What is Competitive Intelligence?


So what is competitive intelligence?

Let’s start with what it is NOT:

  • It is not spying, which is what many think it is.
  • It is not a simple Google Internet search
  • It is not networking

What is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is a continuous activity that provides an ongoing update of activities in the marketplace. A functioning competitive intelligence process will provide signals or early warnings that allow a company to act first in anticipation of a competitor’s moves or to adopt or counteract new technologies that will have an impact of their industry.

The objective of competitive intelligence is to help companies better understand their competitive environment in order to make sound business decisions, and to uncover opportunities as well as threats. Competitive intelligence includes all the factors that impact a company’s ability to compete: suppliers, customers, distributors, competitors and potential competitors.

What is competitive intelligence

Macro factors that influence the competitive environment include economic, ecological, socio-cultural, political, legal and technology challenges that face a company. Competitive intelligence focuses on turning this external information into the insight required for strategic and tactical decision-making.

CI Info Sharing Internally close upWithin organizations, competitive intelligence is unique in that it’s a catalyst drawing on personnel from different areas of the company to cooperate in gathering and sharing competitive and market developments. In fact, competitive intelligence is a people-centric activity that brings together information from departments that often don’t or never communicate with each other. An effective competitive intelligence process can break down the silos that are often created by departmental rivalry.

What is Competitive Intelligence?

Remember that competitive intelligence can mean different things to different people, based on the understanding of their job function.

  • A sales person thinks of competitive intelligence as creating silver bullets that can be used against specific competitors.
  • A research scientist view competitive intelligence as intelligence on disruptive technology and competitors’ R&D initiatives.
  • Executives value competitive intelligence that is long-term and strategic, giving them insight on the marketplace, rivals and exciting opportunities!



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