Starting a project is never easy. Putting an idea down on paper is one thing, but putting it into practice and turning it into something tangible is quite another. Nevertheless, it is a common and necessary process of evolution, which takes place all around us very often. It happens in academia, in scientific research and, of course, in business.
This chapter begins a series of articles in which we will try to give a different vision of Competitive Intelligence. Little by little we will go deeper into the different dimensions of this discipline, its applications and the techniques or methodologies used.
To do this, we will take as an example a fictitious company, well established in the technology sector, with a Competitive Intelligence Unit whose objective is to grow and expand its business opportunities in other sectors by taking advantage of the potential it has. In this and the following chapters we will see step by step how this can be achieved. Let's start.
The fictitious technology company SENS (acronym of Sistemas de Entrenamiento y Simulación), specialised in the development of computer simulation systems, wants to become part of the group of companies linked to the Security and Defence sector in Spain.
SENS has extensive experience in the computational simulation of systems. It has a wide range of products and services that mimic real-world processes and operations.
Recently, they believe they have identified a business opportunity in relation to Simulators and RPAS programmes, which are increasingly being used by the Armed Forces. However, they do not have more information about the sector and do not have the means or resources to carry out a more detailed analysis of the environment they are considering approaching.
Faced with this situation, management poses what is known as an Intelligence Need or IN. In other words, it requires accurate, clear and concise information that allows it to make strategic decisions regarding its possible entry into the sector.
Given the magnitude of the project, they decided to invest in the creation of a Competitive Intelligence Unit to carry out this work and respond to these needs.
What is Competitive Intelligence?
Broadly speaking, Competitive Intelligence is nothing more than the application of intelligence in a business or organisational environment . In this sense, the ultimate goal is the same for a government, for a company or for a military unit: to respond to the need for information posed by the decision-maker. In other words, to support decision-making.
Depending on which author is chosen, definitions of what Competitive Intelligence is and what it is not vary according to one's approach and perspective. However, most agree that it is a dynamic process that encompasses the following key aspects:
- Information about the competitive environment (past, present and future)
- Knowledge of the company's needs
- Use of specific analytical techniques
- Legal and ethicalprocedures
What is Competitive Intelligence for?
As mentioned above, the purpose of Competitive Intelligence is to support strategic decision making. In this way, uncertainty is reduced and risk is minimised. However, as the process progresses, it can also support tactical and operational decision making.
In this sense, previous articles have already mentioned the value of this discipline in different processes related to competitive surveillance or risk management, showing, for example, how Competitive Intelligence supported by the Digital Footprint can be a useful tool in the business environment.
The creation of the Unit
Returning to the case of SENS, the fictitious company we mentioned earlier, we have left the management with the Intelligence Need (which will result in one or more information needs or NINFOs) and which is the reason for the decision to create the Competitive Intelligence Unit.
In the following chapters we will see the main axes around which this Unit will be structured, as well as other relevant issues such as its relationship with the rest of the organisation, the different profiles of its analysts, the sources of information or the most appropriate analysis techniques and models .
But don't get ahead of yourself, we will see all this and much more, step by step, in the coming days.