How often?

December 12, 2013

An article in The Economist Technology Quarterly[1] discussed the continuing use of magnetic tape for data storage. It included a discussion of the so-called “storage hierarchy”. That analysis divides data that a business holds into three categories:

  •   Hot data – data which must be available for immediate access.
  •   Lukewarm data – data that people need to access frequently but not instantaneously.
  •   Cold data – data which may be needed in the future, but which can be kept in long-term storage.

An interesting point was that a 2008 study has found that, in general, 90% of an organization’s data becomes “cold” after only a couple of months.

So what does that mean for competitive intelligence?

Look at your intelligence on your competitors, your competitive environment, your customers, your suppliers, that is, on your entire corporate environment. How current is that intelligence? Using the above analogy, after some period of time, say 90-180 days, your data, and therefore the conclusions which you have based on that data, and the actions you have planned to take based on those analyses, are at least “cold”.

The lesson is that collecting CI and using CI is not a static process. It is a dynamic world and your CI process has to be equally dynamic. That means the days of the “let’s update a profile of our competitors for the annual strategic planning retreat in March” and then leaving those profiles untouched until next year should be over. (Actually they should never have happened).

Word to the wise.


[1] “Magnetic tape to the rescue”, Nov. 30, 2013, http://www.economist.com/news/technology-quarterly/21590758-information-storage-60-year-old-technology-offers-solution-modern .


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