How to Monitor the Global Environment for Competitive Intelligence

Before you start collecting data for your competitive intelligence analysis, you need to know what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for an answer to a specific question, your purpose and scope are clear.

For example, if you want to find out whether acquiring a certain company is a good decision, your purpose is to find out if that company would help yours achieve its strategic goals, and your scope is limited to that company or other companies that may be more attractive.

When monitoring the overall competitive environment, on the other hand, your purpose and scope are much broader. Your purpose is to identify potential opportunities and threats and avoid mistakes, and your scope is global. When your purpose and scope are broad, consider focusing your efforts on ten-forces analysis — collecting and analyzing information that pertains to the ten forces that affect any organization.

Executives and managers tend to operate with a very narrow focus, basing their decisions on internal data and perhaps expanding their scope to include information about direct competitors. In today’s world, however, organizations are often impacted by entities and events that are clearly external to their own operations and even beyond the markets in which they compete.

Furthermore, organizations don’t have the power or reach to influence many of the factors that impact their operations. Just look at how the movie-rental industry has changed over the years in response to technologies like streaming video and high-tech vending machines.

As you’re formulating the purpose and scope for your CI function, think outside the circle of your own company and even beyond the circle that encompasses your competitive market to consider forces that reside in the global environment.

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