Top 10 Signs You Need a Third Party Competitive Intelligence Partner

Over the past thirty years that Fletcher/CSI has been in operation, we have formed some opinions about when a company should outsource some parts of its CI operation. One of our guiding principles is that the best use of the CI team is to drive change in the organization. In order to drive change, the team must spend more time on implementation, and less on data collection or even analysis. In part, this is because data collection, data analysis, and implementation each require different and unique skill sets. This is also because CI without implementation is ineffective at driving change, and implementation is best done with internal resources. We have collected a list of what we think are the top ten signs that you need a third-party CI partner.

Top Ten Signs You Need a Third Party Competitive Intelligence Partner

  1. You’re overloaded and can’t complete basic competitor monitoring or finish internal assignments
  2. There is a significant backlog of research which you can’t find time to complete
  3. You spend all your time collecting information and have no time for analysis
  4. You spend all your time on analysis and have no time to develop recommendations for action
  5. Your internal clients only listen to outside experts
  6. There is a short-term surge in demand that you can’t meet
  7. There is a research need that requires specialized knowledge to complete
  8. You need unbiased perspective to support a decision
  9. The information you need is only available from direct competitors who won’t talk to you
  10. Your time is better spent working internally to promote strategic and tactical changes based on CI findings

Top Ten Signs You Don’t Need a Third Party Competitive Intelligence Partner:

  1. You have a large staff, unlimited budget, access to every secondary database that is available, and believe that all the competitive intelligence you need can be collected using secondary data and artificial intelligence
  2. There is minimal interest in CI in your company and you have lots of time on your hands
  3. You live in a monopoly market and have no competitors
  4. You don’t trust the third party with your information
  5. Your main deliverable is a newsletter that gets sent to all employees and has no feedback mechanism
  6. You are convinced that you can get accurate and up-to-date intelligence on competitors for your internal staff
  7. You don’t want to get any bad news or challenge your market perspectives
  8. You believe a third-party CI partner will find something that threatens your company
  9. No one in your company pays attention anyway
  10. You know that you can do it better with internal resources

Of course, most of the top ten signs that you don’t need a third party are tongue in cheek. There really are very few instances where a third-party CI partner is a bad choice. The fundamental reason for hiring a third party is that they allow you to spend more time leveraging your internal networks to make recommendations and implement change.

-Erik Glitman, CEO