Competitive Intelligence

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

Hey sole practitioners, this post is for you. We all have the dream. Wondering how yours ends. You stand alone and have one powerful tool to support you today, so far so good. If given a fixed amount of money to expand your competitive intelligence department, would you rather hire a second headcount or do more yourself with new tools/licenses/travel? You can't have both. Pick one.

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I am a technology person. Let me liken technology to horses. What your team wouldn't want is technology that is a one trick pony, especially during impressive demos. Short while back I was listening to August Jackson's podcast discussing Sean Campbell and Scott Swigart their e-book "Go Beyond Google". They point to a common experience many share - sifting through hundreds of Google results and leave without finding what you wanted. This sort of technology is perhaps a draft/draught horse - hauls heavy loads, not much to train. If the technology is a versatile horse that can be trained (or configured well), be it for equestrian or farm or racing or policing etc., even something as crazy as a horse that does simple math (saw it on TV, don't know when) then, it makes sense to get a trainable horse of appropriate breed that works with man or woman to perform a task effectively. Your choice can range from thoroughbred and hot blooded Arabian horses that cost lot of money to a less expensive quarter horse with a milder temperament. Keep in mind, getting a horse means there is its training (implementation costs) too. But then, if your team is not likely to get the horse to drink after getting it to the water, and can do without it, you can hire a colleague. Again, I clarify picking a good horse is a lucky bet. On the other hand, choosing people is not that sort of a game. You mentioned travel. If the technology or headcount choice is not clear, one can use the money to travel (to SCIP etc) and figure out while you wait for the next budget cycle, more wiser. Incidentally, since I mentioned Google, many of you know they have, using my terms - a trainable horse - the GSA.
P.S. I positively hope to not have upset good folks around here, in case you found my response off topic!
In this scenario I would definitely choose to increase the headcount. There are two reasons for that. New CI functions in an organization need to gain legitimacy with senior management in order to be given additional resources. That is probably why you might not have a large amount of resources to work with right now. The only way to gain significant legitimacy is to persuade senior management of the value of intelligence and insights, so the additional headcount can aid in that persuasion effort. People will persuade senior management more effectively than tools can. Also, meaningful intelligence is created in most cases by people instead of tools. No tool can create real creative intelligence the way people can. People ultimately do the interpretations and feed that intelligence into the strategic planning process.


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