Competitive Intelligence

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

CI and Market Research- how do you get your company to understand the difference?

Lately, the Executives are asking me to do a lot of Market research for them. This is not my field of expertise so it is a little harder for me to find the data and do the analysis. We have many Market Research Analyst in my firm but due to my current success with CI [pat myself on the back ;) ], I am being asked to do both CI and Market intelligence. Unfortunately it is difficult for me to push back because they are the SVP and higher (and my boss's boss), I want to be seen as a team player, and I am trying to establish myself and my function within the organization. How would you handle this? Has this happened to you too?

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Hi Samantha,

If you have not already done so, create a mission statement and clear written objectives for your CI position/function.  Have your mission statement and objectives blessed by the powers that be, so that you’ll have solid ground to stand on when you “push back”.

Second, establish a working relationship the market research people.  CI and MR are complimentary activities, not rivals.  Understand what they do and what their capabilities are; and educate them about what you do.

The next time you receive a request for market research you will be able to apologetically state that such a request falls outside your scope.  However, you know exactly the right person in market research to handle this, and that you will tell them to contact you [the SVP] immediately. (make sure they do!)

 

These articles may help:

 

Compemarket Restelligence, by Ken Sawka.  CIM, March-April 2005. (pdf)

Mission Not Impossible! - Define Your CI Unit Position, by Alessandro Comai. CIM, Jan-Feb 2007.

Achieving Synergy Between Competitive Intelligence and Market Research, by Jody Holtzman. CI eBulletin, September 2008.  (pdf)

Hi Trip,

 

Thanks for responding. Unfortunately, I have done most of your suggestions. I have created a mission statement, objectives, created a logo with media templates and  all publications and communications are branded. MR and I have a very good relationship and share information back and forth. I have pushed requests and inquiries over to them when possible. However, when the requests comes from VP level or higher, I am unable to pass the request along to them. I must take the requests and figure it out. Especially when the requests comes from the SVP who my boss reports into. I think, unfortunately, I am stuck.

However, I do not mind doing the extra work - it is just more difficult (sometimes impossible) to complete in the defined timeframe since it is unfamiliar territory.

 

 

Samantha,

Market Research and CI are entirely different animals--they require different skill sets, they work in different ways and they tend to answer quite different questions. Here's a succinct synopsis:

Market Research CI

More what is and what was (rear view mirror) What will be (anticipatory)
More customer focused More competitor focused
Reactive Proactive
Project by project basis method of working (drag and drop) Ongoing, systematic approach over time to get deep
Quantitative and Methodological More qualitative, less methodological
Uses Surveys, Questionnaires, statistical tools Leverages HUMINT (elicitation) skills and carefully
selected and targeted source relationships

MR doesn't answer questions like the following well,but CI should be able to:

1) What is really happening inside competitor X's walls that we could leverage to our advantage?
2) What is competitor X's strategy in the production color market?
3) What's coming from Competitor A,B and C by 2013, where do we think they will be when we launch our new product?
4) How well is Competitor G's Strategy really playing out ? (Well in advance of Market share numbers, etc)
5) Is company C shifting their investment in this IP and moving to another form, and what are the implications? Their likelihood of success?
6) Does any one firm/set of firms enjoy a sustainable competitive advantage in a given market?

Regards,
Monica
Samantha,

RE: My previous post, didn't format right when it posted- sorry, so here I broke it out so it would.

Market Research and CI are entirely different animals--they require different skill sets, they work in different ways and they tend to answer quite different questions. Here's a succinct synopsis:

Market Research

More what is and what was (rear view mirror)
More customer focused
Reactive
Project by project basis method of working (drag and drop)
Quantitative and Methodological
Uses Surveys, Questionnaires, statistical tools

CI

What will be (anticipatory)
More competitor focused
Proactive
Ongoing, systematic approach over time to get deep
More qualitative, less methodological
Leverages HUMINT (elicitation) skills and carefully selected and targeted source relationships

MR doesn't answer questions like the following well,but CI should be able to:

1) What is really happening inside competitor X's walls that we could leverage to our advantage?
2) What is competitor X's strategy in the production color market?
3) What's coming from Competitor A,B and C by 2013, where do we think they will be when we launch our new product?
4) How well is Competitor G's Strategy really playing out ? (Well in advance of Market share numbers, etc)
5) Is company C shifting their investment in this IP and moving to another form, and what are the implications? Their likelihood of success?
6) Does any one firm/set of firms enjoy a sustainable competitive advantage in a given market?

Regards,
Monica
Arik

Hmm is there some problem with the site? Why cant I pull my first post that didnt post formatted correctly?
I tried to retract it immediately and the site wont let me.

M

Monica,

 

Your comparison between CI and market research was excellent.

A lot of people are confuse with the two and those who have practice CI knows that CI would probe much deeper than market research.

 

Thanks to Samantha for bringing the issue up..

 

Jafni

Jafni / Monica,

 

It would be interesting to do a comparison between national intelligence & competitive intelligence because both utilize many of the same principles and techniques strategically and tactically. The only difference is national intelligence is for the state/international system level while competitive intelligence is for the firm/market level.

 

H.Y. Wu

Jafni,

Thank you kindly, glad you liked my short synopsis. I wrote a whitepaper on this when I was working at one of the largest tech firms in the world and it went over very well (ie; I was told I should publish it more broadly outside the company) and what I listed below were some of the key points on the differences I see between MR and CI.

That said, I cant believe there are so many folks having so much trouble with this. I tend to surmise it is largely because, and this is my professional opinion, that MR folks have tried crossing over into CI and they have not done so with much success. Personally, I've seen MR folks try to move over onto CI teams, and it didn't work out well at all. I'm sure I wouldn't last long on an MR team either, but I've had solid success in CI.

Anyway, I wish I still had a document I used to have from a CI Manager in the pharma industry who really took a hard stance on the differences, and why CI and MR shouldn't be merged or CI subsumed by MR; and he articulated many of the same points I made. I remain a firm believer that the two are dissimilar, and it would behoove both CI and MR as disciplines to not convolute the two. They are both essential functions but they answer different questions and require very different skill sets.

Regards,
M
H.Y .


RE: " It would be interesting to do a comparison between national intelligence & competitive intelligence because both utilize many of the same principles and techniques strategically and tactically. The only difference is national intelligence is for the state/international system level while competitive intelligence is for the firm/market level.


Monica: Good point sir, and I think doing such a comparison would be very useful and maybe finally we as a discipline could move beyond this lunacy of having to seemingly constantly illustrate why CI is NOT MR; and that yes indeed we as successful CI practitioners, have far more in common with the IC folks than with MR practitioners !

MN

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