Small Businesses and CIPosted: September 21, 2015
September 21, 2015
I recently received a copy of a thesis titled “Do Small Enterprises Study Their Competitors?”
That has always been a question in CI – do small businesses really develop and use CI? Of course, those of us in CI believe that they should, but have not documented that. This thesis now provides at least a partial answer.
Dr. Barendregt divided his small business targets into those with “strong”, “medium” and “weak” positions in their market. Some of the findings of this in-depth research are quite provocative. Here are two I found interesting:
- Small businesses with “strong” positions in their market placed a “low importance on [their] competitors”. So they are “neutral or negative about the usefulness” of CI directed against competitors. Instead, they study new technology and other strategic subjects. They use the highest number of sources, including personal sources, external sources, and “external direct data sources” when developing CI.
- On the other hand, small businesses with “weak” positions“ placed “high importance on competitors”, partially reflected in the fact that they cooperate with them more than those in “strong” positions. These businesses focus their CI on “tactical competitor subjects and are positive about [its] usefulness.” However, they use the lowest number of sources. Interestingly, the thesis also reports that they are “also responsible for most of the discovered unethical and illegal data collection practices.”
I contacted the author, Dr. Barendregt, and he graciously pointed out a few other findings, again about small businesses (enterprises) and CI:
“1. [T]he successful companies in the market use CI to spot and lure away the best suppliers of their competitors – thus becoming stronger and more successful themselves,
2. [U]nless a company has a competitive positioning in a market, studying competitors won’t help them survive in the long-term,
3. [T]he best data sources are direct contacts with the competitors”.
So now we know a little more about small businesses and CI.
 By Dr. Arie T. Barendregt, RM, MBA, 13 November 2010 at Kingston University, London. Copies and further information can be obtained directly from Dr. Barendregt at firstname.lastname@example.org.