08 Aug 12 Why a CI framework is not dispensable
In most companies in India, competitive intelligence is not primarily done by CI professionals. Many functions are interested in competitive intelligence. Sales, marketing, strategy, product development, are the common ones. But finance, HR , procurement and others also need it. They all generally gather competitive information as part of their regular functional roles .
The users of the intelligence (and analysis) are heads of these functions, business heads, and of course the CEO.
It is perfectly OK for organizations to not have separate CI functions. But what are the drawbacks of not having one?
Firstly, there could be duplication of effort, where multiple people in the company are going out and gathering the same information.
Secondly, different functions may not effectively leverage the information the other functions have. The HR executive who interacts with candidates from rival companies, the procurement department that talks to vendors and suppliers, the delivery executive who has friends working with the competition, the sales person who talks to customers and potential customers, senior management that attends industry networking events, and so on, all have tidbits of information on the competitive environment. If put together, they can provide rich insights.
However, the people who have the information are not sure how useful it really is, and where and how it can be used. Those doing the analysis (whichever function they belong to) are not sure exactly where the information resides and how they can access it.
But what if everyone in the organization defined their intelligence needs clearly? And then translated these into specific information that they are looking for? All employees would then know whether what they have found out is relevant anyone. They could pool the nuggets of relevant information in one place, that could then be easily accessed by the users.
This is precisely what a competitive intelligence framework does. It comprises of the identified needs of the organization and a structure and process for satisfying the needs. It brings together all the decision makers and functions in the organization to create a unified system for meeting the CI needs of the organization as a whole.
Without a framework, you don’t get the intelligence you need and/or, the cost of getting it is higher than it needs to be.