Competitive Intelligence

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

The discussion of the merger has gone on for 130 messages and 11 pages, mostly before the final vote was announced. Now the vote is final, the merger moves forward.

What changes are necessary for SCIP to succeed, in your view? What needs dropped, added, changed, or started? What was failing ... and what is the key to changing the outcome?

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One topic I would like to get the groups feedback on is how can SCIP diversify revenue-generation beyond membership fees and conference registrations?

Is there a shared consensus that conference attendance is not just in a cyclical decline but is facing a secular transition? Are we seeing evidence from other organizations, trade shows and supporting industries that there is a clear and steady downturn in professional development, networking and business development through in-person attendance at events? Is there a transition towards smaller events or non-traditional venues? What are the trends people are seeing in this space that is likely to impact one of the two primary mechanisms that SCIP and organizations like it receive much of their revenue currently?

Following on to that, what are the new, innovative business models that are replacing the value and revenue previously delivered by industry events?
1. Webinars, especially to open new markets (Pacific Rim, Europe, Latin America). For materials, we have the wealth of content and authors from the CIF books: Topics in CI (Trade Show Collection, Starting a CI Function, and CTI)- not just the editors, but many of the authors as well.

To do this well, we need geographically local webinar providers, not those who are tied to US business hours. This has been suggested for over two years, with one SCIP-collaborated pilot for a webinar-based meeting of the Swiss CI Society. Providers (eg Babette Bensoussan) have offered their services. Only need to do it. If these could be LOCALLY MANAGED, with SCIP backing and registration), we might be able to greatly increase this type of revenue.

2. The CI topics books: Members should be encouraged to buy multiples of these books for their colleagues and clients- not just one for "own library." This might encourage companies and local chapters to invite authors to speak- creating presentation slides and thus, materials for future webinars.

3. Learn form others on how to advertise a meeting. The "Pharma CI" meeting that meetings in September every year has ALREADY mailed out its very attractive and compelling program (in May). It leverages speakers names (Most from SCIP, of course) and is experiementing with innovative formats and audience participation. Key SCIP sponsors also sponsor this meeting every year and industry specialists are choosing it OVER SCIP for several years running now. Since we have not done industry-specific meetings, perhaps we could co-sponsor??? The organizer has been willing (for several years) to consider profit sharing with the CI Foudation in return for sponsorship. [Legal problems, now solved. were a roadblock in the past but should no longer provide a barrier].

Perhaps this could be a model to get SCIP into industry-specific meetings without having to totally re-invent ourselves?

4. What about credentialing? I thought there was a "go" on that in San-Diego. I get FREQUENT requests for such courses. Perhaps some of the involved vendors/volunteers could draft a model to make this happen NOW?? The head of SCIP's Boston Chapter somehow got a CI credentialing program for SLA in a very short period of time. What can we learn from them?

5. What about organized advocacy? Again, locals volunteers could target a few schools at a time, and a few businesses, to drum up awareness, sales for the CI Topics books and increased memberships. this could be done with the full knowledge of the SCIP staff but INDEPENDENT of them, in terms of having to "backcharge" SCIP staff as overhead to such activities.

6. If we drop membership rates for individuals, perhaps we wouldn't have to rely so much on individual corporate-paid memberships. In addition, WHAT ABOUT CORPORATE MEMBERSHIPS? Where 5-10 people could be sponsored by the companies at once? There is a "Industry Liaison Program" at MIT that could be a model for such memberships.NONE of the above ideas are new, so IDEAS are not the problem. Implementation is the issue...

7. Member-generated Communities f Practice, to ioncrease value from SCIP contacts. Again, these could be independent of the SCIP bureacracy but draw upon SCIP meetings as opportunities for in-person gatherings.

Bottom line: Skilled and experienced volunteers need to be proactive, with SCIP's blessing but NOT its overhead!

How can SCIP improve governance both in terms of reducing its costs and increasing transparency? Here are some of my thoughts:

⁃ Lower-cost governance (fewer in-person meetings, increased use of collaborative technologies)
⁃ Clarify strategic vs. tactical role of board in staffing and technology decisions to avoid delaying critical
decisions and eliminate staff's need to always "wait for the next board meeting"
⁃ Increase transparency of governance through regular posting of minutes of board meetings
⁃ Social network, blog or other medium for member comment, feedback and suggestions

Alternatively, is governance even an issue of how SCIP arrived at where it is and necessarily one of the items to be considered for reform? How broad is the consensus that this is a real issue?
One of the themes that seems to come up again and again in discussions of SCIP is how we as CI professionals are supposed to be so insightful but an organization populated with CI professionals seemingly failed to see technological disruption and threats from competing professional organizations like the SLA? Many have said that they've had unsatisfying discussions with SCIP staff or board members about the true nature of the threat to SCIP from SLA, private certifications, etc.

We've also had a number of discussions related to "Are We in a Rut?" that have hinted at the notion of CI professionals being secretive with the innovation we're exploring in our day jobs. There's the feeling that there are pockets of thought leadership and technical innovation going on all over the place but no venue to share those ideas with the community because they represent competitive differentiators for vendors and competitive advantage if we're practitioners. Is there a way that we can use SCIP itself as a laboratory for shared CI training and innovation?

Eat our own dog food! Get SCIP members busy applying their CI skills and give newer members opportunities to learn from mentors by applying CI to directed projects that help the society anticipate and adapt to the changing environment in which it operates:
⁃ "Win/loss analysis" by interviewing non-members and non-renewing members to understand why they
aren't members
⁃ Regular strategic analysis of SCIP's "market" including risk and opportunity through traditional and new
analytical methods
⁃ Leverage membership to conduct CI research for the betterment of the society and the practice, use SCIP as
a CI use case and have research and results conducted in the open for all members to see and learn from
⁃ Friendly "competitor intelligence" on other professional organizations such as SLA, AMA and others to
illustrate what they are doing well compared to SCIP, what we are doing well and what opportunities and
threats they are facing (obviously I am betraying a preference for SWOT here). In the name of openness,
partnership and raising the profile of the profession we can even make these analysis available to their
leadership and also invite them to respond.
Any quick visit to will tell you within seconds that from a technology perspective SCIP is living in a different decade. As an active chapter leader, webinar presenter and vice-chair of the recent Chicago conference I'm always frustrated to hear the "can't" and "yeah, but" from SCIP staff about the limitations of their technological infrastructure. I've heard a lot about databases and platforms that are supposedly standard packages used by the majority of associations or organizations but seem to me to be significantly over-priced and have locked SCIP in to a very narrow technology roadmap that offers few options to improve member value.

One of the reasons I voted for the merger with FSI is because of the potential for shared services to pull SCIP out of this technological hole it has somehow dug for itself. With that in mind I want to throw out some of my suggestions for improving the society's ability to deliver additional value for its members. All of these kinds of activities should fall under an umbrella strategic plan for the society, how it will deliver member value and a technology roadmap for the infrastructure that will be needed to get us from where we are to where we want to be.,

⁃ Move away from the notion that all technology platforms have to be built or owned in-house. SCIP's
implementation of their web site, blog, discussion forums, lack of CRM and other platforms is evidence of
the problems with this approach. I really hope FSI can bring insight and deliver value here.
⁃ Articulate a strategy on technology selection and procurement that emphasizes an ability for tools to
interoperate, require minimal professional service support, use open data standards that can more easily be
migrated among vendor offerings.
⁃ Become smarter about testing communications mediums. De-emphasise approaches that are too cap-ex
heavy on the upfront.
⁃ Leverage low-cost and no-cost technical solutions
⁃ Active use of Ning, LinkedIn and Facebook and leveraging social networks for member value. Board
members and specific staff members should be actively engaged and active in these communities.
ACTIVE participation, not just passive monitoring.
⁃ Podcasts of in-person presentations from chapter meetings and conferences
⁃ Audio and video podcasts created for the sole purpose of Internet distribution (read: presentations created
with the intention of being distributed via the net, more than just recording in-person presentations)
⁃ Freemium offerings to make content available to non-members that promotes SCIP and promotes the
practice and profession of CI. Include some archive and current articles from CI Magazine as well as some
audio and video podcasts, etc.
⁃ Replace high-cost platforms with low-cost offerings such as webinars both at lower per-attendee cost and
better margin
⁃ Regular reviews of new social network platforms and communications media that the society should be

Right on. The key to implementing your ideas, however, lies in committed and knowledgeable people to do the digging, suggesting, implementation and upkeep. Also, there is the alerting and educating of the membership.

As long as SCIP has to rely on one "IT" staffer, no matter HOW GOOD, this will never happen!

So, how can we leverage the volunteers: Kieran Michal Browns, August Jacksons, Arik Johnsons and the many more of you out there who are knowledgeable in this area so as to a) achieve rapid and effective membership connectivitiy while b) collaborating effectively with SCIP but c) not burdening SCIP staff headcount?

The model we need is the one which can leverage our volunteer skiiled force, without becoming burdensome to individuals who do have other lives, or running at cross-purposes with SCIP staff, already overburdened. Are there working models from other organizations that members could share to this point???

WHAT ABOUT A SCPI / IT Community of Practice with the mandate to address the connectivity issue? Once upon a time there was a volunter Web Task Force but many of those folks wound up very frustrated with the limitations imposed upon their options...

The dogs know what food they like the best. They'll eat the stuff that they like and turn their noses up at the stuff they don't. It is pretty clear how the "pack" has been voting in recent years -- SCIP has lost out and failed to capitalize on far too many opportunities while other, more adept and agile groups have been serving the right Doggy Chow!! I would agree that we need to have some cogent CI done in, for, and around this community. SCIP members (of which I am one) perpetually suffer from way too much "do as we say" (and not "do as we do") syndrome. Keep pushing forth the positive ideas August... we need to actually choose and do some of them moving forward.
This has been mentioned many times in many different discussion threads on this forum; and within this thread with Arik's question "is CI is a profession?"

So my 2 cents is no more than repetition -- but I think that one of the most important things that SCIP needs to do to move forward is to reach a position of extreme clarity on what competitive intelligence is. To draw some lines in the sand that can be understood by people within, but even more importantly, by those outside of SCIP.

For instance, in Vivek's post on benchmarking the CIA -- he lists potential competitors / collaborators to CI as the following:

1. Market Research agencies
2. Management consultant agencies
3. Business Intelligence agencies
4. Knowledge Management agencies
5. Credit Reporting agencies
6. Private Investigation agencies
7. Database providers

We need to be able to clearly articulate what our relationship is to these fields and their practitioners and what gap SCIP is filling vs. other associations such as the ones August mentions -- SLA, AMA, foresight associations, business strategy associations...

Even if our knowledge domain is very similar to another association's we could still fill a unique space in terms of the services we provide to our membership and/or the members that we choose to serve.

I'm sure that all the great discussion around the member segmentation within SCIP will be helpful to look at what CI is and isn't to the different member groups -- but perhaps in the end SCIP will make strategic choices to serve some groups while referring other groups on to different organizations?

There's a great relevant discussion started by Kieran on mindmapping CI to work on creating clarity on what CI is.
"Express yourself, even if you think you're covering old ground. Just because something has been said, it hasn't been said in every way, it hasn't been said to every audience... and it hasn't been said by you."

-Futurist Michel Godet, Creating Futures


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