Article by Benjamin Gilad
A recent post on LinkedIn brilliantly described with a few visuals the different realities of what a CI professional actually does. It leads beautifully into this Skeptical Analyst’s post about a recent ad for a senior CI manager for a (very) large software company, part of an even larger legendary parent. Below are excerpts. My commentary is in Italic.
“…[the] Customer Engagement and Market Insights team is looking for a Senior Competitive Intelligence Manager to join us. In this role, you’ll help us make data-driven decisions through the use and analysis of targeted markets and competitive intelligence.”
- I am a foreigner so maybe I am hard of reading, but I don’t get this sentence. How can one use targeted markets? I assume what the writer meant was decisions on targeted markets will be made using CI. Maybe. Or analysis of CI, because apparently CI itself is not analysis. Just data on competitors? I am starting to get an uneasy feeling.
“As part of Portfolio Product Marketing, this team plays a critical role in shaping…go-to-market motions and product planning. To succeed in this role, you’ll need a willingness to take initiative and get things done, coupled with the ability to influence and collaborate cross functionally.”
- Fantastic, sounds right up my alley of what CI should do (among other roles not confined to product marketing).
“Collect, validate, analyze, and interpret a broad range of market-related competitive data, including industry, financial, volume, market, and competitive insights needed to develop strategic business plans.”
- Even better. Now we are talking top execs users, right?
“Develop holistic perspectives by combining raw data, primary research (qualitative and quantitative), and secondary research, and distilling them into actionable insights to guide business decision making.”
- I am sold. Where do I sign?
BUT— wait a minute. Here comes the reality.
“Support enablement and training activities for sales, presales, professional services, and partners.
Provide tailored deal support and develop a deep rapport with the field.
Make recommendations on sales tactics and product planning to enable… to win in the market.
Meet with customers and sales teams directly, conducting win/loss interviews and analyses.”
Hmmm… sounds sooooo familiar. I’ve worked with dozens of CI managers who were thinking they were going to affect business plans and decision making and ended up—almost always- providing tactical competitor news to sales. They are frustrated. No one reads their “interpretation.” No strategies are changed based on their holistic perspective. They send “battlecards” no one every uses. That’s the reality in so many software companies.
“Ability to disseminate market data and compile addressable market models from combination of internal and external data sources.”
Ability to disseminate? Is there a degree in dissemination?? Don’t mailroom employees disseminate without much training? And addressable market models have proven the death of so many dreams. They are illusions promoted by consultants. Addressable market model (total potential revenue if 100% uses the new product) are like projections of P&L without competitors; Should be called Market Illusions.
“Ability to build compelling storylines and recommendations that are deeply evidenced in quantitative and qualitative research to move leadership to action. Exceptional organizational and time management skills, with ability to effectively manage multiple project timelines, internal partners, external partners, and deadlines.”
Translation: Hire vendors to do the “research”, manage subscriptions to “platforms”, create slides with Excel, do not dare propose speculative (alternative) perspective, sticks to facts (deeply evident- the death of real CI.)
Resume: 5+ years of experience in market research, insights, consulting, or similar role.
Hmmm… this CI job has little to do with real CI. If you come from market research, that’s what you’d be doing. You are walking into a trap of data-zombie role. If you are a CIP and do not need a job desperately- stay away!!
Now to reality: Lsport brilliant, brilliant recruitment video (alas in Hebrew but I translate)
Lsport is an Israeli software company offering real time data for sports betting (I think. I am still not sure what they do but as you’ll see shortly, it doesn’t matter). It was looking to recruit workers in a tough environment. Instead of the typical ad like the mirage posted above from a very large and very famous company, this startup chose a different route.
In the video, a Muppet called Barkuni is invited by the HR manager (a pretty actress) to take a tour of the company (the real offices are shown). The Muppet takes over quickly and gives the tour to the hapless manager by describing the real work done by the typical departments in a high-tech company. Below is a translation of its commentary, the most hilarious and awfully close to the truth narrative.
R&D: They get their highest salaries and in return are asked to give up their lives, and every year they look for new jobs that will give them more money, better benefits and less work. They call this progress.
Sales and marketing: Basically, selling non-existent features and when the deal is closed the developers need to deliver these within two weeks
DevOp: The holy grail. Take your shoes off. If you want to talk to them, take a number. They answer calls between 2:45 and quarter to three.
Customers success: That’s where the new recruits, the juniors, start, work their ass off for 2-3 years before they are moved to more normal positions.
The CEO: A person who is paid a lot of money to raise a toast during company’s parties.
The secretary: Admin assistant- no, secretary.
HR: Sure, managers of human resources, as if these useless juniors are a real resource like natural gas. A bunch of preemies spending half a day deciding what to eat for lunch and then regretting their choice for the other half.
IT: Connecting cables to some appliances?
HR again: Two women with advanced degrees (Summa Cum Laude) in psychology that now do event planning.
Designers: Completed 4 years of design school, dreaming of developing games for special need kids, now working for two weeks on designing the button for the main menu and checking which color will be the most engaging.
Product: More or less the nemesis of R&D. Asking for everything that is impossible.
Finance: Approving all this waste including the morning cereal in the kitchen and the video playing now.
A finance manager turns around and says: What? We didn’t approve of this video. The video stops abruptly.
That the video didn’t have ANY specific job description. Lsport reported receiving 1,800 resumes after the video went viral.
Alternative perspective: Our CIP™s might not get to do everything they should, but they are not competitor/product/sales information bots.