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Lesson 3: The Intelligence Base

In this Lesson you will learn more about the Intelligence Base. 

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The Intelligence Base

1. Systems

First of all: Competitive Intelligence is not an IT project. However it happens quite often that CI ends up in the IT division where it doesn‘t belong. Although the use of IT is a basic element for successful CI work. Therefore you can find a vast number of technical support opportunities like Excel, Access, Lotus or own Competitive Intelligence portals. My rule-of-thumb: no more than 20 per cent of the CI budget should be used for IT ; for research and analysis, it should be 80 per cent!

2. Organisation

Besides knowing the exact localisation of the department (the person) it is even more important to know whether the necessary support is or isn't available.Everybody wants to have it but nobody wants to make an effort. It seems that trainees or people who are unfamiliar with the business are conducting research. Isn‘t that blameworthy and careless? CI is located either in Research & Development, Sales, Strategic Department, Marketing, Market Research, Information Centre or in own staff units. Or –often in large enterprises – in several of these departments.The topic is only feasible in a “top-down” fashion; that means management or decision makers are the ones that give the kick-off!

3. Costs

There is no such thing as a free lunch! CI costs money. However, only solidly educated, qualified and motivated employees can move the enterprise forward. Setting up a professional competitive intelligence, pays off every investment over and over.For a well-performing competitive intelligence unit, you need qualified employees, IT systems (at least one database), access to paid data sources (databases, studies, and so on), training and continuing education, as well as an external service provider.Think twice: Can you really afford to give up a professional competitive intelligence unit?

4. Culture

Even within the enterprise, the slogan “Don‘t Share Your Strengths!” is valid. Knowledge is power! This is particularly noted in the marketing department. The target is to achieve a cooperation across the departments‘ borders and to reach an active involvement of other departments into CI activity. That kind of cooperation works differentially efficient in practice.Very often according to the “carrot-and-stick” approach, on the one hand, incentive systems will be created (e.g. the sales & marketing department obtains information in advance) and on the other “pressure will be built up” on executives to share knowledge. Hence, an example setup on the part of the executives is certainly required .

5. People

First of all, the perfect CI manager doesn‘t exist because that role postulates a wide range of qualities, which are rarely to be found in one person. Therefore, this should be a person (depending on the tasks) with conceptual and strategic thinking. But it is also essential to have a good rapport with top management. Analytics expertise and self-organisation are required as well as team guidance, good communication skills and cross-linking within the enterprise.As we said above: This is the PERFECT profile.