This blog is specifically written by Brian Lindholm, Managing Principal and Founder of FedSavvy Strategies. He is a nerd.
Competitive Intelligence (CI) is my passion. In this blog, I am going to provide a non-boring and very practical definition of CI. Better yet, this blog will also share with you some steps to go from “zero to hero” in CI. This is a core part of my professional history and it has been the center of my professional existence for 14 years.
Competitive Intelligence (CI) is not a database subscription. It is NOT glorified “Googling.” It is not “hey, you’re young and you can use the Internet….go get’em!”
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
If this is how you or your business approach CI, you’re going to be very unsuccessful.
CI is a business process. The outcomes of CI inform business decisions. If CI is done well, it informs decision-makers to make decisions in the best interest of the business to minimize risk and maximize growth opportunities. Would you cut corners on core business processes? I hope not.
CI is also tradecraft. Tradecraft? What? Am I so bold as to liken CI to other intelligence disciplines such as Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Human Intelligence, (HUMINT), etc.?
Yes, I am. Effective CI processes use the same fundamentals of the intelligence analysis process. Note Figure 1 below to illustrate the concept.
The process in Figure 1 illustrated by Professor Wheaton is a wonderful means to understand that the intelligence process is NOT linear. Earlier in my career I knew that there was no true start and stop to the intelligence process, but the adaptation in Figure 1 enabled by Professor Wheaton’s vision is a far more elegant illustration than I could have ever expressed.
This fundamental approach to conducting CI will enable you to do CI better than just Googling and chatting.
How do you do this?
Take the four (4) fundamental aspects of the intelligence analysis process into how you approach competitive intelligence (CI).
- Modeling – This phase defines the requirements based on decisions needed to make.
- Collection – This involves gathering raw data to enable the intelligence process.
- Analysis – This is the integration, evaluation and synthesis of all relevant data.
- Production – This is the creation of the actionable intelligence product to support decision making.
Any moderately mature CI individual or team is likely executing against this process already. Even a novice individual or organization can begin to implement these fundamentals of intelligence. This is not necessarily a 100+ page process, but principles that may be easily codified into a single analyst. Create your approach based on these four fundamental aspects of the intelligence process.
Implementing a process such as this may look to be over-engineered or too expensive. It is not that difficult to start with the basics. If you want to learn more about examples of each phase of the intelligence process and blogs we already wrote on topics, check out the blog articles below.
- Modeling methods such as use of mindmaps
- Collection practices such as through guidelines in assessing competitor capabilities
- Analysis techniques such as using Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH) or Porter’s Five Forces (in GOVCON)
- Production guidelines through simplifying your market intelligence picture to enable decisions
Do you want to learn more?
We have an online course teaching you fundamentals of Competitive Intelligence. This is NOT an exercise in “how to use database X, Y, Z, etc.” Instead, we focus on techniques to help you become more efficient and effective in executing competitive intelligence tasks. Check out the course here and the FREE introductory chapter here.
Focus on the tradecraft. Get better results.
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