13 Apr 12 Selling competitive intelligence internally
CI teams cannot be efficient, effective and successful without a buy-in from their co-workers at all levels – senior, middle and junior.
CI teams face a dual challenge in terms of getting an internal buy-in within an organization. First, they need to show a good ROI to the senior management in order to justify their very existence. Unless senior management perceives their value in helping the company meet its business objectives, they will a) not be consulted b) not be respected c) not get support (and funding and resources) required for creating effective CI for the organization. But establishing the ROI of a CI team takes time, as the CI process as well as capabilities evolve over time. During this time, the CI function needs an internal champion or a sponsor who can encourage the organization to support the team.
Second, given that the organization itself is a rich source of information and insights, the CI team needs to be able to elicit it from the employees . Further, the CI team needs these inputs to flow to them, not once or twice, but on an ongoing basis. For example, the CI team may want to request regular inputs on customers and markets from the sales force.
What can the CI team do to ensure that they get the decision-makers to take notice of what they can offer to the organization? And what can they do to get all employees in the organization to contribute what they know?
Competitive intelligence practitioners who attended the SCIP India Chapter meeting held in Mumbai on 12th April 2012 discussed precisely these issues. The topic for the evening was “How to set up a competitive intelligence function in your organization”. The attendees included executives from companies such as Tata Communications, Oracle, Syntel, Cipla, Novartis, SKF and Galaxy Surfactants.
Here are some best practices that were highlighted during the discussion, for getting an internal buyin for CI at all levels in the organisation:
- Go for quick wins to establish the value of your function with the key users of CI. A good way to do this to concentrate on one or two key pain points of the organization to start with and address only those. Teaming with the line functions when they are in a firefighting mode firmly establishes CI team as being on the same side as the business.
- Make those who provide inputs for CI, co-authors of the final deliverable. In other words give them credit and visibility in the organization. Also, seek their feedback on the intelligence you have created irrespective of whether you actually decide to incorporate it or not.
- Persuade the management to create reward or incentive schemes for the employees to consistently give inputs to the CI team
- Build rapport on a personal level, with key employees who can provide valuable inputs to the CI team. Also build rapport with the users of intelligence in order to get clearer briefs and feedback on intelligence delivered.
Do you have any other best practices that have worked in your organization? Do share them with us…