Are you collecting Competitor Information or providing Competitive Intelligence? Ten signs to help you decide.

While at the recent Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals event in 2015, I was surprised by a growing gap in the field. All around the exhibit hall, in the presentations and in networking discussions, there were deep discussions on tools and techniques to gather information about a competitor’s actions, strategies, and products. This is indeed useful for any CI professional, but limiting the focus to information misses the role of intelligence.

I developed a ten point list to help you differentiate between competitor information and competitive intelligence. Knowing which is which will help you move from an information-gathering role into a more impactful decision-support role.

Ten signs that you’re providing Competitor Information:

10. You’re asked to provide information about the competitors that answer a “Who, What, When, Where, How” kind of question
9. The follow-up questions ask you to go deeper into a narrow part of the information you’ve presented
8. People who receive the information you provide challenge it based on contrary facts
7. Your role is to provide competitor information that will be used to fill out analysis templates, but not to participate in completions
6. Whenever there is a question about a competitor, you’re the go-to person for the details
5. You’re expected to keep track of every single action the competitors take and to know about all of their products and services
4. You know the competitors’ market share, financials, and growth rates to the second decimal point
3. Most of your work consists of completing data searches using a wide range of data providers
2. You provide a regular company-wide new report on the competitors
1. Your CEO tells you that they could find everything you gave them on Google

And to offer a contrasting perspective, here are ten signs that you are providing Competitive Intelligence:

10. You use Google as a news source
9. The reports you prepare include a section on recommendations for further action, and when you present data you also provide your interpretation of what the data means to the company
8. The questions you most often get include a “why” component
7. You are challenged on your interpretation of the data, not the data itself
6. You’re asked to participate in the analysis and strategy development sessions
5. You know your competitors’ strategies and tactics, and you can predict how they will act in a hypothetical or real situation
4. When the company is developing strategy, you’re part of the discussion, and your contributions are included in the process
3. You know the competitive landscape and ecosystem, and how your company fits in
2. People seek you out for your ability to model competitors’ behaviors
1. The CEO seeks you out for your perspective on major decisions

– Erik Glitman, CEO