Competitive Intelligence

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

Arik's comments have lead to a spirited discussion which also invites thoughts about what we call ourselves or our profession. I understand that it's not likely that SCIP will change its name, but the rest of us have to deal with a phrase that is virtually unknown, even among strategists and marketers. Accordingly, we have the option to reconsider this issue.

Many of us started using the term "business intelligence" in the mid 90s to turn the focus away from competitORs, and that worked well for a while - until it was usurped by data management.

Now, I see the early signs that "market intelligence" is slowly being used / usurped by market researchers who want to demonstrate that they offer more than data - that their value proposition now includes analysis.

We know that many CI depts use a wide variety of terms when they don't want to use CI. One of the most popular is some adjective followed by the word insights, such as customer insights or market insights.

It's easy to defend the argument for staying with the term competitive intelligence, but if part of our mantra is staying ahead of change, then we too must be open to what we need to change re our profession - in order to make it current and relevant to business today.

So - how about a naming contest??

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I found your comments fascinating about professionalizing so many disciplines in the UK (and perhaps Europe), as that is not the case in the US. I think there's room for both as a designation is surely not a sign of competency. It's a very different attitude in the US, and I appreciate the opportunity to learn about the UK system.

BTW, in my 30+ years having a CI business, I can't recall being asked about my degrees, and I'm only occasionally asked for references. Surprises me, but I believe that the prospect has either "vetted" me via my website or our conversation convinces them that I know what I'm talking about. In either case, we obviously do business differently here ;)

I'll add to this discussion by stating that I believe there is enormous value in having studied a different discipline and have non-CI business experience. Diversity is more likely to result in a more expansive view of the business world, and I find that people who have worked in a variety of companies and / or doing different work are much more open to new ways of thinking and reality, as well as a better understanding of business options.

My two degrees are in Mathematics which taught me to think logically. I never took any courses in info sources, and learned how to do it by thinking logically ;) and figuring it out. Next time we meet, Sheila, I'd like to discuss the UK and US approaches with you. How about one winter day, breakfast on the beach in LA?

Please forward the paper on professionalizing the practice; thanks for offering.


Breakfast on the beach sounds wonderful. You bring the oysters and I'll bring the Champagne :-) As you rightly say, there is strength in diversity and of course, no one way is best but it would be nice to have a solid ground floor, and some scaffolding in place so that the structure of the tower block could be visualised.

The paper is on its way by e-mail.

Take care
Ms. Wright,

I have been following this discussion and just wanted to tell you that your comments are bang on target and hit the nail on the head. Am pretty sure if SCIP had been in the UK / Europe, the scenario would have been different. CI is perceived, taught and practiced in a totally different way in France.

And you are also absolutely right about the SCIP code of ethics. A good majority of companies outside the US are just not bothered and I doubt even if they are aware of the existence of the code. If this code has to have any value, then SCIP should revoke membership of companies / agencies which are found violating this (I am not too sure if there are any disciplinary procedures in place for organizations that violate the code). I do not know if this can be implemented but till then the code will remain a "nice to have" slide on powerpoint presentations.

I also agree with Arik in having an examination of sorts but for that the central body should have the resources and the influence to carry it off or it would be very region specific again.

I do hope that in the days to come SCIP takes a more active role where people and organizations see a clear and definite value in becoming members AND a clear and definite drawback in not being members.

Best regards,
Hi Seena,

Competitive Intelligence means Intelligence which is Competitive.

Competitive Intelligence is a "Tool" for Corporate Warfare.

Competitive Intelligence is a Tool for Risk Management.

Competitive Intelligence is a Tool for Acquisition Strategies

Competitive Intelligence is a Tool for Retention Strategies - Customer Retention Strategies ie moving a Prospect to becoming a Customer, to becoming a Client, to becoming a Supporter, to becoming a Advocate

Competitive Intelligence is a Tool for Strategic Options - Low Cost, Broad Differentiation, Focussed Low Cost, Best Cost, Focussed Differentiation

Competitive Intelligence is a Tool for Strategy Formulation and Strategy Revision.

If we change the name to anything else, it shows we are desperate ie we give right to commoners in the Corporate World to tell us who we are.

I say, Competitive Intelligence is a Tool to Mitigate the Risks of Globalisation for International Businesses.

Let the Fortune 500 companies appreciate who we are and what we do. In case they do not, it is their loss and not ours.

ThereforeCompetitiveIntelligence is a Tool which helps us outflank and outmaneuver competitors in the Marketplace ie Corporate Warfare.

We operate in the Niche. We exist because we are the best and the finest otherwise the brutal corporate world will SUBSITUTE us through Existing competitors or Parallel competitors or Latent Competitors.
Hi All,

I actually like Competitive Intelligence a lot. It is provocative, descriptive and makes people ask questions, rather than move onto the next guest at the cocktail party. I think the term can be morphed through subtitles for each person's unique twist. I view the term "competitive" as not just being "us vs them", but also as being competitive in the sense of trying to continually improve and get better at what we do. As for intelligence, well, it just sounds so intelligent!

CI means so much to so many different people, and serves as a good, big umbrella. The SOHO entrepreneur may not really even see themselves as being in an "industry," so terms like "industry intelligence" may lose relevance for them. Similarly, non-profits and other organizations may not see themselves as being in a "market" or as being "marketers" (though arguably they should perhaps), so using a term like "marketing intelligence" becomes less inclusive. Also, a chance observation that a competitor has better shelf position in the local supermarket does not require "analysis" as such, so that term seems a bit ponderous.

All in all, I like CI, and will be sticking with it. In earlier discussions we talked about a death spiral, and I think reinventing our name at this point would be counter-productive. If anything, I think we should keep "intelligence" as the anchor, and broaden the usage through line extensions like "competitive and collaborative intelligence."

Cheers.. Rob


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