A perennial struggle for CI professionals is getting senior leadership to share the strategic purpose behind CI requests. At this year’s annual SCIP International Conference, I heard lots of frustrated folks talk about this. How do you get your stakeholders to address what prompted the need for intelligence, why the issue is important, and what they hope to accomplish with additional insight from CI? Without the answers to those questions, it’s impossible to deliver the most valuable, relevant analysis.
When your company’s leaders don’t understand how to use strategic competitive intelligence, and you aren’t positioned to understand what decision your analysis is going to inform, you risk failing to deliver the most useful insights because you don’t understand how they might be used. Moreover, you can’t follow up with sufficient detail for your customers to feel comfortable acting on the material. Even worse, you risk losing credibility by failing to put your material in context.
If that happens regularly, you are likely to find that your department has become marginalized.
So, what can you do to mitigate these risks? You likely heard a lot of advice at SCIP: manage up so you can get a seat at the table; ask lots of questions; push your customers to explain the why behind their request.
That's all good advice, but I think the most important thing you can do is network internally. From the conversations I participated in, it’s clear that CI is still a black box to a lot of business leaders. It’s probably going to be up to you to educate others in your organization about what CI is and how it can contribute to better strategy. If you believe that CI can contribute to your company’s overall success (you do believe that, right?) then you will have to find a way to talk about CI so that others can understand how your contributions will support their efforts.
If you’ve socialized CI successfully in your company, I’d love to hear about it.