Consumer vs. Producer

Overcoming the Disconnect between Management and Competitive Intelligence

Douglas C. Bernhardt
Business Research Group S.A., Switzerland


The practice of competitive intelligence (CI) in largescale organisations remains, for the most part, an exercise in futility. Despite the obvious logic in the maxim that .intelligence exists to support informed decisionmaking., it is, in the main, corporate decisionmakers themselves who are first to balk at the notion of an organised intelligence mechanism or 'some sort of competitor intelligence system' (Porter 1980) designed to provide accurate and timely intelligence about the most critical threats facing the organisation. The effects of this dilemma are twofold.

First, intelligence fails to make a material impact on management decisionmaking, or at best is treated as secondary to that of other forces both inside and outside the organisation. The value of competitive intelligence and those who produce it are therefore not optimised. Clearly 'individual managers in various functional areas tailor information acquisition to their own (individual) needs', but for the most part 'these activities exist in parallel (with formalised organisational needs) with little or no interaction' (Gibbons and Prescott 1992). Unfortunately, ad hoc intelligence gathering. adds little to mobilising the institutional knowledge assets of the firm.