Competitive Intelligence

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

Implementing a Competitive Intelligence company in the development of industrial products

Hi all, I am student of Masters in Technology Management, and am very interested in the subject of the application of competitive intelligence in Mexican companies I'm currently making practices in a company specialized in engineering design for storage systems and transportation of bulk materials, there is great interest of the Directors to develop a Competitive Intelligence Unit and I am in charge of a pilot project for this activity, I would help much if you could have opinions and advice from experts like you to make this work, has been working on a model for the company and have sought some tools, all free software as yet there is not much budget for this project, which is why I require in their work experience to put into practice their knowledge, in advance thank you for your help.


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Hello Jose,

As someone who has successfully created a strategic CI program in a $22B tech firm that had no formal CI group and capability prior, I'll give you a couple general tips based on my experience, and a list of common issues that lead to most new functions failure. If what I have to say here peaks your interest, you are welcome to contact me for more, but here is some quick and dirty for free:

So, let's start here:

1) Who is asking you to create a CI Unit? Is it sales and current product marketing or is it R/D, future product development, executive management?

These audiences have very different needs, and ultimately require different types of CI folks with different skills; particularly if the company is large and has multiple product lines as it is impossible for one analyst/very small team to be picking up the phone and reacting to sales force inquiries around current product (doing tactical CI) all day long- if they are also expected to project the future (strategic CI).

So backing up-typically the executive audience and future product folks will want strategic early warning (SEWS), future forward information while the sales and current product marketing folks will want information on how do I beat a competitor and their existing products today. Typically then, higher level Strategic CI folks report to Corp strategy or R/D and work on future focused elements and are trained in procuring HUMINT/doing elicitation, while Tactical CI folks, which tend to be lower level, handle the current focused information which of course is much easier to get. Big tech companies usually have two if not three, legs to their CI effort-Strategic, Tactical and Technical CI (benchmarking) accordingly.

2) Does your audience have a well developed set of KITs/KIQs?(Key Intelligence Questions, Key Intelligence Topics) If not, you need to work with your audience or audiences to flesh them out, this will help guide you in how you might structure a team to provide said intelligence, skill sets you will need, type of CI folks you require, etc.

3) Most common mistakes?

Putting the CI team too low in the organization to command executive attention and support.

Functional misalignment-locating a CI group you want to be strategic under current marketing (current marketing isn't responsible for planning for the future) so your CI team will become tactical only in the blink of an eye...

Asking one set of analysts in a large company to be both strategic and tactical at the same time. (Normatively the strategic analysts can do the tactical analysis, but the tactical analysts cannot do the strategic work)


Hello Monica

First we want an apology for taking so long to respond, since I had problems with my laptop, second I want to thank you for taking the time to reply.

This project I'm doing at the beginning is for the area of sales, the company is called Silos and Truck SA de CV, this is their website:, this company has various products for handling bulk materials. This concept, bulk-materials includes alignment, blending, storage, formulation, control, preparation, dispensing, measurement and transportation of raw materials.

Managers are interested in developing the IC in the company but for the moment we have very few resources, both human and technological cone that for the moment we only have computers and use of free software, and only 4 people are the q will be working in project.

We have not yet begun to work as only practical way we have been working on developing a model or methodology, making diagrams and identifying sources of information, but I find myself stuck in the hard part of the model in the intelgiencia as such, say, how to treat this information really become strategic information.

Te agradeceria q me advice or tips you could give in this part.

Thank you so much!, Greetings from Mexico
Hello Josè,

John Prescott and I have been working in designing a model which shows how to implement a CI function in the organization ( This framework is more suitable for those companies that have already a CI function in place. However, it can be used also for start-up CI operations as yours.

If you would learn how to use and implement the "World-class CI Function" framework, please let me know. I am available to share findings and norms we have developed since 2005 with more than 190 companies worldwide.

Best regards,

Si quieres, me puedes enviar un correo direccctamente a mi direccion:
Hello Monica,

If you were interested in benchmarking your CI function, I am available to offer the access to our tool. Let me know!

Best Regards,
Alessandro Comai

OK, so your audience is sales. So, what they are going to really want from you and your team of 4 folks is the following:

1) Information on how Silos and Truck SA de CV's competitors are positioning against the company presently.

This can be answered by gathering RFPs, pricing data sheets, sales slicks and presentations to customers from sales reps, user and industry forums and so forth.

2) Insight into whom they are losing business to and why

This tends to require a formal, bid win loss process. Sales reps tend to be biased inherently, so I would suggest using an independent third party that will bring some objectivity to the table. The bid win loss process also provides a cross check to the competitive marketing messages-ie; you might be seeing company x saying a,b, c in their materials, and you might be led to believe that's why a customer is selecting company x over you but in reality it may be something else entirely.

3) Heads up on imminent new offerings they are going to have to compete against.

Given you dont have a strategic, future focused CI org in place, whose role is to be predictive/ provide strategic early warning (SEWs) for those doing future product development etc- you need to set up a competitive hotline where sales reps can call in with information to feed your small team of 4 on what they are hearing out on the street about new products being introduced to accounts, potential pricing, features, etc. You should work to verify the information, and then create tools for the sales force to respond to the new offering. (Competitive sell against tool showcasing your strengths, highlighting their weaknesses, etc)

Just a few general tips,
I don't know if you're still looking...I was outta touch when you asked your question as part of my life is traveling to art shows and helping my husband market and sell art! But here is an article about capturing information from sales that you might find useful. Many of the ideas from this timeless article work regardless of industry since Sales is such a universal process.


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