The diverse alumni from the Fuld Gilad Herring Academy of Competitive Intelligence work in many industries across the world. In this edition of the ACI Virtual Roundtable, we asked a selection of our alumni:


What is one lesson you wish you had learned before starting your CI career?

Decisions at the executive and board levels are made by a combination of data, good information, and gut feelings. Gut feelings tend to minimize the effect of good data and information. This is mainly because of their beliefs systems and what drives these executives.

Before I started my career in strategy and CI, I would have wanted to know this very fact. Professor Gilad explained very well in his take on Michael Porter’s competitor analysis four corner framework.

A twist to this model allows you to construct a similar analysis on your company and understand the likely response from your own executives. Knowing how they react to data, and information allows the CI or strategy analyst to formulate his own approach at leading and influencing a particular direction. Of course, this is a double-edged sword, because it requires the analyst (often in the low power position of the equation) to take and defend a position. Being right will likely grant internal recognition, but being wrong will definitely cause lots of pain.

Gabriel Villasmil
Director Strategy & Corporate Development
Aegion Corporation

If there is one lesson I wish I had learned before starting down the path of strategy and competitiveness it would be this: resist mediocrity and question your beliefs at all times.

Luciano Oviedo

I would have found a way to make multiples of myself!

In all seriousness, I would have built a better “self-service” infrastructure that allowed our sales team to explore the intelligence we had gathered on their own. I spent a lot of time explaining our intelligence to the sales team that would have been better spent on more strategic activities.

Madelyn Gengelbach
Vice President, Strategic Marketing

I wish I had developed a better financial and microeconomic understanding of business with a consideration that Competitive Intelligence is not simply about gathering data points. These elements are essential in understanding competitive strategy, the ultimate goal of competitive intelligence. These key concepts are foundational to one’s competitive advantage and determinants that are the grounding point for which future developments largely depend on.

Peg Wright
Market Manager – Consumer/Business Insights

I think the one lesson I have learned (and this applies to all major initiatives), is to get executive sponsorship and visibility.

This is not something that one person in the organization can do – it requires teamwork. Without visibility and continual drive, the efforts probably will fall flat. CI is a continuous process of information gathering, assessment and dissemination to the right people.

Natalie Bryden
Global Market Research Manager
Dimension Data

Competitive Intelligence is really so much more than just the competitor. Initially, I was hesitant as CI seemed so specific – but it really encompasses the organization’s entire environment and strategy.

Maria Conatser
General Manager, Analytics & Reporting
Ingram Barge Company

Do you have any lessons you wish you had learned before beginning your career in Competitive Intelligence? Please share your insights in the comments section below…