What is Competitive Intelligence?

Sure, it’s a buzzword now, but Competitive Intelligence has always been a powerful tool for any leader trying to gain an organizational advantage.

Below is an excellent definition of CI from our friends, Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) and Aurora WDC.

“Competitive Intelligence: A systematic and ethical program for gathering, analyzing, and managing external information that can affect your company’s plans, decisions, and operations.
Put another way, CI is the process of enhancing marketplace competitiveness through a greater — yet unequivocally ethical — understanding of a firm’s competitors and the competitive environment.
Specifically, it is the legal collection and analysis of information regarding the capabilities, vulnerabilities, and intentions of business competitors, conducted by using information databases and other “open sources” and through ethical inquiry. SCIP’s members conduct CI for large and small companies, providing management with early warning of changes in the competitive landscape.
CI enables senior managers in companies of all sizes to make informed decisions about everything from marketing, R&D, and investing tactics to long-term business strategies. Effective CI is a continuous process involving the legal and ethical collection of information, analysis that doesn’t avoid unwelcome conclusions, and controlled dissemination of actionable intelligence to decision makers.”Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals - SCIP
“In short, CI is the purposeful and coordinated monitoring of your competitor(s), wherever and whoever they may be, within a specific marketplace… Your “competitors” are those firms which you consider rivals in business, and with whom you compete for market share. CI also has to do with determining what your business rivals WILL DO before they do it. Strategically, to gain foreknowledge of your competitor’s plans and to plan your business strategy to countervail their plans. As you might expect, this will involve many methods at the tactical collection level, but it will also require integration into your existing information infrastructure, analysis and distribution of the information, and finally, the calculation of business decisions on the grounds of that information and the analysis of same. This is the “intelligence” part of the formula.”Aurora WDC