CI 101/202 – Competitive Intelligence Planning & Collection

WHEN: October 24, 2024 Virtual
SUMMARY: The foundational course for those starting out in CI and for those seeking to develop a firm grounding in CI research and research management. Experienced practitioners will receive a refresher on data collection techniques, as the course is required for complete certification. You will find creative, proven ways to develop the most timely intelligence on your competitors, your market, and issues that impact your competitiveness. Learn real-time, on the ground, ethical collection techniques and practical frameworks to analyze and predict competitive threats and protect the quality of your intelligence inputs. Panel discussion included with Melissa Allen from Caterpillar, Troy Pfeffer former Intelligence Director for a fortune 500 B2B service provider, Meghan DeWitt Assoc. Dir. CI from Memorial Sloan Kettering and Craig McHenry Council of CI Fellows.

melissa allen
kevin curren

The foundational 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. Combine this with targeted published sources and social media to harness the intelligence landscape. Learn when to apply each technique, how to complement them for seamless intelligence, and essential collection techniques. A highly interactive and hands-on course, including an interactive Q&A panel at the end with two leading practitioners (Academy’s alumni).

In this course:

  • The roles human intelligence, published sources, and social media play in the competitive intelligence process and the collection landscape.
  • Interview, elicitation, and other collection techniques to gather relevant information under the highest ethical standards.
  • Design and align your collection methods to specific intelligence and analytical requirements.
  • Create a systematic and seamless intelligence research and collection function using tested principles, tools, and techniques.
  • How to manage common challenges to research: efficiency, resources, information gaps, biases, information overload, and disinformation.
  • How companies manage their in-house and outsourced collection and research – case studies via panel discussion

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…

Create more targeted, coordinated, and effective intelligence research capabilities?

Minimize information and intelligence gaps?

Access more timely and relevant information – and intelligence?

Systematically tap into human knowledge and intelligence that resides within your organization for greater engagement and impact?

Keep ahead of emerging and evolving issues that can have high impact on your organization, industry, or supply chain?

Broaden your network of industry and expert contacts to maintain stronger situational awareness and vigilance on external activities and developments?

Take advantage of intelligence collection opportunities when engaging with customers, attending traditional or virtual trade shows or conferences, talking to suppliers, or interacting with channel partners?

Ensure that your organization is complying with standards for ethical collection of competitive information?

Identify and apply unique sources of specialized information and perspectives from technical, customer, regulatory, or other domains?

Overcome common research challenges: accessing the “best” sources and methods, avoiding wasted time in research and collection, minimizing biases, managing information overload, minimizing the impact of false information or disinformation.


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?