What is Competitive Intelligence?
Competitive intelligence (CI) is the method a company takes when researching knowledge about its competitive environment, industry, technology landscape, and more, with the aim of shaping its business or innovation strategy. CI helps a company identify areas in which it can maximize its competitiveness, areas that could present potential risks, and how resources can be best deployed. By employing CI, a company can make the most informed decision(s) possible for the future.
It’s important to note that CI is based on publicly available information and other legally acquired information sources. CI relies on many types of information sources, but what these sources have in common is data that provides actionable intelligence. For example, CI might focus on online job postings or patent filings, as an uptick in either of those metrics could indicate a growing field of innovation.
Other Terms for Competitive Intelligence
- Competitor intelligence
- Corporate intelligence
- Business intelligence
- Market intelligence
- Economic intelligence
- Gathering competitive intelligence
- Innovation intelligence
- Connected innovation intelligence
Why is Competitive Intelligence Important?
The importance of competitive intelligence can be summed up in three words: knowledge is power. Like the ancient philosopher Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” By gathering as much information as possible and turning that into intelligence, a company is equipped to make the best possible decisions with respect to its market and competitors.
As the speed of innovation increases, it’s more important than ever to be first-to-market, and to deploy resources quickly but efficiently. Shaping a new business or innovation strategy with deep insights needs to be done as early as possible, and continuously as the strategy unfolds. This ensures business decisions remain strategic and targeted from start to finish.
Effective use of CI is important for organizations of any size. Multinational corporations and early-stage disruptors have the same for real-time information, even though how they use CI might differ.