Can SK become a Canadian Hub for Collaborative and Integrated CI?

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Competitive Intelligence (CI) is an ever-evolving field. Its acronym is quickly becoming linked with another “C” and an “I” – Collaborative and Integrated. It’s almost as if one is an enabler of the other, and this “new” function of Competitive Intelligence cannot progress without it being Collaborative and Integrated.

If you want to learn a bit more about Competitive Intelligence and how to potentially implement it in your organization, read Four (fairly) simple steps to jump start your Competitive Intelligence program.

Group of Multiethnic Busy People Working in an Office

The concept of collaboration and integration isn’t a novel one for the Competitive Intelligence field. What I’m proposing is a broader “community” aspect of Competitive Intelligence, where individuals are collaborative and integrated not only inside their organizations, but outside as well. The Intelligence practitioner community across Canada is growing, but these individuals are spread across various companies, geographic locations and functions with little means of connecting with their peers.

Saskatchewan’s Competitive Intelligence community has been rapidly gaining ground in the past year or so, with interest spreading across various organizations. Individuals are eager to learn and apply concepts to their situations, with discussion happening on a higher, strategic level across the province.

Although there are still only a few individuals who identify with the Competitive Intelligence field, they have become catalysts for CI growth in the province. The growth factor in all of this is the discussions occurring are focusing on how individuals can work together in understanding our operating environments from a much broader perspective. I believe the next generation of Competitive Intelligence needs formal recognition as being Collaborative and Integrated – CI2. Saskatchewan has the opportunity to create a community where the model of CI2 could develop, flourish and create actionable insights that influence the broader community.

Formalizing the Function

When organizations start implementing a more formalized approach to their intelligence gathering and analytical efforts, it usually starts off very individualistic and separate from anything else that already exists in the organization. In the first few years:

  • The function of CI forms a self-identity and primarily starts off as being reactive, responding to one-off requests from clients.
  • The outputs, findings and recommendations all usually tend to come from the Intelligence team with little interaction with their clients.
  • Those of us setting up an Intelligence team realize we need to be more collaborative with our projects, and that we need to use others across our organization in gathering and analyzing data.

The biggest challenge I would say any CI team has (small or big, young or mature), is getting feedback from their clients after the final report and deliverable is submitted. In most instances, the discussion would end there, but in some world-class CI organizations, discussions don’t end.  Individuals explore the findings, discuss their implications, ask more questions, refine some of the scenarios and continue with their intelligence efforts in what is now a collaborative and integrated approach (CI2).

Does this mean everyone should always talk about and do CI?

To some degree, everyone already does talk about and do CI, even without realizing it sometimes. In our daily activities, we all read or hear something that might require more analytics. We conduct our analysis – formal and informal. We come up with potential actionable solutions to challenges. We ask and explore more questions.

The point I’m trying to discuss is that once Competitive Intelligence becomes Collaborative and is Integrated throughout the organization, it then becomes something that nearly everyone does, and does with a purpose (Click to tweet this!). When people understand their role within the intelligence cycle, they come to share information and insights that have the most relevance and provide actionable outcomes to their needs.

So what about Collaboration and Integration applies to CI?

A collaborative CI function means individuals, who to a certain extent are users and clients of intelligence, become practitioners. They share their knowledge and expertise. They ask questions and provide insights from their perspectives. The intelligence process becomes a collaborative effort in trying to answer common intelligence questions.

When other functions, such as Finance, Business Development, Sales, Strategy, Risk, Human Resources, Marketing, and Information Services, as well as Research and Development, understand how CI fits into some of their processes and find ways to work together on key questions, that’s when CI becomes integrated throughout the organization. Its efforts become directed to specific needs and its analytics are enhanced as a result of new learnings.

Back to Saskatchewan

Let’s go back to the initial question of whether Saskatchewan can become the hub for Collaborative and Integrated Competitive Intelligence (CI2) in Canada.

Based on the current environment, growth and appetite for CI, coupled with my interactions and discussions around Competitive Intelligence, I definitely think there is potential. Public and private organizations across Saskatchewan, and various associations, as well as a number of leaders, are becoming very proactive with their intelligence efforts in and outside of their immediate operating networks.

We have the potential in Saskatchewan to create a Collaborative and Integrated network of practitioners who are proactively working together to understand the challenges we face, now and in the future; to try and build out scenarios that encourage positive growth and have impacts on the communities within and outside of this province.

We can set an example for the rest of Canada of what a CI2 community could look like. Think you’d like to contribute to the growth of a CI2 community? Don’t know how? Let’s talk! Leave a comment below.