Competitive Intelligence

Tactical, Operational & Strategic Analysis of Markets, Competitors & Industries

2011 ICI / Atelis CI Conference in Bad Nauheim, Germany - a summary report.

This was a fantastic conference - and very valuable with tons of learning over the two days. There were some very useful and interesting discussions and the conference was a mix of expert panels, academic presentations and practitioner case examples, etc. Perhaps the ideal mix. 

One high-point was the second day keynote from Arik Johnson which can be seen at although the slides don't do justice to Arik's talk. 

The low-point was the first day keynote on the important topic of IP in CI, - where unfortunately the key note speaker couldn't make it, but was ably replaced by Prof Dr Martin Grothe on collaborative tools for CI.

Fortunately, IP was covered later by Carsten Deus who looked at patents. This was a very interesting and useful talk. I know a fair bit about what can be learned from patents (having spent a year working with Derwent years ago) but Dr Deus showed me much more - for example, using patents to predict the likelihood of key R&D staff moving jobs following a merger or acquisition. 

I had a conflict of interest in whether to go to what looked like a fascinating talk by Steven Turbes on measuring performance in CI or go back to my roots in financial analysis and learn about the emerging XBRL standard. XBRL won out - and should prove very useful for analysis. (I was thinking of a project I had a few years ago, that involved analysis of dozens of financial reports - it took days. With XBRL I could have done it in hours at the most). 

Another session that wowed people (and was mentioned by other speakers over the two days was Dr Klaus Heinzelbecker's talk on "Unknown unknowns: the ultimate challenge for business intelligence". This looked at ways of approaching and understanding this problem and also what can't be understood. 

I was on a panel session, facilitated by Martin Ainsworth, looking at story-telling as a CI technique. This led to some interesting ideas on how story-telling can be used - and I've written my own ideas on this (some of which came out of the session) at

The final session of day 1 was another choice: Reverse Costing as a way for constructing competitor accounts, or a session on war games for strategy investigations. Reverse Costing is a difficult discipline but the session looked at how it could be done, and how the results can really highlight where competitors are doing things differently. (One example that comes to mind was a case where the client felt that there was no room for cost efficiency so could not understand how the competitor was doing things that seemed to be more profitable. It turned out that the competitor was recycling a key raw material so their wastage was much lower and material usage much more efficient. This meant that the overall process used by the competitor was much more effective and profitable. One seemingly small change made a massive difference). 

Day 2 sessions looked at CI in China, sensory marketing intelligence (a very interesting talk by Luis Madureira looking at how companies use sensual information in their strategies - comparing The Gap with Abercrombie and Fitch and showing how the two differed), a session on tender analysis and what this can tell you about competitor strategies, and a key session on the need for a CI journal.

The CI Journal session was poorly attended, considering its importance. For a subject to be viewed as academically credible there needs to be a peer-reviewed journal covering the topic that is in recognised academic lists such as the ISI Web of Knowledge. Although CI topics are published in a number of journals - looking at marketing, information science and more, there is currently no dedicated CI journal. The now defunct Journal of Competitive Intelligence & Management was just getting to the point that it could have been considered for the ISI Web of Knowledge before it was killed off. This means it will take at least 5 years for a new journal to build up that reputation. Meanwhile CI loses credibility as a serious discipline worth studying without a dedicated journal. Fortunately this looks as though it will be remedied - with agreement to start a new dedicated academic, peer-reviewed, journal. 

The second day concluded with two more sessions. Andreas Vesper looked at trade-show intelligence (as my choice of three sessions - the full programme can still be seen at followed by Dominika Dabrowska showing why social media is now so important for CI and should not be viewed in most cases as secondary research but primary research. 

Apart from the sessions, the networking included a dinner (with an Elvis impersonator) and a tour of Bad Nauheim which is a beautiful Bavarian chocolate-box type town. 

Well done to all involved in organising one of the best CI conferences I've attended.
I've uploaded some photos on the conference.

These are of the conference:
These are of Bad Nauheim:

This is my personal summary of the ICI / Atelis Conference - and based on my memory and the sessions I attended. Perhaps other attendees could comment on their thoughts and the sessions they found valuable. 

Arthur Weiss

Marketing Intelligence for Business Growth
Twitter: ArthurWeiss
International Tel: +44 20 8954 9121 Fax: +44 20 8954 2102

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