Competitive intelligence is not only about knowing how to find the information you are looking for. It is also about
- Asking questions that are relevant to your business. The decision makers who will use the CI need to be involved in deciding what questions need to be answered in order for the company to meet its business objectives.
- Ensuring that intelligence is actionable. Give answers that will help the users of CI act on it. For example, if you are evaluating market potential for a product, the sales and marketing function would like to know what distribution channels to use, how many sales people to deploy, in which locations, how much can they expect to sell, and so on.
- Making the intelligence effective by acting on it. The CI should make a difference to the actions of the decision maker. For this, he needs to be convinced that the findings from CI are credible, reliable and actionable.
- Improving efficiency of the activity by utilizing all internal sources of intelligence. Within the company, there are many people that interact with the external world and have knowledge of parts of it. The sales people are the richest source of competitive information. But even others like HR, Finance and operations have information and insights on different aspects of the environment. This can be leveraged by the CI team. For this, all employees need to be aware of the usefulness of the knowledge they have, and be incentivized to share it with the rest of the organization.
- Include all aspects (functions) of the business in the purview of competitive intelligence. All aspects of business need to be competitive, so all functions need competitive intelligence.
So developing the skill sets of the CI team for delivering competitive intelligence is important. But it is equally important to get the entire organization “ready” for competitive intelligence. Some of the things this entails are:
- Building awareness about CI across the organization
- Including CI related activities in the KRAs of employees
- Creating a process for CI in the company
- Seeking CI inputs to support decision making & relating the strategies to fact based CI inputs in all the key functions
- Increasing the level of communication and collaboration between different functions in the organization.
For all this to happen the top management has to buy into the value of competitive intelligence. For only they can make the organization wide changes that will help them gain and maintain a competitive advantage.