Competitive Intelligence and the Circular Economy

August 28, 2017

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog dealing with the “circular economy”. Since then, I have done some digging into this topic and conclude that (a) the circular economy is, not might be, coming, and (b) competitive intelligence as we know for firms that are a part of this will have to undergo major changes as a result.

One consequence is that I have written a longer piece on the subject, which you might enjoy reading. A brief extract may interest you:

“The rise of the CE [Circular Economy] will necessarily have major impacts on competitive and strategic intelligence. They appear to fall into 4 broad categories:

  • A change in the stature of CI.
  • A reduction in [CI] employment opportunities with firms in the CE, while increasing it in firms outside of the CE.
  • Greater opportunities for those trained in defensive intelligence.
  • A need for new skills and education for intelligence personnel working in the CE.”

The full paper is “Ten years gone, holdin’ on, ten years gone ”: The Circular Economy and the Evolutionary Trajectory of the Competitive Intelligence Profession.


It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

August 21, 2017.

 

On August 1, I wrote about a lawsuit in California involving LinkedIn and a firm that analyzes workforce data “scraped” from the public profiles posted on LinkedIn, noting its potential impact on competitive intelligence, among other things..

There has been a development in that case. News reports indicate that the federal judge overseeing the case ordered LinkedIn to remove “technical blocks” it had installed to prevent hiQ from getting access to the publicly accessible information on LinkedIn’s users.

That does not mean that the case is over and that firms and individuals, including CI firms and DIYers, have nothing to worry about. This order is a preliminary injunction, which means that it stays in force while the underlying case goes to trial. And, LinkedIn has said that it may challenge this decision in the interim.

Brian Fung’s Washington Post article has an interesting analysis of this still pending case.

Stay tuned.


The Big Picture (1 of 7)

August 18, 2017

Our new book, Competitive Intelligence Rescue – Getting It Right, is a powerful “how-to-do-it-better” book, the first guidebook on competitive intelligence that uses case studies to provide behind-the-scenes insights into how professionals can improve competitive intelligence processes. This unique approach uses real-world case studies (carefully masked) to expose common CI challenges and presents a simple methodology for spotting problems, understanding how to rectify each problem, educating others to bring about improvements in a process, and testing and validating that the changes are working.

Several cases there show the problems and issues in creating a new competitive intelligence unit. In our experiences, and by our, I mean Carolyn M. Vella, The Helicon Group’s Founding Partner and my significantly better half, there are typically 7 major elements involved in that process: financial and personnelguidelines, training, internal marketing, networkingcustomers and their needs, and CI products and feedback. For those who would like to transition from DIY to full-time status, or for those who are already there, it is important to see the big picture so I will deal quickly with each over the next weeks.

The first element I will comment on is key financial/personnel issues.

From the financial end, a CI unit, even if it is made up of only one person, requires a commitment to proper funding for the unit, including for training, internal marketing, and networking. Ideally, the CI unit should have its own stable funding. That allows management to compare costs with results and for the unit to plan further ahead than one quarter.

From the personnel end, some one must be in charge, even if that is only one of his/her duties. Team responsibility means no accountability. And, the individual in charge must have direct, personal access to all internal customers, particularly the most senior or important. Filtering their needs often means failure to deliver. Also, once this is a full-time position, the individual there must be able to see a career path after CI. No clear path up means looking for a way out.

This is not the first time I have commented on these issues. Check out these past blogs for more on this:

Likelihood of Success

Success is Fleeting

Another look at problems with competitive intelligence (part 1)


Social Media

August 8, 2017

Recently, I participated in a survey conducted by Contify – Is social media a source of Market Intelligence on companies? The firm sent me access to the results and has allowed me to share them with you. It is a fascinating study. You can access the document here.

Let me make a few comments on it and share a couple of my own observations on social media.

One of the key take-aways for me was that using social media to do research for CI assignments and\or to conduct regular monitoring can be useful. My observation is that you have to be willing to invest a lot of time, seeking the proverbial needle in the haystack. But, if it is there, it is worth it (in retrospect).

Another key take-away is Contify’s conclusion that social media tends to be more valuable when you are targeting a smaller firm:

“For a given period, small companies have lesser number of business updates to share, as compared to large companies. However, small companies are more likely to announce an important business update on social than release a press releases in traditional media.”

My experience is that when you are targeting a family-owned business, which tends to be smaller, social media can be quite helpful by identifying who is who, and by providing photos of everything from other family members to the inside of factories to new products to key customers. But, again there is the time issue.

Finally, always keep in mind that what you are seeing is only what someone else wants you to see – well, not specifically you, but rather some other audience or audiences. Consider LinkedIn. I am sure you can understand how useful LinkedIn can be to identify key personnel, to spot the occasional brag that can uncover new facts, and to identify potential interviewees.

But consider that each LinkedIn profile is written by that very person. So? I can tell you, from experience, that just because a profile says that person is working as the VP of Whatever Company may not be true, or at least current. People who have been laid off sometimes keep the page content static to enhance their chances of attracting a recruiter or otherwise improve their job-hunting chances.

The same is true for all social media – particularly messages and pictures on Facebook, as well as videos on YouTube. With all social media, while you may think it is a look inside a target, remember, seeing is not always believing.


Really Think About It

August 1, 2017

There is something going on in California (where else?) that could deeply impact competitive and strategic intelligence research. Here is a short summery, taken from a local Internet source:

“A San Francisco tech startup [HiQ Labs] is seeking to enjoin LinkedIn from restricting it from accessing public profile information…. [HiQ says it] collects and analyzes public profile information on LinkedIn to provide clients with insights about their employees. [HiQ] alleges LinkedIn denied it access to the public member profile portions of its website citing [a variety of federal and state laws]. [HiQ] alleges LinkedIn users’ public profile data belongs to the users and not [LinkedIn], but [LinkedIn] asserts it needs to protect member data.”

The case has already had one hearing where Harvard Constitutional Law Professor Laurence Tribe has reportedly argued that LinkedIn is violating HiQ’s constitutional rights by blocking access to LinkedIn’s public sites.

The case is much more complex than this, but it has great potential. Just ask yourself, how would you react if you found that LinkedIn, FaceBook, YouTube, and Twitter all blocked access by people or businesses they suspected were gathering competitive intelligence (or marketing leads or head-hunting data or political sentiments or …).

Your thoughts?