What you should read to learn more about competitive intelligence

Updated August 29, 2017

Sometimes, people want to know what they can read to learn more about competitive intelligence.

Let me first send you to a very good article on how-to-do-it: Sara Lavenduski, “Competitive Intelligence: Smart Ways to One-Up the Competition”, Supplier Global Resource, May/June 2015. It starts on page 96.

Then, let me give you a short list of books, all of which still in print. I have excluded our most recent books, Competitive Intelligence Rescue – Getting It Right and Proactive Intelligence: The Successful Executive’s Guide to Intelligence, since they are both mentioned elsewhere on this site. To make it easy to locate these books and to get additional information about them, I am linking this website to each one’s publisher’s page. These books are, of course, also available through most bookstores and online services. In fairness to the authors/editors, they are listed in chronological order, from the newest to the oldest:

AFIO’s Guide to the Study of Intelligence, Peter C. Oleson, Editor. Association of Former Intelligence Officers, Falls Church, VA, afio.com, 2016, 740 pages, $95.00.

This is the hard copy release of the free online version. It covers CI, industrial espionage,as well as governmental intelligence, with each chapter written by experts in each area. It now includes more than 70 articles.

Win/Loss Analysis: How to Capture and Keep the Business You Want by Ellen Naylor. Park Hill Press. 2016, 208 pages.

Ellen Naylor here deals specifically with its CI’s application in a vital and impactful area – win/loss analysis. Her vision is that win/loss analysis, when done right,  is actually a form of directed CI.

Business and Competitive Analysis: Effective Application of New and Classic Methods by Craig S. Fleisher and Babette E. Bensoussan, 2015, 590 pages, FT Press, $89.99.

This book will help business decision-makers understand how to select and use business analysis tools more effectively. It is a well-done piece of work, making simple the complex, and making approachable sometimes unapproachable tools that all those involved with competitive analysis.

The Complete Guide to Competitive Intelligence (Fifth Edition) by Kirk Tyson. Leading Edge Publications, 2010.

While this book is derived from the workbook that Kirk Tyson developed for (and from) his global workshops over many years, it has an easy style, walking the reader through the entire process of CI. It includes direct, easily understood lessons throughout, such as “No published information should be accepted at face value…Published information should not be used for intelligence purposes until it has been confirmed with non-published sources.”

Competitive Intelligence: Fast, Cheap & Ethical by Rob Duncan. Authorhouse, 2008, 136 pages.

This is a part of the growing movement to bring CI to the non-CI professional.

Competitive Intelligence: A Framework for Web-Based Analysis and Decision-Making by Conor Vibert. Thomson South-western. 2004, 254 pages.

Although presented as an anthology edited by a leading professor, it is filled with important, direct, easy-to-read essays. The most important contributions deal with how to find good information among the vast amount of noise and bad information on the web, as well as how to protect your own company from the competitive intelligence efforts of others.

Early Warning: Using Competitive Intelligence to Anticipate Market Shifts, Control Risk, and Create Powerful Strategies by Ben Gilad. AMACOM. 2004, 268 pages.

This book takes the reader on a journey through actual cases, naming names, and showing how competitive intelligence really works. Using details often provided by the companies themselves, it draws out its important lessons in a deceptively casual style.

Smart Services: Competitive Information Strategies, Solution and Success Stories for Service Businesses by Deborah C. Sawyer. Information Today, Inc. 2002, 236 pages.

A very readable look at issues involving competitive intelligence in service industries. In addition to numerous examples showing how competitive intelligence in the service sector is different from that in other sectors, the author also identifies “internal “competitors that impact service businesses.

Millennium Intelligence: Understanding and Conducting Competitive Intelligence in the Digital Age by Jerry P. Miller and the Business Intelligence Braintrust. CyberAge Books. 2000, 276 pages.

This anthology provides a fresh, non-technical look at management issues in competitive intelligence. With over a dozen contributors, it talks directly to those who will use or supervise the production of competitive intelligence.

Protecting Your Company Against Competitive Intelligence by John J. McGonagle and Carolyn M. Vella. Quorum Books. 1998, 176 pages.

“… [A] provocative look at the other side of [competitive intelligence], exploring how you can protect your own firms from competitor CI efforts….All told, McGonagle and Vella have produced a fine resource for anyone interested in keeping rivals from obtaining the competitive advantage that systematic competitive intelligence can produce.” – From Competitive Intelligence Review, Vol. 9(1), January-March, 1998.

Competitive Intelligence: From Black Ops to Boardrooms – How Businesses Gather, Analyze, and Use Information to Succeed in the Global Marketplace by Larry Kahaner. Simon & Schuster. 1996, 300 pages.

Written by a journalist, this book is filled with great examples of how, where and why competitive intelligence works. What makes it work is that Kahaner uses examples with real, recognizable names.

Real●World Intelligence by Herbert E. Meyer. Storm King Press. 1991 (New Edition), 102 pages.

This short work is by a former top intelligence official who came to government service from the print media. A quick read, it is direct, non-technical, and explains competitive intelligence to the uninitiated. It is still a must-read. 

If you want more specific suggestions on what to read, please just post a note and tell me about your questions.


2 Comments on “What you should read to learn more about competitive intelligence”

  1. […] What you should read to learn more about competitive intelligence (updated 2/24/2015) […]

  2. […] authors also provide a link to their suggested list of competitive intelligence […]


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