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Your competitive intelligence cheat sheet

Contrary to what a few folks believe, competitive intelligence (CI) does not involve digging through trash bins or spying. It’s more civilized—and far more challenging—than that.

Competitive intelligence looks at the many disparate elements in the business universe that affect the ability to compete. Competitors are just one part of the whole picture, and this one segment can include indirect competitors, substitute competitors, as well as new and emerging competitors.

An effective business strategy includes knowing today’s truth—both inside and outside your industry.  Every business is impacted by the outside world, so it’s necessary to know the changes facing your distributors, suppliers, customers, and the industries indirectly related to yours. It requires an understanding of the changes in the economy, with societal attitudes and demographics, technology, and regulations.

CI reveals current business realities that are unknown to most executives, and provides clues about what the near future holds. It provides informed risk and competitive advantage based on knowledge—not assumptions, not predictions.

The market is not what you think it is. It’s difficult to accept this, especially if you’re a seasoned executive.  But business changes quickly, in unexpected and unpredictable ways.  We are constantly surprised and run the risk of being caught off guard. Competitive intelligence is your reality check.