Competitive Intelligence

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Competitive Intelligence Certification- Is it worth it?

Hi Guys,

The CI function at my organization has really taken off. I found a way to deliver actionable CI to our Executives and BU communities in a way that fits our culture.
As a thought on my growing the CI function, I was wondering if obtaining a CI certification is a good idea? Do you think it would be useful? And if so, which programs are the best?

What are your thoughts?

Thanks again for your help,
Sam

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Thanks Monica!

 

I think you're right.  I don't know how far psychological profiling would go, but it's well worth trying.   My experience is that becoming good at CI comes from enjoying it.  Some people are put off by the intrusive, morally uncertain aspect of ''poking into other people's business''; others just thrive on the unstructured nature of the work, and the challenge of thinking on your feet.  The ones that like it, get good at it; the others drop out.

 

Hi Samantha:

Glad to hear that CI is doing well in your organization.

Coming to your question - the answer depends on what one hopes to gain with a certification:

The benefits I see are:

In some firms, it may be slightly easier to get funding if you have a certification; other departments/ employees are also not likely to question your credentials, if they see an official looking certification on your desk. Again one has to do a bit of cost benefit analysis as these certifications can be quite expensive.

In terms of educating yourself - a good program helps. The focus in this case would be on acquiring knowledge and the degree/certification would not matter. If you are new to CI and want to come "up to speed" a good program is certainly a good bet.One can either learn through experience (trial and error) or one could shorten that learning curve by joining a good program. Access to a good mentor and time/resources to learn on your own is a good alternative to a CI program.

This discussion is very similar to those in the leadership arena.  Does the study of leadership ensure one will become a good leader?  Obviously, the answer is "no".  However, the study of leadership is more likely to improve one's potential to become a good leader.

 

Likewise, the study of analysis does not guarantee one will become a good analyst.  Yet, Mercyhurst (yes, I'm biased, I work there) and many other programs provide excellent foundations for many entering the field.  The rapid growth of additional collegiate programs in this area serves as evidence for this claim.

 

Competitive Intelligence is both an art and a science.  A strong foundation in the science of the field is more likely to produce better results than an OJT approach.  Additionally, all those interested in promoting the concept of CI being a profession should support and promote the establishment of a certification program.  Where would doctors, lawyers and accountants be without, boards, bars, and exams? 

 

I think the Fuld/Gilad/Herring Academy of Competitive Intelligence and the Competitive Intelligence Institute provide a strong foundation and a great first step towards acceptance of CI as a profession.  Will their programs guarantee your success in CI?  No more than a medical degree guarantees one will become a good doctor.  But, if you want to accelerate your potential for CI success they are a good thing to consider.

 

Thanks,

Dan

 

 

Commonsense in an uncommon measure is Competitive Intelligence - Vivek Raghuvanshi

 

At a entry level in an organisation certifications, diplomas and degrees help, but in the end it is about Insight which cannot be taught.

 

Again the dilemma whether Mindset is more important or Skill set.

 

Competitive Intelligence is a 4 letter word.

 

Oops, lol. 

 

Competitive Intelligence = OODA Loop

 

OODA loop is perception driven. Each human being processes information based on the limitations of their perception.

 

A four letter word so simple to define and yet so complex.

 

Samantha,

Quite frankly, you''ve asked a CI question in itself!

First I must say that your recognition of current achievement and desire to grow the CI function is a good attitude that reflects the NOW - SO WHAT? and WHAT"S NEXT? set of connendrum. Answer to which there could be, to a varying degree, inputs from yourself, your CI colleagues, the standard in CI practice ( World-class CI functions for example) in order to determine what you need to know to improve your current practice. Make this a tailored requirements for your company based on the specific circumstances.

So, knowing what you need to know is the first step. Next step will be to identify that need-to-know in your corporate knowledge base (people, systems, networks). This makes a good cost-efficient Knowledge Management approach and If what you need to know is not there, look for the best way to acquire it and the format that's appropriate.

Certification, as you identified is one of the many ways you could acquire knowledge. You could read also from practice books, articles, etc. But it is a longer process to be your own Professor and student. You could go that route if there is no urgency. You could also ask a consultant or a consulting team to help, based on your specifically developed requirements and be part of the process to learn too. This could be justified by the need for speed.

If you decide for a cert, compare your requirements to the content, method and delivery of the certification. Use a checklist approach. If, however, you decide for a consultant or Team, the same checklist approach could be used to compare your requirements to their expertise or deliverable proposal. Feel free --if you need to know-- to drop me a line about what makes a good consultant or consulting team, or which program would be best for your need in the circumstances I described.

All the best,
Ulrich
http://www.linkedin.com/in/houzanme
Yes they do mean something. As long as it comes from a reputable firm like Fuld, Gilad and Herring. This is a profession. Would you have someone operate on you that has not been to med school? Would you hire a lawer that claimed they were self educated? There has to be a standard of Performance, just like many other professions there are certain expectations and without certifications then anything goes. We have to decide if this is a profession or not. Professionals have certain standards of conduct and performance that only certifications can offer. Otherwise the standards are relative and we can make up anything we want. Don't confuse this with competence. There are good Docters and bad Docters, but all Docters were trained with a certain standard. Let's just make sure that the certifications are good and mean something. if I had someone that came to me that claimed to be a good CI professional,yet never heard of Porter's five forces or did not know how to analyze a P&l statement, I would question their abilities. Talent is important,but educationis invaluable.

Monica, thank you for this good discussion. I think, that only Certification make CI profession. This is lake any other certificates (in medicine, engineering, law etc.). In that meaning I am agree with Richard. It is obviously that Certificate will not make you automatically more professional, but it will separate you from the other professionals in the company. Certification is the way to make the basis of standardization of the   process of CI. Unfortunately it is still not been done in the lot of countries (like Bulgaria for instant) and that,s why most of the company owners and CEO negligee the importance of  the CI for the success of the company.

Form my point of view, the existence of so mach courses for CI and lack of standardized university studies demonstrates that CI is not yet perceived as a profession, at least in many countries.

Well said.  A qualification is only valuable if the person who is recruiting you thinks it is.  One small problem in your argument though in securing talent.  P5FA is a descriptive tool unless the elements are weighted, ranked and applied to the firm's CSFs.  Analysing a P&L assumes you know how to desconstruct what the accountant has done and how to identify where the stuff that they don't want you to know about has been buried.  A P&L account is a snapshot of the situation at the time of submission, anywhere up to 18 months out of date by the time it becomes publicly available through regulatory filings.  These are not tools which will lead to insight, rather they help to ensure that you know what everybody else knows.  Oh - and you spell Doctor with an "o" not an "e".

Hi, Sam,

 

I hear this question often, in part because of my involvement with SLA’s CI Certificates program and my academic instruction.  Your post has sparked an interesting discussion here, as this topic often does. Given some of the responses, I’d like to offer some thoughts by first delineating the difference between certification and a certificate. Certification involves demonstration of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) based on prior experience and it overseen by a third-party association. Certification has been a hot debate in the CI community and, as yet, it is not available. Certificates do not require prior experience, but are earned through courses of study through an accredited program within an organization or educational institution. Fuld-Gilad-Herring ACI , ICI, and the SLA CI Certificates Program offer these. (Incidentally, you can find a chart comparing certification & certificates at the AALNC website: http://www.aalnc.org/edupro/certificate.cfm.

 

More specific to your question, I would consider as you make your decision: the depth of your understanding  and experience in CI, your role in your company’s CI program (are you a manager or function specialist?),  the nature and maturity of the CI program (including its use in your company),  the goals/objectives for your CI program, and your own professional goals. A certificate isn’t for everyone, and each program offers different benefits (I’ve recommended all three that I mentioned above, depending on the individual’s needs and situation). Generally speaking, if you feel that you need to develop fundamental to intermediate skills in most or all of the CI process functions (planning & direction, published source research, human source research, analysis, and delivery), then it would be worth considering. These programs can be efficient ways to ramp up, as well as demonstrate your engagement, commitment, and credibility with some internal colleagues who would value this.

 

Regarding the debate surrounding the teachability of CI, as with other process-oriented disciplines, there are theoretical and practical aspects that can be learned, and any practitioner will tell you that this will only take you so far and that application and building direct experience is essential. There is also the “nature vs. nurture” aspect of this discussion in which some will say that, in essence, good CI pros are born and not taught. This ignores the various functions that comprise CI practice. In my own practice and experience, I have found CI pros whose abilities vary according to separate CI functions (i.e. some are brilliant in research and good in analysis, or vice versa) and I have known those who are sharp all-around CI practioners.  I have also found that while the practice of particular CI functions comes more easily to some practitioners, everyone can gain deeper knowledge and understanding that benefit the team and the organization. Learning CI doesn’t replace the vital experience that must follow, but it can get you on the right track, and often faster than doing it on your own.

 

Should you determine that a certificate isn’t for you, you can take courses à la carte, based on the areas you wish to strengthen or in which you want to broaden. This may be the most efficient and economical way, should you already possess fundamental to intermediate experience and knowledge. Courses are offered through the certificates programs I mentioned, as well as SCIP, as Ellen Naylor mentioned. (Academic courses, while available, tend to cover CI in a holistic way vs. targeting specific topics and practices.)

 

Btw, a mentor in CI can also be helpful. I made the great leap into CI with the support of a brilliant mentor and other supporters , and I wish this good fortune for everyone.

 

Good luck in your decision and with your growing program!

 

Very best,

Cynthia

FYI:

SCIP Joins Forces with ACI to Offer Global Certification

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

World's largest competitive intelligence professional group joins forces with the leading competitive intelligence training organization to offer global certification in the field

A joint venture between SCIP and ACI, the world's leading competitive intelligence training organizations, advances the profession's standards for this relatively young field through a quality certification program.

Alexandria, Va. March 22, 2011 -- The Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) society and the Fuld-Gilad-Herring Academy of Competitive Intelligence LLC (ACI) announce a new joint venture to advance the level of professional training worldwide by providing an accredited ACI Competitive Intelligence Professional (CIPTM) certification program and making it available to a global business audience.  

....

Very interesting! Thanks for posting, Trip!

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