FRANCE : The 10 commandments of Competitive Intelligence

1. Define information needs. An competitive intelligence process should start with a precise analysis of the information needs of the decision-makers, coworkers and employees within a company. On the basis of this work, it is up to the management to decide what the priorities are and consequently to set orientations for information research.

2. Gather open information. It is estimated that approximately 90% of information useful to a company is openly published ; which is what is called “formal” information. With the development of new information technologies, the mass of data available has become enormous ; identifying relevant information in this ever growing flow requires having suitable computer tools.
3. Don’t forget “informal” information. And yet, the small share of useful information that is not available in open literature is often that which provides the greatest added value to the company. It is possible to gather it legally and ethically through work in networks (interviews with contacts) and in the field (for example, during conferences, trade shows and professional events), and through constant monitoring of new, potentially useful sources of information.

4. Rank and process the information gathered. For it to be able to truly support a decision, the information must be evaluated, grouped, analyzed and synthesized. This process can also use tools for advanced information processing. It should also lead, if necessary, to consultations with experts in the fields in question.

5. Diffuse the information in a timely manner. An effective competitive intelligence process diffuses relevant information to the right people at the right time and in the most suitable form. Mastering the logic of circulating data ensures successful, targeted distribution, making it possible to extend it to new decision-makers. For this, an information circulation scheme must be set up and a culture of exchange is needed within the company.
6. Measure the satisfaction of the recipients. The only way to ensure that the information delivered corresponds to the needs of the recipients is to ask ! This feedback is the way to evaluate the usefulness of the information provided so as to meet the needs of the decision-makers and operational agents.
7. Protect sensitive data and know-how. Some information and know-how constitutes precious assets that the company must know how to protect through suitable computer, organizational, human and legal measures.
8. Influence the environment. Information can also be used as a lever for action to promote one’s interests within a legal context (lobbying, influence communication, Internet use, etc.). On the other hand, the company must be vigilant as to the use of these methods against it or even of illegal processes such as disinformation.
9. Definitively banish naiveté while avoiding paranoia. A pragmatic, realistic, operational attitude should be adopted : a state of mind combining vigilance and openness.

10. Get everyone’s support. The success of an competitive intelligence process requires not only the mastery of competitive intelligence by one or more professionals, but also the active participation of all employees. Awareness of information sharing and the network culture is therefore essential. This presupposes a strong commitment from the management and the company where everyone should gather useful information to be able to transmit it to the concerned actors.



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