I attended the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals'
annual conference in Chicago last week. During the three days, I attended several classes and talked with many members of the business intelligence community including a few customers. I thought I would pass along some observations from the show.
- Ethics is always an important topic for SCIP members. Collecting information on competitors is a sticky topic for many companies and understanding what is acceptable for a competitive intelligence professional is difficult. One way to avoid ethical quandaries is to use sources available publicly, either on the Internet or from the U.S. government. Many companies that inquire about Zepol’s U.S. Customs trade data tool, TradeIQ, are relieved to find out that we receive all of our data through the United States’ Freedom of Information Act directly from the U.S. government.
- Proving a return on investment ensures that the value of CI professionals is measurable in their organizations. Value for competitive intelligence professionals is more about what
they can do with the information they collect than the price of the
service they use. I spoke with several people who reiterated this point by talking about how the best tools they use do not just spit out data, but transform it into organized information that creates knowledge. Knowledge allows CI professionals to show executives actionable intelligence that shows real, balance sheet impact.
- Michael Treacy gave a rousing keynote speech that hit home. Mr. Treacy talked specifically about how CI professionals can use the fundamentals he detailed in his book Double Digit Growth to grow their organizations. Understanding how business intelligence departments can provide the knowledge that executives need to make informed, smart decisions about the future of their companies is essential to achieve sustainable growth instead of stagnant results. While luck is part of how companies succeed, a methodology of choosing the correct path by allowing ideas to compete multiplies success in the long term.