Competitive Intelligence: Linking Strategy to a Functional Intelligence

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Some years ago when the most things in economy were invariable: stock prices were raising and the whole business market succeed, the strategic planning was the strong and pretty enough source of firm’s success. The years passed and with globalization of economy, changes in information technology, in the financial system, in just-in-time production techniques and many others, the situation had changed. The world markets are now dictating new conditions to firm’s survival and success in terms of limited resources, great competition, uncertainty and lack of time. In such a situation firms failed to stay competitive any long by planning their production only, the new competitive strategy was needed.

In order to be successful, firm needs to adapt to SWOT analysis reports any changes in the market, they need to be flexible. Firms have a growing need for the necessary information on which to base their decisions. Companies that correctly analyze competitor, market, and customer information, and then take action on it in a proper time, will always gain a competitive advantage. The idea which combines all this is competitive intelligence which is according to Wikipedia dictionary “the action of defining, gathering, analyzing, and distributing competitive intelligence about products, customers, competitors and any aspect of the environment needed to support executives and managers in making strategic decisions for an organization”.

This idea is not young. For the first time the advice to invest time and energy learning about competition was given by the great Japanese swordsman and strategist Miyamoto Musashi who lived in beginning of 17-th century in his genius “Book of Five Rings”. Firm must know where and how its competitor will strike, identify opponent’s weaknesses. In such a way it will easily defeat him and no matter whether he has technical advantage or not.

Every firm must have its strategy which is the way how leaders of the firm plan to achieve a specific goal or set of goals or objectives which are always directed on existence and growth. The strategy means how business should be conduct to achieve the desired goals. Having a good strategy and executing the strategy well, does not guarantee firm success. It can be reached with business intelligence, the purpose of which is reducing uncertainty in competition. Intelligence makes measurable impact on its daily activities, must be tightly interconnected to overall leadership’s strategies in order to make faster and more robust decisions with less information.

Strategy and intelligence must be as tightly interlinked as the two DNA strands: the strategy always collects ideas about how to win a conflict, competitive intelligence helps to craft the right questions, to address the right problem, make the priority. With reliable competitive intelligence about a target, planners can develop the best strategy. Businesses without a reliable intelligence function have a high uncertainty in preparation and antagonists, each action has a great number of unexpected responses that we have to combine and organize. The matter of the fact is that information is always limited, often useless, false or outdated and companies must use great competitive intelligence potential to survive.