How to conduct Competitive Intelligence

In this article, we offer our thoughts on how to conduct Competitive Intelligence(CI). The most enjoyable thing about CI is that every project is different, but based on the same simple process. The Military Intelligence Cycle. Competitive Intelligence is the deliberate, consistent, purposeful and coordinated monitoring and information gathering, analysis business information about your competitors in a specific marketplace.


The initial step is to define the objectives and what you want to do with Competitive Intelligence. What’s the end goal of the project? The end goal should be to take action from what you find out. Start with understanding what you already know about your competitors, what data is missing about them. Then sit down and define a set of questions which will answer all you need to know. Then see if you can remove some of the questions. Nice to know questions are usually the most troublesome to answer. The best way to make use of CI is to try and understand what your competitors are going to do next. This activity is going to have the most significant impact on your business.

Collection strategies 

Evaluate your current data collection activities helps to isolate where you can get rid of it, need more of it and what’s completely missing. Then work out how easier, and feasible is it to find the data. Also, how much will the collection cost? A well planned and operated CI project will increase it’s value to you over time. Now, historical information is also useful as it will allow you to find patterns, habits and importantly understand how they make decisions. CI should not sit on a shelf. Rather than gathering dust CI end products should be gathering feedback. And further insights from people within your company.

Analysis and reporting

When analysing and reporting, it is important to assess who the report is for and who will read it. Different audiences will expect different things and will read into the CI in various ways. Your Intelligence report must be a simple and straight forward as possible. Not because people are stupid, but they will read the report within a different viewpoint. 


There is no value in Competitive Intelligence which reports something that has already happened, and you don’t have the chance to decide what to do and then do something about it. If you are conducting CI on an ongoing basis (which you should be really), then you need to have the everything up to date when the senior management teams are building their strategic business plans and the like. 

Write a story 

Best CI is offered to a reader as a story and which provides the essential findings and proposed options upfront. And even suggest the costs of not taking the proposed options on offer and ignoring the Intelligence.


In this article, we offered our thoughts on how to conduct Competitive Intelligence. We have explained what CI is and what you need to do to make a project more successful. 

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