Competitive Intelligence

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

Proactive competitive intelligence vs reactive competitive intelligence

As it seems to me competitive intelligence should be proactive, I found many intelligence practitioners being in a reactive position, having to respond quite quickly to manager requests on Friday nights: lack of resource, lack of methods, lack of tools?

Who you consider yourself a respondent or a proponent force? Would you consider CI practitioners should be proactively leading the competitive edge or should simply reply to corporate inquiries?

What are your thoughts? How do you manage to run a proactive competitive intelligence function within your company? What are the key ingredients to that recipe? 

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Thank you all for your very valuable replies. I learned a lot from them and I think this question relates to the actual roots of competitive intelligence.
- Is it tactical or strategic?
- Is there a budget/resource or not?
- Who does the CI team report to?

It comes to my mind that each company does have its own perception of what competitive intelligence is and what it should be producing.

I have the weakness to tie this discussion to the very recent initiative SCIP is taking to rename this acronym as "Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals".

What are your thoughts? Do you think SCIP also wonders whether there is a need to reposition or enhance what CI is and provides higher visibility in corportations?

Thanks for your thoughts.

The root of CI in corporations today stems directly from the IC (government Intel Community). Where else? So, when sophisticated folks speak of CI, and companies that have strong CI capabilities, they always mean Strategic future forward insights/early warning - so CI in its pure form is STRATEGIC. Now, this is not to say that the tactical folks don't also fall under the overall CI banner, but they tend to be labeled Competitive Response or Business Intelligence as they tend to be current focused.

Strategic CI tends to report to Future Product Marketing, R/D, Corporate Strategy while Tactical CI or day to day business intelligence, tends to report to current product marketing in my experience at large firms.

Also my thoughts on the "Strategic and CI professionals" renaming- I think Strategic and Tactical CI Professionals would be better.

Your answer is, as always, crystal clear, consistent, and to the point. Thank you for your pragmatic and educational insights.
Welcome, if you want to talk about this some time I could make myself available.
Absolutely, late June, early July would be a good timeframe.

Sure, late June is fine, just tell me when. I believe you have my direct line number.
Chris, we explore many of these issues in our recent practitioner survey, called Intelligent Intelligence Career Planning which is available to download from
Interestingly, sometimes even being pro-active can be categorized/perceived as reactive -- which isn't always always bad.

On the good side -- even if you anticipate -- it may have been on the client's [internal or external] mind -- and whether they asked for/about something or not. But it does reinforce that you "get it" and can cut back on micro-management.

On the flip side, they may know they didn't but not want to admit it. And get a little passive aggressive about someone else having a good idea. I haven't had that happen too often personally, but I've seen some colleagues get dinged.

I think really that both response levels have their place, and are part of the iterative process. Indeed, if we were "only" proactive, by definition, we are more professor than service provider. As KITs/KIQs evolve, there is some inherent reactive component, as least as the 'path-honing' tacks in another direction.

And I concur that one earns credibility -- it's not a given. Also that communication/presentation really impacts acceptance. However, I've seen people rely on those reasons as to why they either aren't more proactive or why when they are -- it doesn't go far. It can be an excuse for not wanting to risk being "wrong."

One other thought -- don't recall if anyone has raised it exactly this way, although I know some touched upon it. Today, almost everyone has more on their to do list [love those "stretch goals"] than is possible to accomplish, much least well.

In some cases, pursuing a proactive line of inquiry/analysis means sidelining something else particularly requested, not not giving it sufficient attention...


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