By Dr. Ben Gilad, ACI Faculty

“Just what does a Competitive Intelligence analyst do all day?”

It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this question – in fact, it’s not even one of the first 50 times. The fact of the matter is that there are two answers to that question (possibly more, but I’m focusing on just two). First, there’s what a day looks like for a corporate analyst:

A life In a Day of a Corporate Analyst…

08:00 – Left home at 5:30 AM to beat traffic patterns. Didn’t beat traffic. Meeting in 20 minutes in room 304D for the product team’s market review. Need to scan the 700 page report from the MarketMonitor of Hot & Screwed research company on the new ingredient evolution is South Asia’s special mineral market with focus on Cambodia’s emerging growth with projections. Cost $7,500 and says nothing important. Projections are fantasy, anyway. Why do they keep buying it?

09:20 – Meeting started 30 minutes late. The product manager was all flustered because her VP chewed her ear off about a new ad ran by our competitor in the NCBXX TV channel in a suburb of Buenos Ayres showing a price that was 2 whole pesos lower than ours. She ripped the media rep from the BlueChipRedCharge agency for not informing her. He promised from now on she will get all 10,886 pages of media spending and ad scanning with share of voice charts in the Southern hemisphere every Monday at 5:00am.

09:25 – Got a call from the hysterical brand manager of our soon to be launched new product. He wanted a price comparison of the new product with every product available in the stores in the US. I got my wife to keep the Sunday inserts in our hometown so I can get the latest deals offered in our areas and summarize them in a chart for this guy. Called my CI vendor to gather circulars from all states major metro areas and cut out the coupons and send me a report. The account guy said it will cost $25,000. He promised to check with his boss if the scissors can be bought from the current budget.

11:00 – Just finished listening to a webinar by a company talking about ‘Searching Beyond Google’. Apparently I can find the name of the supplier for the printing promotion material for a local Indonesian competitor. That’s a breakthrough. They use a shade of blue we don’t on their package.

1:00 – Lunch. Lousy sandwich again at my desk. No time to waste. Need to read another 700 pages from Hot & Screwed on the emerging online market in widgets in Lima, Peru. Not sure why. Also 145 emails to answer. What’s the market share of competitor Z in eastern Russia’s modern trade stores? Better call my vendor. Just another relaxing lunch.

4:00 – Had a meeting with my boss. Asked her if I can go to training in CI since I am truly not sure why I am doing what I am doing. She says, no, she wasn’t trained, she just went to a conference in FL and she knows everything there is to know. She said I can watch some slides online.

6:00 – My boss called. A private equity company made a bid for our company. There will be job cuts. She was told our entire operation is under review. She doesn’t understand why. She always gets great compliments from the sales and product teams on the news clips we send them every Monday.

I need to brush on my Portuguese, I heard they are hiring in Brazil.

Not a lot of fun, and not a lot of rewards. Unfortunately, that’s the way a lot of people see competitive intelligence. If you read the above and thought to yourself, “Yep, that sounds about right”, get ready for a shock: a true analyst’s day looks nothing like that.

A day in the life of a true analyst

08:00 – Just got in. Meeting the executive team at 10:00. Need to finalize my presentation on early signals of change in the market. Decided to use 4 slides only.

12:00 – Fantastic meeting. CEO asked me to meet her later for a special assignment involving intelligence assessment of an acquisition prospect. Know her style- she would want my perspective on the candidate’s relative competitive positioning. May recommend a war game on that target’s market segment as competitors will react to our entry. Expect a month of hard work, so I will accept no other assignments for now. I am excited, though, to have impact. Great impact.

6:00 – Just finished reading my last seven issues of the Economist. Found an intriguing article on new technology applied by a different industry. Looked at my updated organizational network graph to see who in my CoP network is best to tap for more insight on this. Found two people, a broker and a bridge. Scheduled virtual conference with them.

6:30 – Someone called from a vendor selling something on the tradecraft of trolling social media using APIs. Promised they can also get me copies of the strategic plans of every competitor. Asked them why I would want to know that. They didn’t have an answer. Hang up. No time for ‘tradecraft’ junkies. Who in the name of my CIP™ would settle for this kind of stick-fetching job?

If you and your company are looking for more from your competitive intelligence role, take our CIP course and turn your days from stick-fetching drudgery to actual insightful analytics.