|Competitive intelligence is the process of
legally helping companies acquire other companies' secrets. It
applies methods developed in government intelligence.
There is a "Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals"
- Competitive Intelligence Guide
-- FULD & COMPANY, INC.
- Edgar Online
- Dun & Bradstreet
- Hoover Company
- The Motley Fool
War of Wits [Farago 1954]
This section takes intelligence as described in the book War
of Wits and pulls out the parts that apply to competitive
- Collection or procurement of information
- Evaluation of information, which then becomes intelligence
- Dissemination of information to those who need it
- Counterintelligence - concealment or protection of information
from intelligence operations of an adversary
"Research and analysis" exploits information in the public
domain. Work with published material (newspaper and magazines),
broadcasts, liaison with other organizations, and interrogation.
"Collection" is the process of culling useful information from
generally available information. "Procurement" is the process of
actively trying to obtain specific information.
Scan primary information sources. Look for new information. Look
for information corroborating other (perhaps suspicious)
information. Develop a backlog of information and look for a
The Competitive Intelligence Handbook (Combs &
Axioms of competitive intelligence
- Most of the info. needed for a given project is available
through publicly available channels.
- Information is where you find it.
- CI Projects pass through phases that are best described as a
U-shaped curve. (Optimism->depression->optimism)
- Someone else cares about the subject.
- Single sources of information are unreliable.
- Real market share is harder to find than it would appear to
- Companies, like individuals, leave a paper trail as they go
about their business.
- Plant tours
- EPA filings
- Filings with town/state e.g., when building a new plant.
- Company directories: The Directory of Corporate
Affiliations (HG4057 A219), The Encyclopedia of
Assocations (HS17 G32), Dun's Million Dollar
Directory(HC102 D8), S&P's Register of Corporations,
Directors, and Executives (HG4057 A41).
- Online databases
- Local newspapers
- Identification of information need: what question are you
- Collection of information. Sources are:
- Inside the company. Research info., discussions
- From online sources. NEXIS etc.
- Outside the company. Use public names, call around. (Warning:
don't directly call direct competitors - maybe illegal.)
- Analysis. Turn information into knowledge. Analytic approaches:
- Functional/chronological sorting. Plot history.
- Market share analysis
- Organization charts (approximate)
- Benchmark - compare self to others.
- Product/service comparisons. Overlapping patterns, product
- Stock market performance - plot investor perceived value.
- Value chain analysis - chain of production costs
- Strength & weakness analysis - by function (e.g.,
engineering or marketing)
- Vulnerability analysis - decide whether weaknesses are really
- Distinctive competence - real strengths
- Organization (of the search process)
- Ethics. Use public information: published information, public
government documents, company info. freely disclosed to outside
inquiry. NOT: trade secrets, other info. company diligently
protects, covertly obtained info.
They tell you whether anything is written on the subject. Can
provide names of employees in areas, or experts in the field. Might
provide information that can be put together into a pattern.
The DISCLOSURE database has company reports online.
DUN'S MARKET IDENTIFIERS, DUN'S ELECTRONIC BUSINESS DIRECTORY,
and COMPANY INTELLIGENCE databases provide information on private
Sources on Competitive Intelligence
- [AR 95] The Arizona Republic. "Spilling businesses' secrets to
rivals is big business," Roanoke Times and World-News, June
8, 1995, p. B8. 6/95
- [Combs 92] Richard E. Combs and John D. Moorhead. The
Competitive Intelligence Handbook, Scarecrow Press: Metuchen
NJ, 1992. HD38.7 C657 1992. 6/95
- [Farago 1954] Ladislas Farago. War of wits: the anatomy of
espionage and intelligence. Greenwood Press: Westwood, CN,
1954. UB250 F3 1976. 6/95
- [Fifer et al. 1988] Robert M. Fifer, Timothy R. Furey, Lawrence
S. Pryor, and Jeffrey P. Rumburg. Beating the Competition: A
practical guide to benchmarking, Vienna VA: Kaiser Associates,
- [Fuld 1985] Leonard M. Fuld. Competitor Intelligence: How to
get it, how to use it, New York NY: Wiley, 1985. HD38.7 F85
1985. CI techniques
- [Fuld 1988] Leonard M. Fuld. Monitoring the Competition:
Find out what's really going on over there, New York NY: Wiley,
1988. A walk through the process of CI, easier but less
comprehensive than [Fuld 1985]
- [Gilad & Gilad 1988] Benjamin Gilad and Tamar Gilad. The
Business Intelligence System, New York, NY: AMACOM (American
Management Association), 1988. Planning and operating a business
intelligence system. Collection and analysis.
- [Gordon 1989] Ian Gordon. Beat the Competitition! How to use
competitive intelligence to develop winning business
strategies, Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1989. HD38.7 G67
1989. CI and business strategy; shadow marketing (role
- [Mathey 1991] Charles J. Mathey. Competitive Analysis,
New York, NY: American Management Association, 1991. Collection,
analysis, and tradeoffs.
- [McGonagle & Vella 1990] John J. McGonagle and Carolyn M.
Vella. Outsmarting the competition: Practical approaches to
finding and using competitive information, Naperville, IL:
Sourcebooks, Inc., 1990. HD38.7 M39 1990. Basics
- [Meyer 1987] Herbert E. Meyer. Real-World Intelligence:
Organized information for executives, New York: NY, Weidenfeld
& Nicolson, 1987. HD38.7 M47 1987. Combs & Moorhead call
this "The best written of the current books on competitive
- [Porter 1980] Michael E. Porter. Competitive Strategy:
Techniques for analyzing industries and competitors, New York,
NY: Free Press/Macmillan, 1980. HD41 P67. Early book that helped
launch the area of CI
- [Porter 1985] Michael E. Porter. Competitive Advantage:
Creating and sustaining superior performance, New York, NY:
Free Press/MacMillan, 1985. HD41 P668 1985. Impt. early
- [Prescott 1989] John E. Prescott (ed.). Advances in
Competitive Intelligence Vienna, VA: Society of Competitor
Intelligence Professionals, 1989. HD38.7 A38 1989.
- [Sammon et al. 1984] William Sammon, Mark Kurland, Robert
Spitalnic, and others. Business Competitor Intelligence: Methods
for collecting, organizing, and using information, New York,
NY: Wiley, 1984. HD38.7 B87 1984. Readings
- [Stanat 1990] Ruth Stanat. The Intelligent Corporation:
Creating a shared network for information and profit, New York,
NY: AMACOM (American Management Association), 1990. HD38.7 S7 1990.
Computer-based support with network
- [Tyson 1990] Kirk W. M. Tyson. Competitor Intelligence
Manual and Guide: Gathering, analyzing, and using business
intelligence, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1990.
Workbook, not big on theory.
- [Tyson 1986] Kirk W. M. Tyson. Business Intelligence:
Putting it all together, Lombard, IL: Leading Edge
Publications, 1986. Advice; thin on material
- [Vella 1988] Carolyn M. Vella. Improved Business Planning
using Competitive Intelligence, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press,
1988. Overlaps with [McGonagle and Vella 1990]
- [WRSCI n.d.] Washington Researchers Series on Competitive
Intelligence. How to Find Information about Companies: The
corporate intelligence sourcebook, Vol's 1 and 2 (HD2785 H68
1983) and Company Information: A model investigation.
Washington, DC: Washington Researchers, n.d. Some of their
- [Berkman 1990] Robert I. Berkman. Find it Fast: How to
uncover information on any subject, New York, NY: Hareper &
Row, 1990. AG105 B553 1990. Resources and strategies.
- Derdak, Thomas. International directory of company
histories. HD2721 I63 1988.
- Dun's Million Dollar Directory, HC102 D8.
- The Encyclopedia of Assocations, HS17 G32.
- Encyclopedia of business information sources. HF5030
- F&S index plus text on compact disc guide to codes.
- Hoover's Handbook (American Business: HG4057 A2862),
(World Business: HG4009 H66), (Emerging Companies: HG4057
- Industry norms and key business ratios. HF5681 R25
- The New York times index. AI21 N44.
- Standard and Poor's Corporation. Industry Surveys.
- S&P's Register of Corporations, Directors, and
Executives. HG4057 A41.
- U.S. industrial outlook. HC106.5 A24.
- The Value line investment survey. HG4501 V26.
Original draft 6-21-95. Revised 3-96. Revised