Our CI Ning brings out so much discussion in competitive intelligence. Here is one point I shared recently and it bears repeating: I would like to support the role of librarians in the CI field. Often in competitive intelligence there is so much confusion about what we do, that we ram our way into places where we don’t belong somewhat in desperation.
We can learn from librarians about good service, which is a lot what I believe is behind the practice of cooperative intelligence, which promotes a spirit of giving by integrating the practices of leadership, connection and communication. Many of us in CI are very good at digging up good insightful data and providing relevant analysis. We’re not so good at the human issues of connection and communication, which is where librarians run circles around many of us. They learn about this in librarian school both as undergrads and in master’s programs.
Many librarians don’t have extensive analytical skills, while some do. I have been disturbed over the years by how some in our field seem to put down the library science field, when it’s the first step in most CI projects, and the librarian can be one of the major sources of fuel to feed the CI process so we can spend more time connecting with primary sources and doing the analysis and communication to help our companies be more competitive.
I learned to value librarians back in 1985 when I started our CI function at Bell Atlantic, now part of Verizon. Our corporate librarian was an important part of my CI team, and she threw more good stuff my way…yes, this was before the Internet, email and voice mail…now librarians can do so much more, and watch a librarian connect on social networks. This is just an extension of what they already have been doing for years.
I think these are some of the reasons that SLA’s CI division is so successful. Librarians get where their role is in the company, that it’s evolving and provide it with a spirit of service and giving. They also know what they don’t know and learn about it: that’s where CI fits in and why SLA’s CI certificate program has been so successful. Another reason is it was developed and executed by a seasoned CI professional, Cynthia Cheng Correia who understands librarian’s needs since she also has her MLS.