| Jens Thieme views and discussions | Jens Thieme views and discussions | Jens Thieme views and discussions

SCIA Round Tabel

Process Integration

At the May 20, 2008 SCIA (Swiss Competitive Intelligence) event we tried a new, interactive format with our members which has proven very successful indeed.

Hans Hedin of the Global Intelligence Association (GIA) introduced the recent global study on the state of competitive intelligence in international corporations.
He also focused on the evolutions matrix of competitive intelligence functions which visualizes various states of development of classic market intelligence functions and activities such as competitive intelligence processes, competitive intelligence organization, competitive intelligence culture, competitive intelligence scope, competitive intelligence deliverables, etc.

I have successfully used the matrix in my developments of the competitive intelligence function at Ciba and presented the findings along with Hans on May 29, 2008 at the GIA Helsinki Customer Summit.

A subsequent roundtable discussion on process integration moved the event into an even more interactive format which has proven very satisfying for the participating SCIA members. Following a summary of the discussion:

Business processes integration are crucial for any competitive intelligence (CI) operation. Within the discussion between the SCIA members in the room and the panelists Hans Hedin, Marc Limacher, Maarit Seppä and Jens Thieme plus Kurt Kobel as the moderator and facilitator of the discussion some of the following remarks were being made and we would like to trigger a discussion among our members on their individual experience in that regard.

- Planning and process integration can be vital indicators for education needs as they might unveil skill gaps in implementation (Thieme)
- Some or many processes within an enterprice might not even be known as such. It might be worthwhile to visualize and communicate to make sure their importance and rightful existence are supported (Seppä)
- Processes within a Marketing & Sales organization are highly visibly and strongly required to carry CI activities, this visibility can be taken advantage of (Limacher)
- A good option for CI process intagtration offer controling/finance operations. Investor relation could host the intelligence activities in such a setup as observed in some major Swiss financial companies (Hedin)
- Sales force involvement to close the communication feedback loop and enrich the intelligence base are crucial and could/should be secured by processes as well (Kobel/Limacher)
- Networking activities need to be part of any CI operation and processes can help to enforce networking as a business tool (Kobel)
- Differences across various industries were stressed as well, especially in the light of varying product life cycles (Limacher)
- Crucial bridging between group services and business areas such as R&D and Marketing & Sales and any other relevant intelligence-driven decision level need to be supported by cross-departmental processes and planning tools (Thieme)

Audience responses, contributions:
- As CI develops more and more, in-depth expertise is required and process integration can only be helpful
- CI needs to be driven via key champions within an organization, doubling the effort with process integration would be a plus
- If there were cross-departmental processes it might be possible to get to know what new recruits could add to the company's intelligence base, HR was mentioned several times as a resource for CI
- In order to support intelligence flow something like an internal exchange breakfast was mentioned as a succesful format
- A concern was discussed: "What if the CI Ferrari is not recognized as such but as a bicycle at best?" - this might be an education issue to management!

Another topic area that was discussed very lively was raised by the moderator Kurt Kobel: "How formal does CI need to be?", some ideas and responses:
- There will always be a fair share of ad-hoc activities in CI but it also depends on existing processes and product life cycles (Thieme)
- It seems to be important to embedd CI into already existing processes as much as possible (make friends with process owners, mutual support) (Thieme)
- Follow up on key intelligence requirements! (Hedin, Seppä)
- Deliver something to intelligence owners to establish two-way flow (Limacher)
- A seat at the table is crucial (audience)

With this recap we would like to invite you to contribute more ideas and kick off a discussion among SCIA members.

Many thanks for making SCIA such a lively, great sharing experience, looking forward to your feedbacks and your personal appearance at one of our next events.