replaceable in the competitive intelligence process? Can it be fully automated at some point in time, using processor power instead of brain power?
In our previous blogs, we have been constantly saying that analyzing will remain human work and that the CI analyst is of vital importance. But what does the typical CI analyst do? What makes him or her valuable? What is that piece of human work we don’t want to (or can) automate in CI tools? I will discuss these questions in this weblog.
Recently I visited a BI-seminar where I exhibited on Competitive Intelligence basics. Afterwards I spoke to several people who wanted to discuss whether or not Competitive Intelligence would do them any good. Especially government or semi-government employees struggled with the necessity of CI in their particular situation. “We don’t have competitors” was one of the most heard phrases. Most likely that isn’t even true, but even if it is, I’d like to quote Seena Sharp here from her excellent book “Competitive Intelligence Advantage” where she explains the difference between competitor and competitive intelligence: