Competitive Intelligence

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Are you the doctor? (Or just doing the diagnoses)

As intelligence professionals we are great in doing research, collecting data and doing all sorts of analysis. From basic statistics all the way up to sophisticated multivariate analysis. Great! We are even capable to disseminate the findings in a decent format.

And then? Most of the time it stops.

Stakeholders see your findings, they may study it, but the question is: what will they do with it? Do they understand the implications and impact of the findings.

Sometimes they don’t understand at all what the analysis tells, sometimes they have a vague idea what this data can do for them. Seldom they completely know what to do.

I am surprised that so often I got stakeholders looking at me with big question-marks in their eyes, saying: “Great report, but what would you recommend I do now?”

The famous: “Now what?” question comes to the table. What would be your answer, Mr. Intelligence?

“Well, that is up to you, I did the analysis, here are the results, so, please use it in the way you want it.

Why are we saying that? Because we presume that the stakeholder, a person in strategy, business development, sales management, should know what to do with the report.

I am sorry to say that you, as an intelligence professional, should not take that for granted.

This is to a certain extent because of the way these reports are written.  They are not clear and crisp enough, sometimes acumen are used that the stakeholder is not familiar with (TAM, SOW, etc).  And so, difficult to understand. Bur also the analysis does not include (by default) what actions stakeholders should or could take. Although we are convinced that the stakeholder is a professional that knows how to run his own business well.

I am a professional of my own body. Yes, I am! I know what to do to stay healthy. I do sports, make sure I have a right work-life balance (try to), take care of my food, no smoking and so on.

However, suddenly I don’t feel well, I go to the doctor and she recommends to have my blood tested.

The doctor takes a sample of my blood, which goes to the laboratories. There, great professionals analyse my blood and even better, they make a big report with all their findings. On sugar, cholesterol, hemoglobin and so on.

What do you think my question, as patient, would be when I see the report on my blood condition?

HDL:                                85 mg/dL

LDL:                              140 mg/dL

Triglyderides:                 1,6 mmo/L

Total serum iron:            75 µg/dL

And so on.


My question is: “So what”?

But even when it is more or less translated into more normal language like: your cholesterol is too high, your iron is low and your sugar level is high, I still will ask the question: “Now what”?

Because, although I try to keep my body in the best possible shape. I don’t know how to interpret the results of this blood test.

Therefore I need a doctor to explain what the results mean and what I can do to improve the condition of my body: e.g. less fat, no sugar, more green vegetables, more sports, stop smoking, etc. (you name it)

This is exactly the same with our stakeholders. We, as intelligence professionals,  we do the diagnoses, great analysis, make big reports (in power point) and give that to the stakeholder. It comes across as if we say: “Here are the findings and good luck!”

The stakeholder will look at the report, look back to you and say: “Now what”?

So, I believe that an intelligence professional should be both the analyst and the doctor, explaining what the findings mean and what could be done to improve the situation. Recommendation, just like your generalist will do to you.

In my experience, as director market and business intelligence, I have seen the appreciation from many stakeholders if you play the doctor and add recommendations on top of the explanation of your findings.

But, in order to do that, I think intelligence people need to become a consultant, a trusted advisor, just like your doctor.

Would you agree? Or do you have a different opinion?

Please let me know.

Good luck with your intelligence


Joost Drieman is owner of Marix International NV, a consultancy company specialized in Intelligence and Strategy. Joost had been director Market and Business Intelligence at Cisco. Before Cisco Joost had senior management positions at several high tech companies in Europe and the USA. He also did consultancy work for the EC, DG Infso.  In total over 25 years international experience in strategy, business development, intelligence and management.

He is visiting lecturer at some business schools in Europe and the USA to teach market intelligence. Joost regularly speaks at conferences (SCIP, GIA, ICI, etc). He is a dynamic, charismatic presenter, interacts with the audience and has the ability to explain difficult topics in an easy understandable way, with a touch of humor. Together with the GIA, Joost developed several training workshops for Intelligence professionals, including Internal Consultative Skills, Internal Marketing, Megatrends, Presentation Skills, and more.


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