Competitive Intelligence

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Leveraging Social Media and Collaborative Technology to Create/Organize a Competitive Intel Function

Greetings! I am a very recent addition to the CI profession having only graduated from Mercyhurst College with a degree in Intelligence about a year ago. And that degree is about the extent of my experience in this field.

 

Regardless, I was recently hired by a mid-market software vendor and one of my first tasks is to help expand and organize their current CI function, which I would like to do by leveraging internal social media and collaboration tools (wikis, blogs, micro-blogs, social networks, etc.). While I am familiar with how to use this technology, I am looking for good references and examples of best practices within a CI context. During college I did a good bit of research on the problems resulting from poor intelligence sharing and the growing potential for Web 2.0 to assist with more expansiive collection initiatives and nuanced analysis; I am just not all that familiar with this material within a business/CI context. I can see the benefits, I just need material to help others here envision the same potential and results.

 

Does anyone have any advice as to where I can begin to look for such examples (case studies, white papers, which organizations are doing this and doing it right), or input as to how I can get started (personal experiences, innovative ideas, techniques and methods)?

 

Thanks!

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Kevin:

 

I personally don't know of any good materials on this topic, but I'd be interested to read them if they exist.  My own observation on this issue is that social media tools are a great way to more easily leverage existing knowledge and expertise. Today, it is common for many people within a business to be comfortable with these tools, but even if they aren't, the tools themselves are fairly intutitive to use.  (Certainly, moreso than the ERP systems which some CI functions have tried to use for this purpose in the past.)

 

However, I have found that all of these tools still require a significant amount of human care and feeding.  One cannot simply supply the tools and then expect the process to work on its own.  I find that I need to constantly remind people to participate, to post relevant materials, etc. Like so many other processes, the technology component is much simpler than the human element, which takes much more work than I think many people realize.

 

Bill

Great topic! I've been interested in this since about 2002 when I saw a presentation at a conference in Europe where Nokia's CI director was explaining how they were using MoveableType and MediaWiki to run their group. Since then, I've looked at LOTS of software in this space and keep coming back to Traction TeamPage as best of breed. Feel free to get in touch privately if you'd like a more detailed testimonial or check out how we're using it at www.IntelCollab.org. Free for up to five users and the new 5.1 release includes some pretty great project management features.

Bill-

 

Thanks so much for your response, and I couldn't agree more. My current struggle is not as much how to deploy the technology, but how to get people on board; how to champion a willingness to contribute across different teams and departments. I spent a good deal of time in college researching and testing the theory behind collaboartive intelligence initiatives, and the biggest variable was culture. Whether dealing with the multi-departamental organization of a corporate setting or the hierarchical and segmented structure of the federal intel agencies, the key roadblock is usually facilitating a shift in culture.

 

I will keep looking and asking around for examples and best practice scenarios, and will keep you in the loop if I come across anything of value. This will link to a document released a few years ago addressing the anaytic potential of a wiki platform. It doesn't really answer all the questions, but it does provide some interesting statistics (more focused on small, requirement-based, analytic initiatives).

 

Cheers

Kevin

http://www.scribd.com/doc/2340879/A-Wiki-Is-Like-A-Room (naturally I forgot to paste it in...)

Of interest:

 

A Wiki Collaborative Platform, by Daphne R. Raban, Ph.D. Competitive Intelligence Magazine; January-February 2008, Volume 11, Number 1.  (PDF)

This article starts by explaining why collaborative intelligence efforts are of interest to all CI stakeholders, managers, academics, and practitioners. Then the article describes a unique wiki-based collaborative project implemented in the University of Haifa, Graduate School of Management.

Hi Kevin, we're using a couple of in-house platforms for CI an BI that rely heavily on elements of social media.  Our "Villages" is focused on connecting various SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) on a "just-in-time" basis around very specific sales scenarios.  Using a combination of professional and personal attributes, users can search for people based on a number of search criteria or freeform text searches.  When fewer than 20 appear in the results, a single click opens a just-in-time discussion dialogue box that allows the searcher to enter the topic and the details, much like this forum.  The persons in the search receive an email to opt-in to the discussion, and then the whole thing is posted on the discussion forum, where it can be indexed and archived.  Others can join in at any time.  For sensitive topics, the originator can select to make the discussion private.

 

In another technology framework we use for win/loss reviews, we allow the opportunity owner to add short narratives to the information captured from the CRM, in addition to selecting factors that led to the outcome. We're taking advantage of the fact that our field sales teams are much more inclined to participate in this knowledge model over a wiki-style fomat.  Added to it are the coolest data vizualizations that is open to them, and you have more willing participation.

 

Hope this helps a bit.  Sorry I can't point you to any off-the-shelf stuff, but hope that it gives you some ideas.

 

-Rick

A tool I have had recommended to me is radian6 for monitoring the social media. However, as Bill mentions the key to making it work is to getting a dialog going, not simply monitoring the data. Regular human contact is what separates the good CI operations from the rest.

Rick...I like both the in-house apps your company has developed, and it sounds like they're working since you are even getting Sales engaged. Hat off to you! I recall that Cisco had developed a similar SME tool and some years ago they spoke about it at a SCIP webinar.

Ellen Naylor

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