Thoughts on CI at the Start of 2014

The end of a calendar year offers most of us a chance to reflect on the past and review what was good, bad, and just average. For the world of CI, 2013 is closing in what seems to me to be an up year.

After the tumult of 2012, 2013 seemed almost calm. With a return to some normalcy, the CI world picked itself back up and got back to business. Companies that had slashed their CI budgets in 2012 woke up to find that their competitors had not hibernated and that markets had evolved. As the recovery in North America continued, companies also started to rebuild and CI units benefited with that growth.

With the recovery there has been a clear sea change in the CI world. Managers demand that CI demonstrate a real return and delivery value. We have seen this trend in several areas:

  • The old practice of sending out regular newsletters based on secondary data have fallen out of favor, replaced by focused, repeatable secondary sweeps backed with primary research
  • CI professionals who relied on secondary data are finding that their users have access to the same data, often at the same time, and now require greater insight. Layering on primary CI is giving the CI professional that insight
  • Data alone, never sufficient at any time, is now even less so. Busy managers don’t have the time, or in some cases the skills, to sift through data and produce their own analysis, so they now require that the CI units directly present to them the analysis and recommendations
  • Top-level managers have even less time. CI units that had been producing long-winded reports with detailed analysis are now shifting to single-page summaries and recommendations

These and other changes have had an impact on CI managers. Many have moved to an established CI function that is closer to a project manager, where they manage the contractors who do the CI work. Others have moved to function as implementers, taking the recommendations from their CI team and working cross-functionally to bring about change. My prediction is that we will always need the CI project manager, but that the true impact will come from the ones who can implement change.

In 2014, CI will continue to recover and adapt. Management teams will continue to demand that CI demonstrate value. More CI managers will outsource data collection and analysis as they move to demonstrate value by leading implementation teams. CI teams will get smaller and more focused on producing recommendations while leveraging third-party partners for data collection and analysis.

And the competition will get more intense.

– Erik Glitman, CEO