© The Financial Times Ltd 2014 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
Competitive intelligence is the process of searching and scanning information through legal and professional practices and analysing and forwarding the valuable information to decision-makers. Competitive intelligence is a way to gain a strategic leverage thanks to the management of information.
Having access to the right information at the right moment is considered as a powerful strategic advantage. It can be an inside and discrete activity or a more global and collective project through professional unions or clusters.
Competitive intelligence has been largely structured in the past few years. The value of business information has led to the development of specialised consultants. A debate occurred at the occasion of illegal practices of few firms, although it’s no longer competitive intelligence but spying and corporate espionage.
Entering a foreign market, selecting a new partner, managing a merger or acquisition, recruiting a top executive… all these activities should be structured through a competitive intelligence process. For example energy firms such as Total or GDF Suez are famous for their competitive intelligence teams.
Competitive intelligence is now a basic part of strategy, marketing and sales analysts' work. In our knowledge economy, the availability of business information is tremendous and routines in scanning the competitive environment definitely worth it. A structured and dynamic process can be rapidly efficient and powerful.