CI 101/202 – Competitive Intelligence Planning & Collection

WHEN: Nashville, TN: November 9, 2020
SUMMARY: The fundamentals course for those just starting out in CI. Find creative, proven ways to develop the most timely intelligence on your competitors and on your market. Learn real-time, on the ground, ethical collection techniques and practical frameworks to analyze and predict competitive threats.

Fundamental competitive intelligence course, taught for over 30 years to analysts, managers, planners and researchers of nearly every large corporation globally. Human intelligence – publicly available information held by individuals with access to and knowledge of competitive issues and developments – is what sets competitive intelligence apart from other types of business research.  Highly interactive and hands-on course.

In this course:

  • The role human intelligence plays in the competitive intelligence process
  • Interview and elicitation techniques to gather relevant information against the highest ethical standards
  • The contribution of human intelligence to intelligence analysis and production

Here we list the key questions that this seminar addresses. If you can answer “yes” to three or more of the 10 questions posed for this course, it will meet your needs.

Do you need to…

  1. Expand your information sources beyond those available online?
  2. Tap into human knowledge that resides within your organization in a systematic way?
  3. Broaden your network of industry contacts so as to maintain stronger vigilance on industry activities and developments
  4. Take advantage of intelligence collection opportunities when meeting with customers, attending trade shows or conferences, talking to suppliers, or interacting with channel partners?
  5. Ensure that your organization is complying with industry-accepted standards for the ethical collection of competitive information from non-published sources?
  6. Learn how to apply fundamental social networking skills to uncover or allow you to access experts?
  7. Understand how professional networks can be utilized to broaden and enhance your or your organization’s industry expertise?
  8. Identify unique sources of highly specialized information, such as technical, customer, regulatory, or other knowledge?

All ACI programs teach students how to overcome the most challenging competitive intelligence issues. The following are sample lessons taught in this module:

Crossing Over the Line

Several years ago, a marketing manager from McNeil (the manufacturer of Tylenol®) stumbled onto a critical piece of competitor intelligence when visiting a printer/lithographer near his plant. While waiting to speak with the person who handled his account, he noticed glossy advertising proofs for Datril, a competing product, with “new, low prices” highlighted. When he mentioned the prices to the printer, he was told that they were part of a new campaign. The McNeil manager reported these facts at once to Tylenol® product management, which successfully mobilized a pre-emptive, price-cutting promotional campaign.


  1. Did the McNeil manager act ethically? What were his obligations to the printer? to McNeil management?
  2. What were the printer’s ethical obligations
  3. What would you do if you were:-The McNeil manager? The printer? Datril management
  4. What are the critical ethical and legal guidelines each company should observe?


A U.S.-based privately held distributor of automotive parts is poised for expansion into a new market (either geographic or customer segment).  Can you effectively analyze various aspects of this company to determine their intentions?  What are the management’s goals?  What core competencies do they possess which are applicable to new markets?  What market segments are poised for growth?


  1. What aspects of the business will make it more or less difficult to collect against?
  2. What information sources exist across the spectrum? Open source? Human source?
  3. What types of human sources should you prioritize? What approach should you take?
  4. Where are some of the richest information sources available on privately held companies or on subsidiaries of publicly traded corporations?


The Human Source Collection Challenge. You and your colleagues have planned to attend two of the major trade shows in your industry this coming year. You realize that the trade show is probably the greatest single source of critical and timely intelligence in your industry. The problem is that you often feel lost at these huge events, tending to spend more time collecting literature or promoting your own product or service. At the same time, you realize that your rivals have invested a good deal of time watching you and your customers.


  1. How do you create an effective, efficient collection plan?
  2. Who coordinates the effort?, What should his or her checklist of tasks look like?
  3. How do you capture vital intelligence on your chief rival, knowing that it does not want you anywhere near its booth or private suite?
  4. How do you communicate vital intelligence to your senior management in a timely way during the course of the show itself?
  5. What does an effective intelligence report look like and how do you write one, considering the time pressures and high-level of accuracy needed?