Competitive Intelligence

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I am looking for fresh industry examples (any industry) of the impact of CI on the bidding process.

I am giving a talk to our close associates in the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) at the National Symposium this Spring. I want to infuse in rich examples of the impact of CI or lack of CI on competitive bids. This is very encouraging that other industry professionals are taking more interest in CI, so I want to have a good handful of fresh examples. I you can help me out I would appreciate it immensely!

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I forgot to mention, I'll give you or your company full credit in front of 800 people that may be looking for consultants. I just can' t use my specific examples as some are still in competition.
Hi Richard,

Sorry it took me so long to respond to your request; but yes, at least in high tech and professional services, CI is critical to the bidding process. Analysts typically seek competitive bids to monitor competitive pricing, bundling arrangements in order to remain price competitive, but as well to investigate the Terms & Conditions to determine if there are hidden uplifts in multi year contracts they could exploit or differentials in the SLAs that might hand competitors an advantage. Further, often vendors will include their internal competitive positioning benchmarks and so forth in an effort to influence the customers choice, so the bidding process can be a good avenue to gain this information and to formulate competitive responses.

From another point of view (ie; counterintelligence), RFPs/RFIs can also be a potent and viable mechanism for an incumbent vendor to get their loyal customers to elicit naive competitors for them. This is common and I've seen it first hand! There will be a section in the RFI/RFP that reads like an outsourced CI project! Does anyone really think a high end luxury manufacturer cares who a printer company is going to partner with in the next 5 years? Or that the customer needs to know about strategic partnerships on the horizon? As a CI Manager in my first six months at a new firm, I actually had those involved in proposal generation come to me and say, hey you want to fill this out? It blew my mind that these folks didnt realize they were being elicited. Needless to say, I took on a massive education campaign with marketing, legal to help them understand how the bidding process can be used by savvy comeptitors to gleam intelligence and that we should put in standardized documents politely declining to furnish this information.

Additionally, by having CI review competitive bids it can enable a firm to see the degree to which their comeptitors are able to influence the bid process. One trick by smart vendors is getting the RFP written is such a way that they are the only ones who meet say, various category requirements to lock out competitors who might have gaps in their product line, etc. I've seen this multiple times as well.

Always good to have CI involved in the bidding process!

One of THE best examples I ever heard was from Bob Margulies (a former SCIP President) who presented exactly this topic at some SCIP events in the 90s. He detailed the entire process of war gaming as it applied to competitive bidding. He's retired now but may be willing to discuss this with you.

There is something I'd like to share on this. Currently, the Mother of all Defence deals is going to happen for then Indian Airforce in the year 2011. To begin with, the contract is for 125 MMRCAs or Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft. The Bidders are Boeing(F-18), Lockheed(F-16), Dassault(Rafael), EADS(Eurofighter Typhoon), Rosboron(MiG-35), and SAAB(Gripen). Each of their levels of engagement with the Indian Government is so strong, that the degree of freebies on offer are just way too much. But thats not the catch.


The catch is, each of these Aerospace giants is trying its level best to woo both the Ministry of Defence as well as the IAF Decision making cadre. Also, the bid is being monitored by the Competition Commission of India.

(This is a body which ensures that nothing Unethical or Illegal happens between competitors in their 'endeavors' to win bids and contracts..Kinda SCIP monitoring done by the Government themselves...)

So for each of the Aerospace biggies, the Bonus would be another fleet of 75 aircrafts that will have a TOT or transfer of Technology deal which will enable them to manufacture aircraft components at much lesser cost in India.

The CI angle is, the bidders have already started collaboration and technological partnership with Indian companies for having an insight and getting to become the lowest bidder keeping the cost offset in mind.

The net worth of the deal is $ 10 Billion plus other overheads.

You might want to take a look at this and subseqently explore.


By the way Richard, r u an ex-USAF yourselves. If yes, you can do more than justice to this topic, rest assured.


Best wishes.

The monster arms deals like these are just on another planet, they are unreal.  The normal rules do not apply; it is the business of nations, not companies.  And because India is of immense strategic importance this century, all the stops are going to be pulled with this one.

Hardware wise, I am sorry to say that the F-18 is not a good aircraft and the IAF should not purchase it; however, the F-16 has proven itself time and again and would make an excellent purchase.


How will the United States conduct “CI”, if you will, in this bidding?  At the very least, the Intelligence Community will use its resources to monitor the ethical conduct of competitors.  This was a hot issue in the 1990’s.

@ Trip


Partially in agreement. To begin with, the bidding companies are at it by understanding the customer mindset.  At the forefront are EADS and Dassault, as they have been gathering a lot of their valuable inputs from the secondary sources. The degree of customisation they intend to deliver to IAF, is so fine-tuned that their Indian Arm is heavily engaged in needs assessment through retired IAF veterans as well as existing pilots.

Irrespective of the strategic depth and importance India has, their current (and almost urgent..!!) need is a fighter capable of delivering on varying extreme weather conditions with ability to engage and prove a major deterrent to PLAAF and PAF. So, its all about the end delivery, whether its the Americans or Europeans, only time will tell.

However, from the recent Aero India 2011, Dassault and EADS might just clinch the deal owing to the degree of CI they have done on the ground. The same did not happen for Boeing or Lockheed. Because what F-16 Lockheed was offering to India, is just a slightly upgraded version of  what they have given to Pakistan and Saudi as well. And F/A-18 like you rightly said may have been good on an Aircraft carrier, but for air assault theatres like Ladakh and Thar, its as good as a paper plane, as communicated by an IAF officer who flew it at both geographies. Basically, the CI activity pertaining to what the IAF needs was never really carried out.

Richard, call me ...I got a million of 'em. 


Ann Lee Gibson



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