Le Concert: The recent evolution of Competitive Intelligence

Two seemingly contradictory indicators have emerged in a past survey of the GIA on global trends in Competitive Intelligence. They will attract the attention of every professional in a Management position:

  • Intelligence teams have been reduced by 7% in two years.
  • Internal intelligence networks have grown by 15% over the same period!

How do we interpret these figures? Have we increased or decreased resources devoted to intelligence in the corporate world?

The conclusion is that they have increased significantly: We have fewer full time staff working on Competitive Intelligence, but many more people engaged part time. We must take into account that internal intelligence networks involve per se many more individuals than the specialized intelligence departments.

Let us take the example of the Quality function: Initially, when the concept of Quality was new, there was a person in charge of leading the Quality function in the company, to be aware of standards, create procedures... A small group of people comprised the first Quality circles, and progress occurred. But now, under the concept of Total quality, each and every one of the staff in the company are involved in the quality of their work. Similarly, the concept of the Intelligent Enterprise cannot take place unless the Intelligence function permeates all areas of the company.

  This reduction in staff devoted 100% to Intelligence is outweighed by the significant increase in the part-time intelligence network. The person responsible for the Intelligence function no longer heads a Department of analysts. He coordinates Intelligence across the whole company. Like the conductor of an orchestra, where each individual is an expert in their field and knows how to carry out their activity perfectly, better than the director himself, whose function is to coordinate the team. In this antara video (in Spanish), in 2012 this concept of of social intelligence coordination was already put forward based on the knowledge of every manager in their area.

And this is just the beginning. New Collaborative Intelligence tools are increasingly facilitating the dissemination of the Intelligence function to new areas of the company. Not only will the Product Development department monitor new technologies and the proposals of competitors, or the Legal Department monitor patents and trademarks that clash with ours, but the sales team monitor and share early information about customer risk, and People Management will pay attention to new ideas for talent management. Total Intelligence, in each of the activity areas of the company.

But the Head of Intelligence coordinates not only how information is captured and analyzed. Also how it is spread among staff and findings are presented to management. But this last is an issue which we will discuss in another post.

What the evolution of these indicators show us is an unstoppable trend towards dissemination of the intelligence function within companies. As an expert in intelligence in Sao Paulo said: Have the smallest Intelligence Department in the world, with the largest number of analysts in the world.

(Le Concert is a 2009 French comedy, directed by Radu Mihăileanu)


By Miguel Borrás


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The opinions of the authors reflect their own views, and not those of the company.