Human Sources for Competitive Intelligence Part 1

Authored bycascade

Three Insights from People Needing (Intelligent) People

To understand everything you need to know about an industry, there’s just no substitute for directly talking to people. Because of that reality, human intelligence should ideally be part of every competitive intelligence project, no matter what the eventual goal of the effort is, and no matter what analysis frameworks you use. To take maximum advantage of the possibilities, consider the following:

  1. There are always more people to talk with. Often, even the most seasoned analysts put limitations on themselves when they consider whom they can interview, and they may even be convinced that they don’t have access to human-intelligence sources. It may help to consider that you can always talk to your own sales and product engineering teams, and with some limitations, you can also talk to your customers and partners. You might even be able to get access to your competitors and their customers.
  2. Reaching out to people all over the industry comes more naturally to some analysts than others. Some analysts are more comfortable casting a wide net in the outside world, while others are more disposed to solitary effort identifying patterns in masses of data from multiple sources. Those who run competitive intelligence organizations can benefit from identifying such varying personality types, as part of pairing complementary analysts to work together on a given project.
  3. There’s plenty of help out there, if you need it. The industry is full of competitive intelligence consultants that can be helpful to your organization as it builds up its human-intelligence operation. One valuable method is that, rather than simply outsourcing this effort, you can use consultants to help establish best practices for the future. This is an efficient approach, and it also makes the use of budget for this purpose more palatable, since it is likely to pay off in the long term.

This is the first installment in a series of three posts about gathering human intelligence for competitive intelligence professionals. The second one, “Three Ways to Break the Silence and Get the Ball Rolling,” discusses the process of actually getting started, and the third one, “A Three-Part Framework for Culling the Herd to Find the Right Humans,” introduces the process of identifying a broader spectrum of people to interview and a framework for deciding which ones are the best prospects.

By Sean Campbell
By Scott Swigart

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