Six Degrees of Connection

Heath Gross

Improve the ROI and sustainability of competitive intelligence in your organization by linking CI to Strategy using six analytical tools.

In order to increase the ROI, and thus the sustainability, of Competitive Intelligence (CI) within your organization, it is essential to link research with strategy.  While there is a growing dialogue concerning the need to increase the impact of CI on strategy, the majority of the discussion is theoretical in nature.

The goal of this series of blog posts is to provide the CI professional with six practical analytical tools that will enable the practitioner to convert research findings into research based strategic decision support.

The term polarization keeps popping up in the media; talking heads from Fox to MSNBC, and every channel in-between, are lamenting the division in our country’s wealth, healthcare and political views.  Polarization occurs when parties are split on how they perceive a problem and on how that problem can and should be resolved.

Our industry is Not Isolated from this trend

Recently there has been a lot of discussion about the need for competitive intelligence to be more closely aligned with strategy.  For those who prescribe to this view, competitive intelligence is regarded as a decision support tool, one that works hand in hand with other business disciplines in a broader consultative context.

Yet others suggest that competitive intelligence is a stand-alone product.  It is the sum of primary and secondary research and analysis; it is the product of a research organization, one whose goal is to find answers to questions.

The difference is less in the output and more in the goal.  Research organizations are focused on finding answers, consultative organizations are focused on finding solutions.

Based on the title of this blog it is probably pretty easy to figure out where I come down on this argument.  While we have plenty of clients that hire us to serve as there research vendor, I am convinced that we provide greater value when we are able to serve in a consultative role, as a thought partner that seeks to not just find answers, but to find solutions through research based decision support.

At a past Pharma CI European Conference the VP of Competitive Intelligence for Merck, in his keynote address, encouraged fellow CI professionals to look for ways to link CI to strategy, thereby increasing the value of CI.  Later in the conference, his peer and competitor, the Associate Vice-President of Corporate Strategic Intelligence at Sanofi, echoed these same sentiments in his session entitled, Leveraging Intelligence in the Strategic Decision Making Process.

I too spoke at this conference in a similarly themed session entitled, The Answer to CI ROI: Increasing the Value of Competitive Intelligence Through The Realignment of Research Objectives.  What is interesting is that there was no coordination between the three of us and this was never presented as a conference theme.  I don’t believe this is a coincidence, but rather another indication of a paradigm shift in our industry, one that will continue to polarize CI practitioners, dividing those who perceive themselves as researchers vs those that view themselves as consultants and strategists.

At the end of the day we can’t just talk about linking CI to strategy, we actually need to do it.

Another reoccurring theme I have been hearing is that while the idea is appealing in theory, many CI practitioners are not sure exactly how to do this.  Are there systems, tools and techniques that can enable us to move from the theoretical to the practical?

I am not claiming to have all the answers here.  But I did want to take a first step.  I wanted to share six tools that we use on a regular basis to help our clients transform intelligence into insight and research findings into business decisions support.  Some of these we developed in-house, some are time-tested tools, and others are modifications of widely used techniques. I hope that you find these useful in your effort to link CI to strategy, thereby improving the value, and thus, the sustainability, of CI in your organization.

Heath Gross
Founder / CEO