Can Secondary Research Alone Produce CI?Posted: August 11, 2016
August 11, 2016
One of the weaknesses in DIY and other internally produced CI is the lack of data from interviews, particularly elicitation interviews. Unfortunately, there are a lot of reasons why individuals employed by the end-user of the CI end up trying to generate CI from secondary and internal primary sources only. Here are several of the most common:
Some firms have formal policies banning virtually all – or all – direct communications with competitors. The rationale for these policies is to avoid any future issues about anti-competitive activities, such a price-fixing or market allocation schemes. But this kind of rule stops even such harmless ploys as calling customer service and asking about the availability of a new product – which is its job to tell you about!
Most internal CI staff, and virtually all DIYers, have little or no real training in, and little real experience in, interviewing, much less in the vital area of elicitation interviews. That means they generally avoid interviews, or, if they attempt them, they do not do them very well.
The sales force cannot or will not communicate regularly with those needing or generating CI. Why? Because of the attitude that this “is not their job” and they can see no way that doing this will help them in doing their only job – which is to sell. That often cuts off one easy source of some external primary data.
Some internal CI staff, such as those with library science and related backgrounds, feel most comfortable in the world of secondary, rather than primary, research. They are very good there, but there is more to be found by primary research that they do not try to access.
That means that a lot of internally generated CI is based primarily, or wholly, on secondary research. Does that mean it is not really CI? No – well, maybe.
If this research generates actionable intelligence, and it is communicated as such, then it is CI. But it is necessarily limited. Secondary research is great – up to a point. It can help you (or whoever is doing it) to determine where the competition is and where it is coming from.
However, taking that research and trying to determine where the competition is going and what it plans to do will inevitably produce poor results over time. And the further into the future the end-users of CI want to peer, the less useful the CI produced based solely on secondary research will be.
That is because the data allowing your analysis to determine where the competition is going and what it is going to do – the most powerful kind of CI – rarely lies documents, newspaper articles, web pages, or Facebook pages. It is still in the minds of people. And the only way to get that data is to talk with outsiders. So, if you want to make sure that the CI that you produce, rely on, or both, is up to that task, you must do primary research in addition to solid secondary research to develop it. There are no other options.