By Dr. Ben Gilad and Leonard Fuld, ACI Faculty

Almost all of the Fortune 500 companies today recognize the need for competitive intelligence (CI), though not all interpret the role the same way. The vast majority of these large companies designates dedicated intelligence analysts but also assigns CI responsibilities and training to managers in market-facing functions such as business development, marketing, strategic planning, product management, and innovation.

Though the discipline is now widely adopted among Western corporations, the absolute number of CI-trained managers in companies is still relatively small. That means executives and their HR departments have little real data to base decisions on necessary skills and how to best recruit, utilize, appraise, or compensate those delivering competitive intelligence. A recent study by the FGH Academy of CI may help.

The study reveals some good development, especially on how companies utilize CI, which can serve as a benchmark for the placement of CI analysts. The study also reveals some bad habits by which companies miss out on deploying CI correctly, and finally, the study demonstrates unequivocally the ugly consequences.


The essence of effective CI utilization is to use it to accurately assess the moves and countermoves of third parties – be they competitors, customers, regulators or “disruptors” (a favorite buzz word of late). These same third parties are the major factor behind new products’ high failure rate at launch (the other factor is internal difficulties in execution). Table 1 suggests companies are doing a good job in some areas of deploying CI, and not so good in exactly those that can benefit greatly.

Table 1: Business decisions and use of CI

good bad ugly chart

Sometime, it’s best to just let the numbers speak

The Good (N=211)

Chart 1: Accepting CI

Chart 1 spells impressive overall acceptance of the discipline of CI, a huge progress compared to even a few years ago. But–

The Bad (N-211)

Chart 2: Still ignoring CI?

Chart 2 suggests many decisions are still taken without regard to the competitive environment. The consequence —

The Ugly (N=203)


Chart 3: The consequence of ignoring CI

Forty six percent of the respondents could think of instances of “I told you so”. Every instance of “I told you so” sentiment represents a decision that went badly because CI was ignored. In other words, forty six percent of managers in this study witnessed bad outcomes that could have been avoided.

Which side of this chart does your company fall into?