Competitive Intelligence

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What is 'Competitive Intelligence '

The process of collecting and analyzing information about competitors’ strengths and weaknesses in a legal and ethical manner to enhance business decision-making. Competitive intelligence activities can be basically grouped into two main types – 1) Tactical, which is shorter-term and seeks to provide input into issues such as capturing market share or increasing revenues; and 2) Strategic, which focuses on longer-term issues such as key risks and opportunities facing the enterprise. Competitive intelligence is different from corporate or industrial espionage, which use illegal and unethical methods to gain an unfair competitive advantage.

BREAKING DOWN 'Competitive Intelligence '

Competitive intelligence means different things to different people within an organization. For example, to a sales representative, it may mean tactical advice on how best to bid for a lucrative contract. To top management, it may mean unique marketing insights to gain market share against a formidable competitor. The ultimate end goal of competitive intelligence is to help make better decisions and enhance organizational performance.
 
While most companies can find substantial information about their competitors online, competitive intelligence goes way beyond merely trawling the Internet, on the premise that the most valuable information is seldom – if  ever – easily accessible online. A typical competitive intelligence study includes information and analysis from numerous sources. These include the news media, customer and competitor interviews, industry experts, trade shows and conferences, government records and public filings.
 
In acknowledgement of the growing importance of competitive intelligence, the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) was founded in the U.S. in 1972. It underwent a name change to Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals in 2010.