Competitive intelligence and small businesses

August 20, 2014

A professional acquaintance of mine, Pascal Frion, recently forwarded me a synopsis of his thesis[1]. In his research, he concluded that CI’s traditional approach to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has failed due to its “shallowness”.

Let me give you my take on his conclusions. (What follows is how I understand his work and my reacti0ns to it).

Pascal found that there were difficulties both in initially adopting CI and in low profitability after the implementation of CI. He concludes this is due to CI’s traditional justifications, those which focus on information that is available. That approach, in his mind, holds that “it is sufficient to access, collect and analyze information to improve the situation, to innovate, to protect, to gain performance and international competitiveness.”

Pascal concludes that

“information must not be the center of the universe of CI. Stronger operational considerations need to be used, including a defocusing complex approach of the ‘action to inform oneself’, more human oriented, not starting with information monitoring.”

He suggests an approach which starts by recognizing a state which he feels explains this problem: the MIR (the Methodological Resistance to Information). In other words, CI advocates should recognize that MIR, in his view a temporary state, has developed to deal with information overload, and exists and flourishes because it “actually saves time and can provoke critical discussions”.

In other words (my words), SMEs are inherently resistant to processes, including CI, that purport to offer them more information, more data, more to do, etc. To them, and to others, CI should be offering not more, but better – better information, better data, and actionable results.

It is the role of CI’s advocates, therefore, to make their case to SMEs in terms other than merely “you need more [good] information/intelligence and CI can provide that”. Interesting.

Your thoughts?

[1] ” Genealogy of the low breakthrough of the Competitive Intelligence discourse in French Small Companies: Epistemological mistakes and operational proposals” by Pascal Frion, defended in 2012, on December 7th, at the University of Poitiers (France). This thesis is available at http://www.acrie.fr/index.php/th%C3%A8se_nouveau_discours.html.


3 Comments on “Competitive intelligence and small businesses”

  1. […] In other words (my words), SMEs are inherently resistant to processes, including CI, that purport to offer them more information, more data, more to do, etc. To them, and to others, CI should be offering not more, but better – better information, better data, and actionable results.It is the role of CI’s advocates, therefore, to make their case to SMEs in terms other than merely “you need more [good] information/intelligence and CI can provide that”. ].  […]

  2. Nat Brooks says:

    One thing is certain John, owners of small to medium size businesses would have taken a nap trying to understand Frion’s insights. But all kidding aside, your take is absolutely spot on. Try to sell a small business owner a process, forget it. Sell them ideas and options for actions they can take to grow and win, they’ll listen.

    My thesis has always been that this is how you have to execute CI in big companies too. Otherwise you are constantly putting yourself at risk come the next restructuring program.

  3. […] In other words (my words), SMEs are inherently resistant to processes, including CI, that purport to offer them more information, more data, more to do, etc. To them, and to others, CI should be offering not more, but better – better information, better data, and actionable results.It is the role of CI’s advocates, therefore, to make their case to SMEs in terms other than merely “you need more [good] information/intelligence and CI can provide that”.].  […]


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