DIY and Silos

April 1, 2016

I am in the process of reading a very challenging book, Big Boys, Big Egos and Strategic intelligence by Joseph HA.M. Rodenberg and Antoinette Rijsenbilt (2015). You will see a review of it when I have finished it.

I was taken by a discussion in the middle of the book as it may apply to the DIYers. The authors divide the competitive intelligence continuum as they see it into 4 overlapping parts:

  • Competitive data collection
  • Industry & competitive analysis
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Strategic intelligence.

The authors note that the first 2 are the “responsibility of departments/individuals dealing with market research, marketing services, marketing intelligence, market intelligence, marketing, customer insights, market insights, and other nice buzzwords.”[1]

To me, and I suspect to my readers, this also includes DIYers, that is, those who are not CI professionals, but need and provide the CI necessary for their own work. The authors’ observation about these people, operating within the intelligence continuum, applies equally to all DIYers. They observe that “[s]enior managers are not really reached [with their intelligence].” In other words, DIYers may produce actionable intelligence – but keep it to themselves.

To truly benefit their team and organization, the DIYers must find a way to share their CI insights with others in the firm, particularly those engaged in providing CI on a full-time basis. They must not silo that intelligence. While what they DIYer has found may seem fragmentary to the full-time CI professional, it does represent the result of diligent research and analysis which can make the full-time CI professional’s job easier and ultimately benefit the entire firm.

Let me give you an example from my own experience. A very large local firm had its engineering research team co-located at its local manufacturing facility, a few miles from headquarters. A corporate manager, seeking to bring CI into the firm, started an intelligence audit – he began to interview key potential customers and internal data sources.

Early on, he spoke with the director of engineering research. The research director asked why the firm need to set up a CI function. The corporate manager said, well, in case our largest competitor decides to get into applying an emerging technology he named, “We need to know that”. The director replied, “They are already looking into that”. When asked “Are you sure?”, he explained that he knew this from the direction of technical papers presented and published by the competitor’s researchers and from job interviews with employees seeking to leave the competitor or who had already left.

The corporate manager asked, in amazement, why the director did not tell anyone at the corporate level about this. The engineering research director’s response: “I did not know anyone else was interested.” Silos.

[1] Page. 113.


One Comment on “DIY and Silos”

  1. […] I am in the process of reading a very challenging book, Big Boys, Big Egos and Strategic intelligence by Joseph HA.M. Rodenberg and Antoinette Rijsenbilt (2015). I was taken by a discussion in the middle of the book as it may apply to the DIYers. The authors divide the competitive intelligence continuum as they see it into 4 overlapping parts: Competitive data collection; Industry & competitive analysis; Competitive intelligence; Strategic intelligence.  […]


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