The Big Picture (7 of 7)

November 29, 2017

As I have noted, in our experience, there are usually 7 major issues involved in creating or adding a new competitive intelligence unit:

  • financial and personnel
  • guidelines
  • training
  • internal marketing
  • networking
  • customers and their needs, and
  • products and feedback.

In this blog, I have previously discussed the financial and personnel issues, guidelines , training, internal marketing, networking, as well as internal customers and their needs.

Several of the (masked) cases in Competitive Intelligence Rescue – Getting It Right, our newest book, deal with CI products and feedback as do several chapters in Bottom Line Competitive Intelligence. Here are a couple of the key high-level issues you should consider:

  • What products are you providing now? Who uses which products? Why don’t others use them?
  • Are you providing a newsletter? Is it really providing value to the readers or is it just a convenience for those readers?
  • Your product mix should change as your targets – and customers – change. And you should be changing your targets. They are not going to stay static just for your convenience.
  • Feedback from your customers is critical. Get it on a project by project basis, if possible, and, in any case, quarterly. And get it from ALL customers. If they are too busy to talk about your work, how much time do they have to absorb and use it?
  • Feedback should include reviewing what products to add as well as which ones to stop providing.

Also check out this past blog. among others: Answers and Questions.


The Big Picture (5 of 7)

October 17, 2017

In our experience, there are usually 7 major issues involved in creating or adding a new competitive intelligence unit:

  • financial and personnel
  • guidelines
  • training
  • internal marketing
  • networking
  • customers and their needs, and
  • products and feedback.

I have already discussed the financial and personnel issues, guidelines , training  and internal marketing.

One of the cases in Competitive Intelligence Rescue – Getting It Right, our new book, deals with internal networking and CI, as does the more technical chapter 6 in Proactive Intelligence: the Successful Executive’s Guide to Intelligence. Here are a couple of key high-level issues:

  • Internal networking is a way, like training, to continue to bring CI to everyone’s attention. That can be critical during the start-up period of a CI program when its impact, even existence, may not be evident.
  • Networking can multiply the effectiveness of a CI team or program. It creates and maintain a quick connection to people inside of the company who may have access to critical bits of data. With networks in place, they may feel that there is someone that they can “alert”.
  • Members of the sales team can be valuable members of your network. However, it is not unusual for managers to object to this, on the basis that it “wastes” the time of the sales personnel. Do not try and make the sales force into a CI data collecting force. Rather, provide members with some help so that they feel freer to reciprocate.

Also check out  some of my past blogs, including Tag – You’re It! and 10 Commandments for DIYers.


The Big Picture (4 of 7)

Our newest book, Competitive Intelligence Rescue – Getting It Right, has several cases that highlight issues in creating or adding a new competitive intelligence unit. In our experience, there are usually 7 major elements involved in either process:

  • financial and personnel
  • guidelines
  • training
  • internal marketing
  • networking
  • customers and their needs, and
  • products and feedback.

To help you see the big picture, I will deal briefly with each issue over time. I have already discussed the financial and personnel issues, guidelines and training. One of the cases in Competitive Intelligence Rescue – Getting It Right highlights issues in marketing CI to employees and officers. Here are a couple of high-level issues:

  • Internal marketing of CI is critical to the development of a top CI program that supports critical decisions and has, and maintains, the support of the entire organization. Support means that the CI program has both needed time and funding on a continuing basis.
  • This requires that management provide access to all employees, particularly to senior management and the sales force, as a part of its, hopefully, enthusiastic support.
  • Marketing involves educating all employees not just internal customers, about CI and its role in decision-making at the organization. This will foster the development of cooperation from customer-facing employees, potentially a great source off raw data, and a continuing by-in by management. It also can help to block management requests that, unknowingly, might force CI data collectors to cross ethical or even legal lines.
  • Internal marketing also makes it easier to develop internal networks, something I will cover later. It encourages the generation of important bits of data from employees who “never knew that anyone was interested in that”.
  • Finally, it serves to alert all employees and officers to the existence of CI efforts being used against them, making defensive efforts easier to start and maintain.

For thoughts on related issues, check out my past blogs, including these two:

DIY and Silos

Tag – You’re It!


The Big Picture (3 of 7)

September 25, 2017

Our newest book, Competitive Intelligence Rescue – Getting It Right, has several cases that highlight issues in creating or adding a new competitive intelligence unit. In our experience, there are usually 7 major elements involved in that process:

  • financial and personnel
  • guidelines
  • training
  • internal marketing
  • networking
  • customers and their needs, and
  • products and feedback.

I will deal briefly with each issue over time. I have already discussed the financial and personnel issues as well as guidelines.

Here are my comments (brief) on some major training issues:

  • Every member of the CI team as well as ambitious DIYers, should get some sort of CI training at least once a year.  That can be almost anything: attending a local association’s chapter meeting, a national conference, or a commercial workshop, so long as CI is the main topic of the session(s) you attend.
  • Communication skills deserve training – internal or external. Your analysis is not worth much if you cannot communicate its importance and significance to others.
  • Regular training, say every three years, on legal and ethical issues is a must. If you can get someone from your legal team to participate. Also, the CI team should be conducting training on these issues for its internal customers. Aware customers make it easier to stay on the straight and narrow.
  • Over time, additional training on various analytical techniques will not only upgrade your personal skill set, but it will help you in determining your internal customers’ needs, in selecting the right targets, and in selecting and managing your Ci products and outputs. Aim at doing this every couple of years.
  • General management issues cannot be overlooked. They include things like succession planning, assessing employee performance, creating and managing networks, and well as on managing your internal clients’ expectations. Hopefully your firm already offers these to you and your peers. Take them.

This is not the first time I have written on these issues: Carolyn Vella and dealt with them in The Manager’s Guide to Competitive Intelligence. Also, please check out my past blogs under the Category “Education and Training’, and look at these three, for more on this:

CI Skills and Education

Lessons for CI from Games

How can you learn something new?


The Big Picture (2 of 7)

September 5, 2017

Our new book (by our, I mean Carolyn M. Vella, The Helicon Group’s Founding Partner and my significantly better half), Competitive Intelligence Rescue – Getting It Right, is a powerful “how-to-do-it-better” book, that 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, and testing and validating that the changes are working.

Several of the cases there show the issues in creating or adding a new competitive intelligence unit. In our experience, there are typically 7 major elements involved in that process: financial and personnel, guidelines, training, internal marketing, networking, customers and their needs, and products and feedback. It is important to see the big picture, so I will deal briefly with each issue over the next weeks.

I have already discussed the financial and personnel issues.

Here, I will comment on key guideline issues. By guidelines, I mean both ethical/legal standards and mission statements/job descriptions.

Very few CI teams, or even individual analysts, are ready to issue a statement setting out the ethical principles that will govern the new process. Too many just default to adopting the Code of Ethics of Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP), either by reference or by just copying the text.

Do this only as a stopgap. The best way to do heave the right ethical and legal standards is to work with your company’s legal counsel, inside or out, to develop this. That way, it will reflect what you will be doing, as well as the environment in which you will be doing it. Doing it this way has the additional benefit of educating your legal counsel about competitive intelligence, so that they understand it better, to serve you and your company better.

The same is true of mission statements and job descriptions. The more specific, the better. These should be developed in cooperation with your internal clients. That will also help advance the likelihood that they will use what you provide.

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

Company Policies on Collecting Competitive Intelligence (part 1)

Company Policies on Collecting Competitive Intelligence (part 2)

Company Policies on Collecting Competitive Intelligence (part 3)


It’s Out!

July 27, 2017

We have just received the authors’ copies of Competitive Intelligence Rescue – Getting It Right from our publisher. This is the latest book from Carolyn M. Vella ( Helicon’s founding partner and my significantly better half) and me. We are very excited about it.

It takes you behind the scenes of CI rescues – case studies of efforts to help clients get it right. It is an easy read, but filled with useful tips.

For more complete information on the book, you can go to  http://abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=A5235C. It will let you see a little from the book.

You can preorder from Amazon.com now, at  https://www.amazon.com/Competitive-Intelligence-Rescue-Getting-Right/dp/1440851603/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501184488&sr=8-1&keywords=vella+rescue.

Enjoy!


Free DIY CI Webinar Posted

June 9, 2017

The Competitive Intelligence Division of the Special Libraries Association has posted my DIY CI webinar at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4bwGY2DY8M . This free webinar is the one I noted in my blog last week (https://diy-ci.com/2017/06/02/free-do-it-yourself-competitive-intelligence-webinar/ ).

The 1 hour session attracted over 300 registrants. Enjoy!