Not to be confused with spying, industrial espionage, or illegal electronic
surveillance, competitive intelligence (CI) involves research and analysis
to increase competitive advantage.
Benefits of a Competitive Advantage Role
CI offers a variety of lucrative career fields, with pay running from
$40K-$500K depending on the position and responsibility. Many fit close to
the $100K range.
CI improves an organization's market knowledge and performance through
better decision-making and strategic planning. It's applied to business
development, to create and enhance intellectual property, and to examine the
Research supports these business processes, as cited by the SCIP (Society of
Competitive Intelligence Professionals), in a recent survey of members:
Most organizations use business intelligence whether they call it that or
not, and whether or not it's staffed formally.
- Corporate and business strategy
- Joint ventures
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Market entry
- Product, research or technology development
- Regulatory Compliance
- Sales and business development
Definition of Competitive Intelligence
Competitive intelligence consists of collecting and analyzing relevant data
and trends on an environment from internal and external sources. Results
support the organization's decision-making and primary business objectives.
Public collection sources are used to garner data on competitors. The
function often relates to marketing, and planned or offered products and
Market research is gathered about a process, person, organization,
technology, or product, through public or online searches, and subscription
databases and reports. Collective data is analyzed and strategy created
based on the outcome.
Research identifies competitive threats, and the strengths and weaknesses of
your organization, market and competition. It surfaces new opportunities,
and shifts you to a more proactive mode for organizational planning and
Although the research data may be public, it's collection and sharing is
kept private within an organization, as part of confidential strategic
How to Position Your Career Options
Positions that utilize BI or CI part or full time include:
Librarian positions are disappearing, but offer a great transition point at
- Marketing Analyst
- Business Analyst
- Business Development Manager
- Account Manager
- Sales Manager
- Consulting Analyst
- Competitive Intelligence Manager
- Market Research Manager
- Knowledge Manager
- Information Scientist
Core responsibilities of a CI role:
Hard skills typical for landing a CI position:
- Research data from multiple sources
- Analyze results from aggregate
- Assess accuracy, validity, and reliability of data
- Write and speak on research results and recommendations
- Conduct interviews
- Develop and execute surveys
- Create graphics, spreadsheets and reports
- Detail oriented
- Manage diverse clients and requests, with competing priorities and
Engaging upper management is key to success. CI falls under the "cost
center", since there's no direct return on investment to the bottom line.
- Undergraduate degree (journalism, business, economics, mathematics,..)
- MLA (Master of Library Science) or MBA (Master of Business Administration)
- Business experience matters most
The Grass is Green
Industries fit far and wide: Law firms, consulting agencies, biotechnology,
technology companies, pharmaceutical and health organizations, consumer
Major research and advisory firms that deal with the trends and future of
technology include Gartner, Inc., IDC (International Data Corporation), and
Forrester Research. Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve focuses on consumer trends
This industry is still gaining ground lost in the 2000's downturn and merger
mania. But market research is still a critical commodity in many fields and
The Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals, at www.scip.org
serves the CI field. Chapters aren't active everywhere. The Special
Library Association (SLA) at www.sla.org offers another resource with
These visionary individuals and organizations help shape the future. You
mine your own diamond field.
Seek opportunities in research or marketing, part or full-time. Expand your
role in technology with mapping to long range planning and strategy.
Break into the field as a Marketing Intern.
Visit research firm web sites
and look for job openings. Talk to the people in your marketing and sales
teams, or in the strategy group for technology. Search on Google using
"Competitive Intelligence Jobs".
Coming Next! Everything you wanted to know about H1B Visas and how they
really impact technology and jobs.
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