Competitive Intelligence

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

Competitive Intelligence 2020: The Discussion that Started in Orlando

I facilitated a short session with over 100 of my closest acquaintances (and quite a few good friends as well ;) about what were the driving trends which would help shape the field and practice of competitive intelligence about ten years hence. I organized this discussion around our various tables in nine categories (all of which I had suggested should be globally-focused), as follows;

1. Demand for CI Products and Services

2. Supply of CI Resources (human, informational, technological, etc.)

3. Place of CI in the Organizational Hierarchy

4. Primary (PR) and Secondary Research (SR)

5. Analysis

6. Communication, Dissemination and Reporting of CI

7. Vendor Community

8. Association Community

9. Academic Community


I had suggested to the attendees of this session that the discussion would continue on this site; as such, I am offering this discussion forum up for allowing not only the attendees to contribute but also for the broader CI Ning community to chime in as well.

So, what are the key drivers which will shape the future of CI? Please feel free to add your drivers to the category (or categories) of your choice and keep this discussion moving ahead.

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Hi Craig,

I like these categories. I would add one more: Social media in the context of real-time competitive intelligence, and taking action in real-time along the lines of what David Meerman Scott preaches in his book "Real-Time Marketing & PR." Much of what he talks about can be applied to the field of competitive intelligence. He was our keynote at AIIP's annual conference--excellent and engaging speaker!


Hi Ellen: Absolutely. Social media as a real-time influencer of future CU work was raised as a driver under the "communication, dissemination and reporting" of CI category. It was also referred to under the "primary (PR) and secondary research (CR) category banner. Several groups noted that there has been a "blurring" of primary and secondary research being created by increasing utilization of social media for CI.

Additionally, at least one table talked about how this is not yet a global phenomena in that some large markets (e.g., China) had only indigenous social media applications available instead of the better known in the US versions of FaceBook or Linked In. You'll note we have few (not zero -- but few nonetheless) Korean, Japanese or Chinese participants even here among our 1800+ members of the CI Ning community, despite my observatoin that most folks performing CI in those countries usually speak English as a second or third language!  

Cool that social media is covered under two of your categories. I consider social media a stepping stone between secondary and primary, since it's a great place to find people, and you can often read what they blog & have a comment there, which is closer to secondary, since it's not real-time. They'll get back to you when/if they do, right?

I think that social media is pretty widespread in Asia. I think they prefer to converse in their native tongue, and that might be more the reason why many are not participating in CI Ning. All 3 of those countries have their own alphabet, and also don't necessarily want to broadcast outside of their country that they do CI. In Japan, there are some social media networks where you have to be invited to join. I wonder if you and Arik as the world travelers, have invited some of your colleagues to join our Ning, by sending them an invitation since that is closer to their culture. A thought.

Hi Craig, 


I see a new trend in on-line CI where heavy data analysis tool for CI are becoming very important. Most of them are based on internet data retrieval and analysis. Companies as e-commerce for instance need to understand internet in a very effective way. On the other hand, social networks are also becoming very important for companies (for instance corporate reputation). As soon as we work and interact more and more with internet, on-line CI will be an important part of the traditional quanti-qualitative work. 




Funny - I was part of this discussion in Orlando...  :)


One of the trends we are seeing is that although there is a manual process to obtain data and intelligence from lost prospects and existing customers to understand a firms perceived strengths and weaknesses - they are all wanting it real time and online - so they can take it to meetings - strategize in an airport - or run trends in their quarterly meetings...


Information costs money - intelligence makes money...  



...Like Rick Marcet was taking about at SCIP when he discussed the real-time win/loss process he had designed and implemented at Microsoft. the link to his book.

OK, Microsoft is big and has lots of sales opportunities and the software systems to capture this data. Many companies have fewer sales people and opportunities, and less software expertise and budget. There is still a way to capture this data sooner using the CRM that the sales force is using such as The sales force reports sales events on weekly basis, so that is pretty close to real-time if the communication channels are set up. I find that is the issue more than the technology: the willingness to share, and to make it easy for Sales to share. These two factors were strongly taken into account in Marcet's win/loss process development at Microsoft.

A trend that touches on many of these drivers is the need for intelligence from multiple sources. Competitive Intelligence is much more than just analyzing your competitors and reacting — it is gathering a wealth of information that makes your organization more competitive relative to its entire environment.

For example, when obtaining primary research it's important not to rely only on your sales team's input. If you go about it this way you will be making strategic decisions using biased and incomplete information. It's critical to validate internal assumptions and turn the information you receive into actionable intelligence. 

I am in complete agreement with this Crystal and have exhorted the use of all forms of intelligence collection and gathering that can be done ethically and legally. Unfortunately, and I am generalizing to a small degree here as there are some nuances involved, we have seen a major shift over the last decade to corporate over-reliance on secondary sources and a lessening of the use of primary ones. Before the new and social media days, many intelligence specialists realized the best "nuggets" of forward-focused was gathered through primary methods, and they developed and trained accordingly. This meant that some very good primary collectors were out their plying their expertise.


We see less of that today and a greater tendency to "fall back" on the more convenient, but also often less-valuable, secondary sources. Note as well, at least in corporate circles, the use of other intelligence gathering like SIGINT, IMINT, ELINT and so on, has never had a foothold (often due to cost or ethical issues).

Hi Mr. Craig!


How about technology variable messing up all forecasts?!


IBM Simulates 4.5 Percent of the Human Brain and Might Make You Obsolete by 2019



The interactions within the brain network at the protein level are incredibly complex. New complexities arise as simulations become more efficient. Furthermore the description of the synaptic events are too simplistic.

Perhaps the evil robot genious will come by 2099 ...


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