Competitive intelligence is the action of defining, gathering, analyzing, and distributing intelligence about products, customers, competitors, and any aspect of the environment needed to support executives and managers making strategic decisions for an organization. Source: Wikipedia

1. Assign the analyst a “sign-off” authority over major decisions. The single most effective way to ensure intelligence is used in any given decision is to give the analyst a say in moving it forward. In practical terms this means the analyst – not just the PowerPoint deck – becomes part of discussions leading to the decision. That is the one area where “intelligent organizations” differ most from others.

2. Management must be open to perspectives that were different from the internal consensus. Management that is more open to different perspective is also more likely to ask the analyst for the “big picture” rather than just the data.

3. The analyst’s report must call for proactive action more than reaction. Most companies are reactive by nature, and a lot of intelligence is about reacting to competitors’ moves. However, the decisions that matter more may well be those that are proactive. When the analyst provided proactive recommendations, the analysis had more of an impact.

4. The analyst should be involved in product launches. Competitive intelligence is highly popular in tactical areas, and that product launches are an area where companies are most worried about competitors’ responses; successful product launches depend on correctly gauging the response of other players in the market. These include, naturally, customers and competitors, but also the less obvious responses by distribution channels, regulatory authorities, and influencing agents. Lack of insightful anticipation of these reactions — which is where competition analysts have the greatest expertise — leads to many more failures than there should be. Perhaps the analysts involved with product launches are thus given more of a mandate than analysts involved in other kinds of activities.

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