Pros and Cons of Expert Interviews for Competitive Intelligence Data Collection - dummies

Pros and Cons of Expert Interviews for Competitive Intelligence Data Collection

By James D. Underwood

In some ways, leading an organization into the future with the help of competitive intelligence is just like flying in a fog – relying on the mechanical instruments rather than the pilot’s vision. Sometimes the only way to see into the future is through the use of CI.

When you add experts and expert panels into the mix, you gain not only insight into the future but also skilled copilots to provide additional information and insight. Your vision is clearer, which helps you make better decisions.

You really don’t need to weigh the pros and cons of expert interviews in order to gauge their value and decide whether to conduct such interviews. The value is obvious. However, below are some of the primary benefits just in case you need some further convincing . . . or you need to convince a supervisor to free up some money to cover the cost.

There are also a few potential drawbacks so you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into and can steer clear of the most common pitfalls.

Potential benefits of expert interviews

When combined with CI, experts and expert panels offer the following benefits:

  • Insight into and understanding of future events, such as consumer trends or adoption of developing technologies

  • Corroboration of internal intel — a way to double-check the CI team’s conclusions

  • Additional, unexpected intelligence that often bubbles to the surface during interviews (for example, in the process of polling expert panels, they’re often willing to go far beyond the scope of the information requested and provide rich additional competitor data)

  • Valuable contact for future intel

The potential benefits of conducting expert interviews (almost) always outweigh the potential drawbacks. You’ll walk away from these interviews knowing more than you did prior to conducting them.

Possible drawbacks of expert interviews

As with any endeavor, conducting expert interviews carries a few potential drawbacks, including the following:

  • If you’re not careful, you may ask biased questions, essentially destroying the value of any information you collect.

  • You may tip your hand to one of the experts. In the course of an interview, your questions may reveal too much about your area of interest; for example, if you’re considering expansion into a new market, one of the experts you’re interviewing may figure out your company’s strategy.

  • Some experts may be stuck in the past or have some other type of bias that influences how they respond. If you’re conducting a group interview, a stubborn expert may doom your efforts to bring the group to consensus.

Almost all the potential drawbacks of conducting expert interviews are attributed to the process of preparing for and conducting interviews, which means you can avoid many of these possible downsides through careful planning and preparation.