Welcome to the [R]evolutionPosted: March 7, 2018
March 5, 2018
“Got a revolution, got to revolution.” Jefferson Airplane, Revolution (1969)
in our new book, Competitive Intelligence Rescue: Getting It Right (Praeger 2017), Carolyn Vella and I relate a case dealing with DIY CI (chapter 8). . Let me give you a couple of my thoughts on DIY CI.
Remember that the CI universe today has three basic research and analysis epicenters:
- CI professionals within an enterprise (including adjuncts such as researchers sited in libraries/information centers)
- Independent CI professionals who consult for/research for that and other enterprises
- Internal DIYers.
My own perception is that the first group is static or growing slowly, the second is stable or slightly declining, and that the third is growing steadily. Compared with 10 or 20 years ago, the existence of DIY CI marks an important evolution, if not revolution, in CI. Those growth trends, if they continue, may fundamentally change the CI “business”.
One plus from this is that it shows an increasing use of CI in enterprises, coupled with better access to end-users, particularly since the end-user in DIY CI is the person who generates the CI. It should also mean that the time between a perceiving a need for CI and its creation could fall.
However, there are also some minuses:
- Those producing the CI will necessarily have narrower experiences in producing it, since they deal only with one client. That could result in a loss of professional perspective or even the failure to develop it.
- The use of elicitation interviews will necessarily fall, thus diminishing use of a proven, valuable primary research resource.
What does this mean? One consequence could be that CI degenerate into several subspecialties where experience and developments are not easily transferable, such as IT CI, pharma CI, B2C CI, etc. Another consequence could be that CI could morph into a discipline that will not be able to look forward as easily as is it can look back and look at the present. Why? Because data on future actions and intentions lies with people to a significantly greater degree than in published sources. A third could be the separation of early warning processes from everyday CI, in part due to the lack of necessary broad perspectives among internal personnel.
What to do to keep these trends from “damaging” CI? (Sorry, I know that is a loaded question, but that is how I see it):
- Institute regular awareness sessions and focused training both on producing CI and on using it. To avoid inbreeding, vary the sources for that training. That is use insiders, then external resources, and vary the outside providers over time.
Establish a stable of outside CI professionals pre-approved for future assignments. Rotation among them avoids having them buying into your firm’s blinders. Also, use one or more of them to regularly review your CI processes and work products to enrich your program with their broader perspectives. Interestingly, this is a flip on the CI audit that was used in the early days of CI before initiating a new CI program. Now the audit would be of the system as it operates and not of the potential need for CI and existing internal resources