SCIP’s IntelliCon 2020

Originally scheduled for May, 2020, the Strategy and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) annual conference, made a radical, and successful transition to virtual in November, 2020. Fletcher/CSI (FCSI) has sponsored SCIP events for 20 years, attended for over 30 and can confidently say that this year’s event was a clear break from the past. Starting with the name, “IntelliCon” which reflects both the intelligence focus and the convention nature of the event, and a format that emphasized sessions focused on key topics, and a schedule that allowed participants to get regular work done while participating in the event, this was unlike any other SCIP event.

The FCSI team presented on three related topics.

The first session was on the topic of Win/Loss presented by Chad Stimson (COO) and Ellen Naylor. The duo discussed how strategic Win/Loss can identify performance improvements that go beyond the sales team and bring together multiple parts of the organization. Chad shared examples of cases where a single Win/Loss review would have missed a key competitive disadvantage in non-sales areas such as service. In the case study, Chad demonstrated how an issue found in some, but not all, Win/Loss evaluations would be missed if a strategic overview was not included. Once that larger perspective was brought to bear, action could be taken to remedy the issue.

Our second session also looked at Win/Loss and Fletcher’s CEO Erik Glitman was joined by two CI professionals from the corporate side to discuss how Win/Loss results can drive CI activities. This session used a combination of theory and practice to illustrate how Win/Loss indicators such as new competitors in the market or new products can trigger deeper CI research and concentration. One scenario presented was  a competitor showing up in a new market segment. This example showed how a company can use the one situation to develop a set of indicators for the CI unit to follow and determine if the new market was an outlier or a signal of a competitor’s new strategy.

Our third session was a facilitated discussion with CI consultants Erik Glitman (FCSI) and Peter Kenseth (Maia Strategies) and corporate CI practitioners Patrick Sturgeon (Nestle Purina) and Dan Hamilton (Salesforce) on the topic of ethics in CI. In the discussion, issues around the boundary between what is legal and what is ethical were reviewed as they apply to CI collection and application. One area that got significant focus was around the ethics of using honoraria for interviews. While all agreed that paying a direct competitor was clearly unethical, a case was presented that if the interview screening was done by a third party who carefully eliminated any current or recent past employees of a direct competitor, it was acceptable to offer an honorarium. Countering that was an argument that if there are multiple layers of intermediaries between the interviewee and ultimate information user, and if the intermediaries are not informed of the end user’s company, it is hard, if not impossible, to be sure the interviewees are properly screened. The consensus was the best approach was to have as few steps between the information user and information source as possible and to rely on trusted partners

While we missed meeting in person, moving to a virtual format had several clear advantages for the attendees including no travel, less disruption in the routine, and the ability to attend in casual clothes. What was less noted were the advantages for the presenters. In this format, attendees could comment during the presentation and use the chat function to talk to each other without interrupting the presentation. This higher level of interactivity made the event a success.

In the coming years, we expect SCIP IntelliCon to move to a hybrid format as this will keep the best of the in-person model and layer on the best of the virtual model. Thank you to everyone who attended our sessions and participated in the discussions. We hope to see you all again next year!

Author: Erik Glitman, CEO Fletcher/CSI