CI and KM

Jack Vinson asks: “Can anyone point me (and my friend) to some better resources around doing ‘competitive intelligence’ by asking people within the company to work together to develop the intel?  I’ve pointed him to the Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals.”

I was introduced to CI by Conor Vibert about 10 years ago and I discussed on this blog how I did some small scale intelligence collection, collation and dissemination, five years ago. In Conor’s competitive intelligence class at Acadia University, he has students giving presentations on a business, while others are going online to question their claims, and other students are using chat to discuss the points without interrupting the speakers. It’s exciting to watch Conor’s classes in action. Last year, I suggested to a client, a small technology company, how they could set up a CI process. [The company is no longer in business, so I don’t consider this confidential information any more]

Conor wrote a book on CI — A framework for web-based analysis and decision making.


Developing an internal Competitive Intelligence process:

1. Start by asking questions internally and seeing what kind of answers you get. Use your existing social media tools to do this. A blog or a wiki would work.

2. As a distributed team, each person can be responsible for a specific information source that is monitored regularly.

3. Ask a weekly question and see who can get some information that may be able to answer part or all of it.

4. In the feedback to these questions people may ask you to re-frame the questions. Continue to learn and refine this process for your unique context. Better questions will make for better CI.

5. You may not need to hire anyone else to collate the data, but if you do, keep your team (who have industry knowledge) involved.

6. Don’t just hand CI over to a junior staff member. CI should be part of the conversational flow in the company. Marketing, sales, developers and management should be actively involved.

7. The process of asking questions, seeing if there are answers and in turn asking questions about the questions can hone the team’s ability to gather competitive intelligence.

8. If you decide to purchase access to information sources, such as Hoover’s, only buy one at a time. Use that source as much as you can (squeeze it dry) and until you realize you should eliminate it or augment it with another purchased source.

One Response to “CI and KM”

  1. dianne

    Understanding patents and patent applications are a big part of CI gathering; so it’s a good idea to make it easy for company members to interact with their in-house and outside counsel who are usually interested in training and really should be in the loop. Reading patents and understanding which parts to focus on can be a rich topic for discussion but people should be aware of the sensitivities/confidentiality issues around that and the important issues of attorney-client privilege.


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