Michael D. Moberly September 25, 2008
I’ve never met a business decision maker yet who doesn’t claim to engage in competitor (business) intelligence. Often, in my experience, such statements are usually prefaced or followed by some blend of rationalization ranging from (a.) everybody does it, to (b.) you’re a fool if you don’t conduct competitor intelligence.
While there is virtually no data regarding the accuracy of such statements, I do suggest, with some degree of experiential certainty, that a significant percentage of businesses do regularly, if not consistently, engage in some form of competitor-business intelligence. I must point out that when I use the word ‘businesses’, I’m not referring only to the Fortune 500’s, but literally to thousands of SME’s (small, medium enterprises) and SMM’s (small, medium multinationals) as well. While their collection techniques and assessments may not be as sophisticated, analytical, or strategically oriented as those conducted by (a.) large corporations, or (b.) the countless private (independant) competitor intelligence firms operating globally, they still usually provide SME – SMM decision makers with useable insights (prognostications about the plans, intentions, and capabilities of their competitors, i.e., what they are doing, have done, or, are about to do!
I have researched and studied (domestic and international) competitor intelligence operations for many years and addressed numerous audiences on these issues, admittedly largely on countermeasures, that is, how to mitigate the potential adverse affects of competitor/business intelligence. Simply stated, I found the adverse affects (of competitor intelligence) usually materialize in one of four ways, that is, the purpose, intent, and/or objective is to (a.) undermine, (b.) erode, (c.) stifle, or (d.) get ahead of a competitors’ initiatives, competitive advantages, market position, or strategic planning.
Any company’s efforts to counter or mitigate the potential, but, very real, adverse affects of competitor intelligence absolutely begins with understanding its intangible assets. This means recognizing that intangible assets comprise increasing percentages, as much as 65+%, of most company’s value and sources of revenue and future wealth creation. In other words, intangible assets constitute the ‘drivers’ of that value, revenue, and future wealth creation which is precisely what competitor-business intelligence operatives are seeking, whether, I might add, they actually realize it or not!