« Are we not always seated at a great table for playing and mockery? » Nietzsche used to ask. Although Competitive Intelligence is more than that, being together is still the point.
However, two main misconceptions of Competitive Intelligence are often met here and there :
– The One-Ring Competitive Intelligence : « One ring to control them all, one ring to find them, one ring to gather them all and in darkness to bind them« . Competitive Intelligence would be, like the One Ring, the ultimate enslaving tool to control the outside world. Besides the fact that it reveals quite a narcissic vision, this is not a surprise if Companies don’t buy it : who would love to be compared with a manipulator and a slave trader ?
– The Ultimate-Weapon Competitive Intelligence : « survival of the fittest » : be it for dissuasion or for conquest, Competitive Intelligence is the unquestionable weapon (along with Sun Tzu’s « Art of War« ) in the battlefield of an economic environment. Turning Sun Tzu down is not the point, there is a lot to learn from him (as well as from others) in term of strategy. But economy is not a war, and Companies are not armies. Armies are to maintain security, while traders have to trade. The right man in the right place.
However, beside the verbs « control » and « fight« , there is another one, overlooked :
Understanding the economic environment in which competitors try to make their way helps deciding which strategy fits in regard with the Company’s goals. Furthermore, it is always useful to remind that the word « intelligence » is derived from the latin verb « intellegere« , which meaning is about understanding. And understanding is the first step to dialogue.
Competitive Intelligence, the esperanto of economy
If English is the most widespread language between people who speaks different languages, Competitive Intelligence is the equivalent in any organisation, be it public administrations of private companies.
For instance, let’s just imagine that you are part of a Research and Development Department. Should the Company in which you work decide to de-localize research or production units, or should technology transfer be agreed, the R&D Department will be facing a data protection case, particularly if patents are involved. This is where R&D meets Law. Another case : complying with standards is a part of what R&D is about. But is is also about getting market shares abroad, or keeping them on the Company’s home market, which is the Marketing Department’s job.
Therefore, far from being something in the hands of a chosen few, Competitive Intelligence is the common ground of all organisations, whatever they are in charge of.
Competitive Intelligence, the key to open every doors
With Internet arising, which is only one of the several sides of the new world economy, and corporate social responsibility, which involves such notions as diversity, The time is past when everyone could sit in their ivory towers. Opening on the outside world is compulsory, and implies the strict observance of ethic rules, the basis of which the individual remains an end, and not a mean.
This opening manifests itself through multilingualism first. If Online Research professionals want to get the best from Search Engines by 2020, they will have to either be proficient in one foreign language (ideally Chinese, or English and chinese for non-English people) or to collaborate with translation agencies, who will have, in turn, to be familiar with the roots of online data collection.
The diversity within Economic Intelligence also appears through the case of cultural diversity. Sometimes aggressively hegemonic, the globalization creates defense reactions, among which religious extremisms. Cultural diversity simultaneously deactivates this hegemony feeling and organizes trades in the mutual respect for each other’s culture.
The economic world is foreseeing the opportunities he can get from diversity. And Economic Intelligence is the appropriate tool to fulfill these opportunities.
It is because “ effectiveness goes through exchange “ that Companies involves customers in the creation process, which turned out to complete technological Online Researching. But exchange, to be positive, requires diversity : sex, culture, age, training, professional course, etc. It also rests on the fact that being influenced can lead to a positive result.
Diversity is also involved in the process of collective Intelligence. Its most significant illustration is in the draft of skills to enhance the mastery of online data flows for strategic decisions.
» To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction. » This sentence from the Bhagavad Gita, written centuries ago, still applies to Competitive Intelligence.