thie.me | Jens Thieme views and discussions

thie.me | Jens Thieme views and discussions

thie.me | Jens Thieme views and discussions

Starting a CI Function

Co-Author Jens Thieme

Starting a Competitive Intelligence Function is the third volume in the Topics in CI series, published by SCIP’s Competitive Intelligence Foundation. The general topic covers the concept and practice of defining the organization’s internal requirements and setting up the environment for an effective competitive intelligence function. Kenneth Sawka is the editor.

As the co-author among many bright Competitive Intelligence professionals I would like to point you towards this collection of wisdom of Competitive Intelligence leaders sharing their experience in building and improving Competitive Intelligence departments and functions.

 

The Competitive Intelligence Foundation (a SCIP Body of Knowledge Organization) released this book End 2008 and I would like to grant you access to the chapter I have contributed to the work. You can order the book "Starting a Competitive Intelligence Function" - ISBN: 978-0-9771825-4-1 here.

STARTING A COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE FUNCTION

 

Knowingly or not, all companies gather and use competitive intelligence. In the absence of a formal competitive intelligence unit or function, as larger organizations evolve over time the intelligence tasks become scattered across departments, are not fully integrated with each other, and do not have common processes. Only intelligence-conscious companies integrate and adjust their CI functions along with their organizational changes.

 

When there is no centralized CI driving force in place, the situation might look like this:

 

  • Smaller intelligence tasks are embedded in separate business units.
  • Large, strategic intelligence projects operate behind closed doors of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), finance or strategy offices and the executive branch.
  • Some non-core units never engage in any structured intelligence efforts.
  • Various functions such as finance, legal, communications, marketing, and sales never discuss synergies in their intelligence efforts despite using similar sources for similar goals.
  • Intelligence training is done ad hoc (if at all) and no mutual standards for CI techniques and tools are created. Each activity addresses a particular individual’s own needs.

 

The result? Inefficiencies, redundancies, missed opportunities, and business strategies and tactics that do not fully consider the competitive environment. Sound familiar? What this describes is the classical information-disconnect that occurs more commonly now in large corporations than those same companies would like to admit. Yet, it seems extremely hard to convince organizations to address this issue.

 

This case study reflects on a traditional, global industry corporation headquartered in Switzerland. It shows the efforts taken within the first 18 months of a global CI revampproject designed to replace a fragmented intelligence structure by a new hybrid solution. Managed by corporate marketing, this project reached deep into the business areas, secured support, and utilized in-depth business expertise.

 

HOW FRAGMENTATION DEVELOPS

 

Having fragmented intelligence activities does not necessarily indicate that an organization conducts weak or flawed intelligence efforts. Our company has produced some outstanding intelligence over the decades using great tools and resulting in solid business value.

 

With a company history of more than 250 years as one of the pioneers in synthetic dyestuffs and later many additional specialty chemicals and pharmaceuticals, our company competed various M&A events and consolidation cycles. These adjustments, divestments. and acquisitions of both organizational units and technologies resulted in operational and organizational fragmentations. Many of them make perfect sense when considered from portfolio focus and business model priorities.

 

Current industries and markets served are as diverse as plastics, agriculture, construction, fibers, electronics, personal care products, lubricants, and fuels to name a few. Our core competences and market leadership include colors, optical brightening, UV-protection, antioxidants treatments and many others – all with practical overlap and synergies into many of the mentioned industries and end applications.

 

In the past, a separated product and market focus of the market centers and sales teams did not allow for mutual processes and centralized functions. Therefore intelligence efforts grew at varying rates and depths within individual business units. Different tools and techniques created fragmented intelligence when using similar sources. Multiple efforts and duplicate spending commonly occurred across these business units and the service departments (finance, research and development (R&D), M&A, legal, communications/media relations, etc.) due to a lack of cross referencing and synergy in these tasks.

 

Finally staff reductions, capacity shifts, and strategic re-focusing created an environment where many disciplines and tasks enjoyed superior attention. Intelligence activities were conducted in job unionby managers who needed to simultaneously succeed in many other important goals. As a result the company found itself challenged with issues like:

 

•1. Duplicate efforts and purchases.

•2. Low priority on intelligence.

•3. Only focus on strategic intelligence.

 

Challenge 1: Market studies and competitive analysis were used and disseminated within single business units or locations without sharing material, methods or results.

 

One of the core complaints from marketers about intelligence was the lack of a unified and well managed source where all market studies and other information could be accessed. They invested much effort and time in trying to identify who owned what study, what other material could be used, and if certain information was internally available.

 

Additionally, the organization wasted scarce monetary resources purchasing duplicate resources. At times marketing managers in one part of the world purchased material that had just been delivered from the same vendor to another regional office for the same horrendous price. Colleagues spent countless hours and fees online finding information that was already available elsewhere in the organization, and paid for duplicate newsletter subscriptions and external database access.

 

Challenge 2: Some managers focused solely on basic disciplines like sales while neglecting marketing activities including market intelligence development.

 

Difficult business cycles call for drastic measures such as maintaining a sole focus on the activities that directly generate revenue. Whenever the bottom line numbers needed major improvements our company (similar to many others) focused on increasing sales while reducing support functions such as intelligence work. Understandably the call for action leaves behind neglect for support disciplines that are not considered (rightly or wrongly) battle-winning.

 

Challenge 3: Major intelligence resources were solely focused and concentrated on strategic projects or incidents.

 

Mergers & acquisitions, business plan creation, or strategy planning received superior support in terms of intelligence capacity. Mostly marketers and other senior staff from business units that were impacted by current developments contributed capacity and expertise to the strategic effort. Oftentimes external resources were involved in very large projects as well.

 

Only intelligence work was conducted independently from any other similar effort within the company. Those involved did not share tools and techniques beyond the one single group that produced the intelligence for that particular project. After completing the expertise and capacity imploded again, eliminating the possibility of further development and recycling efforts.

 

Also, due to a lack of unified templates for business plans and projects that required intelligence content, any intelligence activity was started from scratch using different methods every time. Sources kept being picked at random without having a mutual strategy in place or achieving negotiated purchasing power.

 

RECOGNIZING THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH

 

For an organization which focuses on many goals within their chosen activities, it is difficult to neutrally look into the efficiency and effectiveness of most routines and standard disciplines. Intelligence is no exception. You will very likely find senior managers in any organization who are convinced that the intelligence they receive is just what they need.

Compared to best practice many of the intelligence products that satisfy evolutionary expectations do not hold up to state-of-the-art intelligence deliverables.

 

They might not know how much effort was consumed and that they might not be deploying state-of-the-art and best practice intelligence techniques and tools. The managers simply felt well-enough informed to back their decisions. This group of managers needs to be convinced otherwise. In fact this effort is be an ongoing one.

 

Hint: A proven analogy of intelligence value and its position within the group of intellectual drivers is driving a vehicle in heavy traffic. While the gauges visualize the current state (internal Business Intelligence), the rear view mirror shows where you are coming from (experience, knowledge management), the look out the side windows provides an important snap shot of your external environment (news clippings, media coverage) while the forward view through the wind shield is similar to your market and competitive intelligence. You process all elements in combination to make decisions on speed, direction, and resources at play.

 

We focused our attention on a second group of managers, the ones who had an understanding about and experience with some existing intelligence shortcomings. Some of them were even very outspoken about improving our intelligence efforts. This strategy worked very well as together we identified very real issues we wanted to address with suggestions and ideas to convince the first group.

 

We also understood that some managers simply didn’t understand what modern CI is all about and what value it can return. Basic information was often used as it was processed intelligence. It was very apparent that they had a lack of context as well as a lack of sustained, positive impact. But this group of individuals who was not eager or even capable of recognizing that the issues existed, let alone supporting a major change.

 

The true issues we did identify with the help of open minded marketers and executives were quickly gathered and presented quite a nice potential for savings and improvements without having to analyze too much. You might recognize several of these blind spots within your own organization (see Sidebar 1).

 

Independent Operations

 

As mentioned the company’s evolution left many intelligence units operating independently from each other. Not surprisingly. Crucial information didn’t connect from one business unit to another even if they were synergistic in one way or the other. For example one business unit produces, markets, and sells an ingredient chemical compound for a certain end article while another business unit produces, markets and sells a finishing chemical for the very same end market product.

 

Both business units work independently from each other but within same industries and markets so sharing of information about this external competitive environment seems logical. Only it hardly ever happens. The marketers who conduct intelligence work and sales staffs from both groups never meet.

 

On top of this difficult situation, two sales representatives from these two business units call on the same customer who produces the common end article. Sales came to the customer equipped with differing sets of intelligence, which varied in quality and quantity. Even worse, in one case a finishing chemical used for surface treatment couldn’t develop its benefits for the customer because of the ingredient chemical’s technical and application characteristics. The lack of internal intelligence collaboration enabled a situation where two products competed in application and function – actually minimizing their individual customer benefits.

 

We found other issues such as marketers who routinely spend countless hours scouring the web, using different sources time and time again. And no one actually questioned the found information for reliability, consistency, and accuracy. No economy of scale benefit developed for intelligence purchases.

 

Fragmented Information and Processes

 

Other situations again demonstrated that we missed important market developments (such as surprise mergers and capacity shifts, major investments, or changes in regulations and legislation) since we lacked an interconnected alert system between business and service units. For example, we found out that a government funded import duty was going to be reduced in an Asian country only shortly before the actual regulation change. Without the possibility of properly and carefully prepare our customers for the upcoming change in pricing to compensate for the financial impact of the change, we shocked them with a surprise announcement. This accounts for a classical lack in early warnings capabilities.

 

We also identified issues that occurred because of manual and mediocre ways of storing and disseminating market studies and other intelligence material. Investments into intelligence did not unfold to their full potential, and many colleagues wasted time identifying the availability and accessibility of intelligence that we already possessed. Here again, every business unit entertained different methods and tools.

 

These and other shortcomings leads to a dilemma: Without a proper CI process and life cycle (see Figure 1, Market & Competitive Intelligence Life Cycle) in place management based their decisions on a combination of fragmented information and conventional wisdom as opposed to basing decisions on fabricated, facts-based and intelligence needs driven education. But you don’t really want to tell your management that their past decisions were based on hot air!

 

HOW TO ALERT MANAGEMENT OF INTELLIGENCE SHORTCOMINGS

 

At this point I would like to share some important tactics with you. To gain traction and to gather support for any change, executives need to be convinced to buy into the value of intelligence. As mentioned earlier, our working with managers who experienced some of the shortcomings provided ample ammunition for this task. Where there are issues there will be people who suffered from them or learned to deal with them. We found those individuals and teamed up with them.

 

Human nature and some unfortunate but very real dynamics within organizations do not support thoughtless finger pointing. We never obtain a clear and fair picture of many variables such as past efforts, failed (even if well motivated) programs, disappointments and miscommunication. Aware of such sensitivities, we refrained from criticizing the past and concentrated on future improvements.

 

We did use past negative examples but only if their use was supported or even driven by the people who were in charge of this past experience. Otherwise I would advise against examples that might cut off any future support if they could generate misjudgment or unfair treatment or hurt feelings. The concrete and neutral argument to consolidate 120 individual online or newsletter subscriptions into one single corporate subscription for a fraction of the price is easily made - and bought into.

 

Hint: The status quo and reviews of historic intelligence features require very careful research. There is nothing more embarrassing and damaging than presenting an issue when in fact there was a hidden solution at play that actually did work to some extent.

 

Great ways to generate executive’s awareness about current issues without putting anyone on the spot are testimonials, and examples from best practices with clear and trustworthy indications of the value added in direct response to the own shortcomings. This is invaluable to draw conclusions and convincing rationales for improvements. Also experience and results from well respected external organizations are very likely to be taken seriously and create further interest by management.

 

A Business case approach

 

One very formal way to create executive buy-in is the official business case. Some elements of our business case contained:

 

  • Major improvement themes (outlook on improved competitiveness, increased efficiency, saved cost, speed-up idea to market).
  • Major impact themes (projections on various cost savings, productivity increase, revenue & profitability increase).
  • Business benefits (improved market and customer focus, opportunities identification, minimizing investment risks) ... to name a view.

 

Strategic and operational objectives, scope descriptions, project planning and timelines, deliverables, communications plans, resource requirements, budgets, risks analysis including potential constraints with pro-active counter measures, project organization, sponsorship and governance completed the plan.

 

TURNING IT ALL AROUND

 

In a major effort to address demanding changes in face of dramatic global developments (such as crude oil and currency effects as well as strengthened Asian competition and whole market shifts) the company started an Operational Agenda. This program was designed to improve marketing and sales operations among other business adjustments such as global SAP introduction, lean manufacturing, and more.

 

A newly-hired chief marketing and sales officer received the mandate to set-up a team of project leaders and senior managers. Their goal was to establish missing or adjust outdated marketing and sales infrastructure and functions in a corporate marketing and sales office. The chief marketer’s background from one of the top 20 global corporations opened a motivating look into a world class marketing an sales operations. These operations worked so much better in a company that was a lot larger and more successful than ours. This is something an executive always likes to listen to, and created much top level support.

 

Among the chief marketer’s targeted changes and plans to develop excellence in marketing and sales was a centralized market and competitive intelligence function. This function was proposed to and approved by the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors. The primary goal of this function was to implement improvements in intelligence that complimented all other developments and systems, and was funded by the Operational Agenda sponsors – the Executive Committee.

 

Virtual teams

 

When the opportunity to work on this project was presented to me, I was thrilled and excited. I gladly accepted the challenge, and knew that we needed to break down the long journey to excellence into digestible and manageable chunks. We decided early on that market research and analysis capacities should remain within the business units (although these resources were scarce and competed with many other crucial tasks). So I started putting virtual teams together.

 

The core team was comprised of senior managers representing all the business units’ marketing and sales requirements. Those with advanced skills in business analysis and strategic positioning within their units were selected for the core team members. Another more ad hoc team was to interface with crucial support functions. One such function was the legal department, to secure ethical standards for intelligence activities. Another was the procurement group to establish and maintain negotiation power with intelligence vendors. In addition marketing communicators started trade show and conference intelligence pilots with us, and security officers could provide lectures at workshops to cover counter intelligence topics.

 

As a member of the company’s Marketing and Sales Board that steered all M&S projects as a cross-business executive body, I could reconfirm major project steps and continuously renew executive buy-in. Most importantly, market and competitive intelligence remained on the highest level agenda at all times and thus became integral part of the company’s marketing and sales systems, processes, and routines.

 

A Mandate to Fix

 

Equipped with the mandate to fix past issues and advance to excellence in market and competitive intelligence, we conducted best practice analysis and status quo assessment within the first couple of months.

 

As the common availability of market data and information was considered the very backbone of any further intelligence development, we decided to fix this situation first. Establishing a web based intelligence portal and document repository proved to be the most important project step in establishing a central CI function. From the start, this portal provided clear, applicable benefits to everyone involved. And it forced us to look into many processes to create or revamp them to support that global intelligence one-stop-solution.

 

Obviously we found many marketers who couldn’t wait to have easy and regulated access to intelligence material and supporting information. The harder sale was to groups that were pressured to exclusively focus on profit generation and sales increases. Under such circumstances, All too often intelligence work is considered simple overhead.

 

Clear intelligence guidelines and focus

 

What helped our cause tremendously was the broad introduction of business plan templates and marketing project planning tools that all included clear guidelines and techniques to develop intelligence via Five Forces, SWOT and Four Corners analysis and other intelligence measures. Now even teams under extreme capacity constraints had much more efficient tools to accomplish standard marketing disciplines, including market and competitive intelligence work. We still maintained a flexible approach to intelligence, especially in areas where there were bigger fish to fry at the moment.

 

The ability to opt out of excessive intelligence work but allow for major data points to be reviewed is much better than to skip involvement in entire intelligence activities altogether. With our new automated news clipping and intelligence dissemination system we could serve anyone who didn’t have the time to search for intelligence and thus was cut off from crucial news and insights.

 

In difficult times even a reduced intelligence focus could provide more valid insights (such as major mergers and capacity shifts in a target market for example). Managers who needed to run their business unit under a stringent regime of sales focus and capacity constraints still had the option to limit efforts in intelligence activities without missing the major check points and health checks any business needs.

 

Here an opportunity became apparent to support such a business unit via a harmonized, cross-collaboration effort. Managers under pressure to cut cost and personnel will most likely agree to be helped as opposed to lose their decision power just because they can’t afford to invest in intelligence activities.

 

Gain intelligence converts

 

Some of the business unit managers turned from opponents of extended intelligence efforts to strong believers in the potential impact once they understood how much they could be supported without spending any of their own scarce resources. Intelligence acceptance was also helped by requiring them to follow guidelines for business plans. Everything built-in will fall into place automatically.

 

Intelligence is the very backbone of any business plan content, along with collective expertise and experience. I can not stress enough the importance to build intelligence into existing routines and processes. Once all managers become familiar with it nobody could imagine losing it. It would feel like a car without gauges and all windows painted.

 

Cross-collaboration

 

Equally important to embedding intelligence into business plans and processes is the environment and support of the intelligence function itself. To run the centralized, corporate supported system we desired, we required clear and simple processes to gather intelligence, and acquire material and services as well as rules to disseminate them.

 

It became clear to all parties involved that legal issues and risk could best be prevented by involving our legal group. Feeding the system with material coming from outside providers triggered another harmonization step: standardized sourcing with the help of our procurement group. We did manage to increase our negotiation power that way and our marketers freed up the time they did not need to spend on contract negotiations.

 

By now the core team contributed quite effectively to the general idea of cross-collaboration and harmonization. For once some of the downsizing and cost cutting of the past played in our favor as some of the businesses recognized the strength of this virtual team. After an initial time investment they would even save even more time due to the deliverables expected by implementing the system and smoothing the processes.

 

As we involved more people, established more processes, and enforced more rules for smooth operation across business units and support functions, the importance of proper communication increased as well. So we implemented an Intranet channel for intelligence users, producers, and interested employees. It carried the unique logo for our intelligence effort that we showed wherever intelligence was the main topic such as letter heads, internal e-campaigns and presentations.

 

We put out a call for people to provide subscription details to frequently used newsletters and online services. Where possible. we started to consolidate these individual subscriptions into corporate accounts. Most of those we disseminate today via our intelligence portal.

 

Meanwhile we looked at many other intelligence topics besides the ongoing harmonization surrounding the introduction of the global intelligence portal. Since the capacity and readiness to add on new projects and tasks remained limited, we kept some of the status quo analysis low profile and many improvement areas will only be tackled in the years to come to reflect the difficult internal resource situation.

 

Be flexible

 

When the awareness that intelligence matters improved dramatically, we could offer quick fixes and bigger solutions for other areas that were identified as flawed or otherwise problematic. For example, trade show and conference intelligence is always an activity where many companies do not go the extra mile. Still this is a field where already simple steps create visible results.

 

It is worth noticing that we didn’t just march through with a plan. Many approaches didn’t click, some milestones had to be moved, tactics needed to be changed on the fly. There were as many obstacles (Sidebar 2) as there were little successes. The key is to remain flexible and to stick to the long term targets.

 

Since concerns and resistance do not dissolve at equal speed and depth in all related target areas, we promoted examples where common obstacles have been resolved or proven obsolete for everyone to see. This should take care of remaining doubts or even open new opportunities with anyone who was observing from the sideline.

 

STRENGTHEN AND ENFORCE

 

We generate our Key Intelligence Topics (KITs) within a clearly defined business plan and other marketing planning processes. On one hand this ensures that the KITs are served quickly without connection to specialized expertise. On the other, we continue to develop our intelligence capacities and expertise at varying speeds and levels. Steering against this potential value dilution and the missing transparency we have recognized the need of mutual processes, education and routines.

 

For example, our business plans and marketing processes include various major building blocks (Figure 2) which include intelligence tasks. Understanding the market place and developing business strategies are two major milestones all marketing and sales efforts have to accomplish. The very basis for these marketing elements is our intelligence life cycle (Figure 1). As part of the recurring cycle of activities that are delegated to professionals based on their consistent role profiles, we set business targets, identify intelligence needs, acquire suitable information and data, analyze and produce intelligence, and disseminate it via our defined processes.

 

But having processes, techniques, technology and guidelines in place are not enough by themselves. They can produce real business value only if implemented responsibly, actively, and in a timely manner. Marketers have to learn the importance of their intelligence work and extend its impact. They also need to learn the craft of developing actionable intelligence. Those are some of the future steps (see below) we will take after fixing the basics.

 

To influence the way intelligence is done and apply more state-of-the-art techniques and tools, as well as recognizing current educational needs, we started to involve ourselves in existing marketing challenges. The closer we move to the core marketing activities the more transparent the need for valid, decision-supporting intelligence. As a result, marketers who learn about additional options to better understand their external business environment are more open to all intelligence activities.

 

For example, talking to external marketers who are way down the value chain can unveil opportunities these companies want to satisfy, and we could become their partner to succeed in this quest. In another example, we helped to identify new sources for our colleagues to develop as another edge for their business cases. These managers appreciate receiving additional ammunition to bring their point across when presenting to executives.

 

To support our ongoing improvements, we will conduct frequent checks to improve the analytical techniques taught to our marketers based on their actual impact. In practical terms we will support business plan creation and project activities in pilot sessions to identify the shortcomings or strengths of the various analysis techniques in our environment. As a result, we will adjust our recommended tools and techniques along with the educational changes to support these improvements.

 

WORKING WITH INDIVIDUALS

 

You’ll step into many backyards – respect the “owners” integrity and create buy-in. If this all sounds pretty logical and simple to execute, well it wasn’t. There were road blocks and potential killer criteria for many activities. The more carefully you prepare to address such issues the better your chances for success. Depending on who is assigned the task to harmonize intelligence activities and depending on existing experience, networking strength, and degree of internal acceptance or reach, significant effort and time might have to be factored in when planning for any major change.

 

Harmonization of any business process will likely impact various individuals and their work environment and routines. Make sure to secure the direct buy-in for your efforts from as many of those impacted colleagues as possible. Manage their expectations and present yourself as an understanding colleague who respects their tasks and activities. When you add in future benefits for these colleagues, it will likely generate enthusiasm from them. Make it clear what is needed from them as well to achieve these benefits.

 

For example a Business Development Manager who is guided through a market analysis with straightforward tools and techniques supported by simplified access to crucial marked studies will have to invest time to learn them. The manager might help identify market study locations on internal networks for consolidation or identify key intelligence topics on various routines and projects. With this information, the intelligence function can target these requirements much better. An added benefit is that anything that proves valuable can be extended to all other units replacing fragmented approaches.

 

Remember to celebrate successes and reward outstanding contributions. This, in turn, supports internal promotion of your efforts if it’s clear value for the business is communicated with the message.

 

Hint: Always keep a positive attitude towards anyone who was previously involved in intelligence activities. You don’t want to single out anyone who might have worked very hard on intelligence that was not well structured or supported. Colleagues are more likely to join in to change something for the better if their past efforts are respected, as opposed to be neglected or worse: slammed as a cause for the due change. Invite your colleagues -- you’ll be surprised of the energizing factor and the help for your own project.

 

Any project that targets major improvements across organizational boundaries ends up requiring much more effort than originally anticipated. After several first steps you may have to adjust your mandates and establish broader support. Don’t risk generating a significant bottom line impact for your organization just because some small initial steps caused early failure or limitations. Consequently executive buy-in needs renewal when plans change or scopes broaden.

 

MAKE IT EASY FOR ANYONE INVOLVED

 

If the scope of your effort is not clearly determined, the roles not cleanly established, and your targets not completely formulated (including all measurement mechanisms), any initial effort should be kept low key. Suggesting a dramatic improvement project or any other major change that is based on significant research will most certainly be credited by management right from the start when business interruptions, irritation and capacity drain were avoided from the beginning.

 

Try to involve management with some goals they want to follow up on. Simple measurements should help. What gets measured gets managed!

 

Hint: Nowadays everyone’s agenda seems to spill over. To be most effective when gathering executive’s support, use the elevator speech approach: Imagine you meet your CEO in the elevator and you have just 60 seconds to make a point that might make your day (or better even: his!). Or identify any other situation that could make or break your project. This is a great way of challenging yourself. I got into the habit of always memorizing my 60 elevator speech, and updating it when hot topics change priorities. Try it; you’ll be surprised how clearly you learn to communicate the most important facts about your cause.

 

 

NEXT STEPS

 

Deploying a unified repository and news portal, and implementing mutual processes to utilize common sets of tools and techniques were only the beginning for our organization. We now need to close educational gaps and extend our array of research and analytical techniques. Maximizing impact through world class intelligence production and developing executives who gauge their business decisions based on that much improved intelligence are our logical next goals.

 

There is also the solid potential of combining our efforts in marketing and sales with other groups. R&D intelligence is a classical collaboration candidate for marketing when it comes to information sharing and intelligence development. Customer value perception should always drive innovation. Therefore it is essential for innovation drivers to know what marketers know.

 

We’ll establish a firm, global intelligence vendor segmentation and strategy and complete the process of replacing individual subscriptions with corporate accounts for specialized information vendors. Trade show and conference intelligence will become a default company process with tools and collection guidelines, refinement of ethical guidelines, counter intelligence measures and support of detailed intelligence projects to add yet more value. Our future intelligence deliverables will be requested based on the increased intelligence activities as a direct result of the much improved accessibility and the unified processes that include the intelligence tools and techniques.

 

Most important, we have to apply the principle that any intelligence is only developed and supported when it is fully understood by both the business owner and the intelligence developer, and a specific decision is being supported by the intelligence project or product. An external world class intelligence unit I was able to review recently does not even start any work until this check mark is made and executive ownership secured. This is something we will have to develop as well as a culture of ongoing dialogue about intelligence goals and projects.

 

We will certainly have to take it one step at a time. With the improved negotiation power and strengthened partnerships with our chosen intelligence vendors and with the dissemination system in place, we already satisfy many more intelligence needs.

 

And there is much more to come. We have become a lot smarter now in intelligence gathering, production, utilization and sharing. And sometimes: in not sharing...

 

Status: Early 2008 (the function, processes, organization, deliverables and culture have matured more significantly since this chapter was produced, stand by for updates at www.thie.me). You can get a detailed update at my workshop I will hold jointly with Hans Hedin of the Global Intelligence Alliance at SCIP's European Summit in Amsterdam November 2009.