+353-1-416-8900REST OF WORLD
1-800-526-8630U.S. (TOLL FREE)

Developing a Successful Competitive Intelligence Program

  • ID: 42697
  • Report
  • March 2000
  • 135 pages
  • American Productivity & Quality Center, APQC
1 of 4
Successful competitive intelligence (CI) programs do more than simply allow you to react to market developments—they allow you to anticipate them. Business intelligence provides you with the knowledge and foresight to spot weaknesses and opportunities in both your strategy and your competitors’.
This study marks the fourth consortium benchmarking study on competitive intelligence conducted by the International Benchmarking Clearinghouse, a service of the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC). The three previous studies were titled Competitive and Business Intelligence: Leveraging Information for Action, Managing Competitive Intelligence Knowledge in a Global Economy, and Effective Strategic and Tactical Competitive Intelligence for the Sales and Marketing Functions. Building on its successful predecessors, this study, conducted in partnership with the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP), focused on developing a competitive intelligence structure, mobilizing resources to implement the CI program, creating action-oriented products and services to improve the speed and quality of decision making, and measuring and evolving the CI program. The purpose of this multicompany benchmarking study was to identify and examine best practices in the development of a successful competitive intelligence program. The goal of the study was to enable participants to compare their own competitive intelligence programs against other CI programs and thus to identify any performance gaps or opportunities for improvement.

This benchmarking initiative also afforded participants the opportunity to gain a better understanding of issues and challenges involved in developing a successful intelligence program. Thirty companies participated in the benchmarking study by attending a series of planning sessions, completing data gathering surveys, and/or attending or hosting on-site interviews. Of those 30 companies, 19 sponsored the study (“sponsor companies”). Twelve companies, including one of the sponsor companies, were identified as having strong competitive intelligence programs in place and were invited to participate in the study as benchmarking partners (“partner companies”).


Drawing input from subject matter expert (SME) Dr. John Prescott and secondary research literature, the APQC study team identified four key areas for
research. These areas guided the design of the data collection instruments and were the basis on which findings were developed. A brief description of the four areas is provided below.

1. Developing the role, administration, and structure of the CI program
- Building the business case for CI
- Developing the CI mission and code of ethics
- Determining key intelligence topics and the use of intelligence audits
- Selecting the location and model and developing the budget for the CI program
- Linking CI efforts throughout the organization
- Selecting CI personnel (manager, analyst, information specialist, etc.) and determining required skills and compensation

2. Mobilizing organizational resources to implement the CI program
- Implanting a CI culture
- Developing/raising organizational awareness of CI’s role
- Developing the human collection network
- Developing cross-functional links and incentives for sharing CI
- Leveraging IT to collect, analyze, and disseminate CI
- Developing links with knowledge management efforts
- Implementing cross-functional CI projects

3. Creating action-oriented CI products and services to improve speed and
quality of decision making
- Fostering the direct involvement of senior-level decision makers
- Understanding decision makers’ CI needs
- Integrating CI into decision making
- Understanding CI product characteristics that impact decision making
- Creating the CI products and services portfolio
- The role of analysis and analytical techniques
- The importance of demonstration projects
- The role of CI training
- Vendor qualification

4. Measuring and evolving the CI program to meet changing organizational
- Soliciting feedback regarding CI products
- Evaluating the effectiveness of CI programs
- Understanding how and why CI programs evolve
- Developing global CI capabilities
- Understanding the role of CI consultants


The partner and sponsor organizations participating in this study exhibited many significant differences in the processes, policies, and approaches used in developing a successful competitive intelligence program. They shared a wealth of information related to how they initiated their CI efforts, grew them over time, and integrated them into the fiber of their organizations. Our approach to developing the findings was to concentrate on assessing how partner companies developed and evolved their CI programs. Whenever possible we developed process models for the key findings and provided detailed descriptions of them in this report, which also contains a variety of process overviews for the partner companies. In many cases, partner companies
developed diagrams of their processes and key functions.


The consortium benchmarking methodology was developed in 1993 and serves as one of the premier methods for successful benchmarking in the world. It was recognized by the European Center for Total Quality Management in 1995 as first among 10 leading benchmarking organizations’ models. It is an extremely powerful tool for identifying best and innovative practices and for facilitating the actual transfer of these practices. Secondary research conducted was used to help identify innovative companies to participate as best-practice partners. In addition to this research, APQC staff members and the subject matter expert identified potential participants based on their own firsthand experiences and research.

The data collection tools used to gather information are:
- Screening Questionnaire: qualitative questions designed to identify
best practices;
- Detailed Questionnaire: quantitative questions designed to collect
objective and quantitative data, and
- Site Visit Discussion Guide: qualitative questions designed to collect qualitative information about targeted aspects of competitive intelligence practices.

Six of the 12 partner companies hosted half-day site visits, allowing sponsors to meet with key personnel and share their competitive intelligence strategies and practices. A group of consortium members attended each site visit to participate in the discussion and to experience various programs firsthand.
All partner companies responded to the Screening Questionnaire, and partners and sponsors responded to the Detailed Questionnaire. The total number of respondents to the quantitative portion of the study is 16 sponsors and 12 partners. (Two sponsor companies did not participate in the quantitative portion. Quantitative data for the one company that was both a sponsor and a partner are reported along with other partner company data.) Only six partner companies were asked to respond to the Site Visit Discussion Guide during on-site interviews.
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown
2 of 4


3 of 4
- Sponsor and Partner Organizations

A listing of the sponsor organizations in this study, as well as the best-practice (“partner”) organizations that were benchmarked for their innovation and advancement in competitive intelligence.

- Executive Summary

A bird’s-eye view of the study, presenting the key findings discovered and the methodology used throughout the course of the study. The findings are explored in detail in following sections.

- Key Findings

An in-depth look at the eight key findings of this study. The findings are supported by quantitative data and qualitative examples of practices employed by the partner organizations.

- Partner Organization Profiles

Background information on the partner organizations, as well as their innovative competitive intelligence practices.
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown
4 of 4
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown