Competitive Intelligence

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

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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Hi Sam,

I agree with Richard, learn the science but definitely mentor the art.

I will be attending Fuld-gilad-herring ACI program this spring/summer and will happily share learnings with you if interested.

"In defense of those that have been there, done that but did not take the course (and did not get the tee shirt)--maybe there should be a process to certify those that have been the pathfinders for the rest of us.  I tip my hat to those that made this a credible profession."  - Richard

I think that is good idea, and would suggest continuing with top-down certification.  It would be easier to certify CI instructors and/or managers (the mentors), than it would individual practitioners.  After ten years or so, the issue of individual certification should be reconsidered. 

Consider:

-  CI consulting/training firms would have the benefit of a recognized certification for its staff members;

-  Academics likewise benefit from a professionally recognized certification;

-  CI Managers receive a certification that has greater weight than a workshop certificate.

Will there still be the issue of distinction in competencies?  Probably, but it is a manageable gap when compared individual practitioner certification.  It will allow for a high standard, which in-turn lends more credibility to CI’s first certification.

Sam asked, “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?”

 

Sam, I don’t know if CI certification is a good idea for you or not.  I’m sure it depends your current skills and job expectations, as well as your career ambitions and career options, not to mention your CI training budget. 

 

Speaking for myself, I can’t imagine getting better at my profession without studying it.  Nor would I expect to get better if I weren’t able to practice CI intensively, get feedback on how useful my intel was, and have opportunities to work in settings where I could intern under people who have better skills than I do. 

 

The downside to working by yourself in a setting where there aren’t lots of super-CI-pros (unfortunately, the kind of spaces I usually work in) is that nearly every assignment is a discovery-learning situation.  You have to create every wheel you need on your CI wagon.  The upside, of course, is that you aren’t blinded by some bloody, linear “first you must …” CI model that some guy in a totally different industry created and wrote a book about.  Not that I haven't read and appreciated a lot of CI books.

 

Frankly, that’s what I have found most useful from any of the CI classes, certification programs, webinars and conferences I’ve attended. I get to see / hear / experience how other people in other industries with different perspectives than mine tackle a CI project.  When I’m lucky, I get to meet and see in action someone who does it better than me. 

 

Most of my certification training has been from the Fuld/Herring/Gilad crowd.  I’m especially fond of the way Ben Gilad thinks, but who isn’t. 

 

But most of the CI certification programs out there really don’t describe true “certification.”  There’s no test to take, no measurement of skills.  It’s merely a “pay your money and get your diploma” deal.  Also, there’s the question of how many hours are really spent in the classroom?  Two weeks isn’t the same as an MBA.  And, by the way, an MBA isn’t the same as studying for a CPA exam.  Three completely different things, isn’t it?  So I’m saying I don’t think there’s any CI certification out there worthy of the name “certification.”  Others will probably chime in and prove me wrong. 

 

Bottom line:  Take CI training anywhere you can find it, especially the kind that requires you to develop some actual intelligence (not listen to lectures).  Leave home and meet up and talk shop with other CI professionals every chance you can get.  Finally, figure out how you can work with someone smarter and better at CI than you are and suck the CI marrow from their brains and bones.  If any of those have the term “CI certification” attached to it, then that’s OK with me, too. 

 

My two cents’ worth.

 

Ann

Ann,

Thank you for your response. I agree with your thinking. I am not sure if the certification is as important as the education-the learning. Since CI certification is relatively new I am not sure how much weight will be put on it during employment evaluation. I am new to this field and want to learn as much as possible so education is a good partner to actual hands-on work.
I do think though that in my company, the certification may provide me more stature. They seem to value this as seen with Project Managers (PMP certification) and Human Resources (PHR). At this point, I dont think it would hurt anything and may lend some credence to my CI analyses.
Hello friends,

A big confusion exists between economic intelligence and competitive intelligence, especially if these terms come from the French model or from the Anglo model.

From my point of view, if a specializing certification is necessary as they were indicating in the example of the PMI or of the professionals of Risk. Also I believe that it is necessary to generate an academic ambience of studies and investigation that norme in universal form this discipline, as it happens with the MBA in the sector business and finance on a global scale.
Ann

Loved your analysis! Precisely right.

Regards,
Monica

But most of the CI certification programs out there really don’t describe true “certification.” There’s no test to take, no measurement of skills. It’s merely a “pay your money and get your diploma” deal. Also, there’s the question of how many hours are really spent in the classroom? Two weeks isn’t the same as an MBA. And, by the way, an MBA isn’t the same as studying for a CPA exam. Three completely different things, isn’t it? So I’m saying I don’t think there’s any CI certification out there worthy of the name “certification.” Others will probably chime in and prove me wrong.
Eric,

Truly brilliant response; and I do mean truly, astoundingly brilliant.
RE: CI Comparatives to medicine/legal fields.


Monica

 

.

 

This is an important discussion. I would like to take it to a different direction- Why there is no certificate needed in Marketing, in Business Development , Human Resources and so on? Are we really different? I do not think so. There is a way to learn and develop your skills- and it is combined by formal academic studies together with on the job training and also short courses to keep up to date as part of personal development like in every profession.  We have to be aware that the academy especially in Business Administration is becoming more aware to integrate in the syllabus also practical courses and this is the direction everywhere not just in Israel, while CI becomes part of the curriculum. I think we all have to participate in CI training to broaden our knowledge, but I'm not sure there is a need for a formal certificate.  It is important that SCIP is giving the support for this program, although I can see a problem with giving an advantage not to say exclusivity, to one firm (ACI) on others that are also in the same business. One of the best ways of learning is through working together with senior consultants that have already gained a lot of experience; this is together with class training where you can learn much from your peers and not necessarily only from the instructors.

For CI to become recognized it is not the certification which will make the difference, but being recognized as an academic discipline. And there is no short cut! It is very important to have a high level well recognized academic journal, in addition to the CIM. It is a mistake to try to compare us to CFA and others which have long recognized because of the responsibilities they have and being recognized for so long. I'm not against the CIP certificate, but I would suggest not developing too many expectations. It is nice to have an open new horizon, but we have to look deeply how to make CI more recognized.

Agreed Avner, very well said - bravo. As you said better than I did, in my comparison with the CFA, I was suggesting that UNTIL we were able to point to a level of authority and recognition of a similar caliber in the CI field, there would be a lot of groundwork to be done in advance of a certification credential carrying a lot of weight in hiring decisions.

As you continue, there is much more work to be accomplished among and between industry and the academic community (a journal for research and degrees/certificates for graduate study) before any similar authority and recognition are believable as eventually forthcoming for CI as a discrete discipline, er ... sorry, I meant, profession.

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