Building High-Value CI on a Foundation of KIQs
We often see CI organizations define their goals with a focus on deliverables, such as battlecards and competitor profiles. It’s not surprising that people think in those tangible terms, but it puts the cart before the proverbial horse to decide how to represent results before knowing what form they’ll take. A better approach is to begin with key intelligence questions (KIQs), such as “how should we focus our marketing spend?” or “what features should we add to our product?”
Avoid the Trap of Just Fetching Sticks
Many CI roles and organizations exist before they have structured processes or even a clear charter. That can lead to a focus on low-value responses to deliverables requests instead of analysis. Worse, it can push CI into the role of an answer desk that fetches sticks for a living, servicing isolated questions such as “how many sales reps does competitor X have in the northeast US?” or “what was their sales volume of product Y last quarter?”
A focus on fetching sticks also leads to success being measured by the wrong metrics, such as how many battlecards were produced or how many inquiry tickets were resolved. It’s a red flag if a CI organization is being asked for facts instead of analysis, synthesis, and insights. Beginning with goals based on KIQs can help avoid the danger.
Base Projects on Goals Worthy of Analysis
The first step to establishing a healthy CI operation is to identify which part of the company you are going to support (e.g., sales, marketing, engineering), and with what high-level goals (e.g., “accelerate sales,” “improve long-range planning”). Based on those goals, you can work with business units to define KIQs for a specific project, after which the CI organization can identify resources, plan an approach, and gather data for analysis.
This approach is often part of the CI organization’s charter, and if not, it should be. If a poorly conceived request comes to the CI organization, the charter can enable you to push it back, compelling and helping the requestor to improve it. The result will be a more valuable project, an improvement that will ultimately benefit everyone.
Define a High-Value Role for the CI Function
Basing projects on KIQs brings clarity to the larger organization about the role of CI, and business units will see the value of looking to CI organizations for high-value intelligence instead of trivial tasks. Once the role of CI is well established in this way, you can set up a analysis queue that prioritizes activities effectively, helping to optimize the value of CI projects the group is working on at any given time.
Ultimately, CI organizations must avoid having the workflow begin with a pre-defined deliverable, while also keeping the need for eventual deliverables in mind throughout the process. The result is a balanced approach that generates actionable intelligence to address KIQs, guiding the success of the company as a whole.
By Sean Campbell
By Scott Swigart