World-class Competitive Intelligence (CI) Function is a multistage research project. Competitive Intelligence represents a "formalized, yet continuously evolving process by which the management team assesses the evolution of its industry and the capabilities and behaviour of its current and potential competitors to assist in maintaining or developing a competitive advantage" (Prescott and Gibbons, 1993)

The CI function can be divided into two main activities: (a) the operation, which includes working on intelligence products and project involving the gathering, analyzing and dissemination of intelligence based on intelligence requests from managers and (b) the administration, which focuses on the activities, actions and resources needed to manage the operational activity. These two activities interact; both are necessary for an effective world-class CI function.

Most of the literature has focused on various aspects of CI operations such as collection techniques and analytical methods. Designing the administration structure of a CI function has been primarily examined in an ad hoc manner. Our project, based on systematic research, reveals how to design a CI administration to achieve a world-class standard

The project addresses a significant gap in the CI literature thus providing a unique practical contribution for managers. A bibliographic review shows that there are no books based on systematic research that provide a taxonomical model for planning, developing and evolving a CI function. The extant literature focuses on prescriptive guidelines oriented towards "how to start a CI function". Thus there has been no limited attention directed towards developing a taxonomical framework of the key factors comprising a world-class CI function. Thus managers do not have a roadmap to follow in designing their CI function. The project's aim is to cover several reserach areas:

- What are the dimensions and aspects of a World-class CI function?
- How have world-class companies developed CI: what are the main phases of development and how are they described in terms of milestones relating to the various aspects?
- What are the logical relationships between the aspect milestones?
- What are the best ways to achieve world-class CI?

The initial Research activity started in Barcelona in September 2003 discussing the possible conceptual frameworks. The starting idea was applying project management as a tool for supporting the establishment, implementation and development of the CI Function.
Between October and May 2004 we reviewed current literature and professional presentations. The objective was to establish a first list of aspects to incorporate into our framework During autumn 2004 we organized 51 aspects into 9 dimensions.

STEP 1 The first part of our research led to the definition of 48 aspects of a world-class CI function. (Building the framework)
STEP 2 This step is concerned with understanding the overall achievement of best practice companies against the model
STEP 3 This step is interested in distinguishing the relative importance of the 48 aspects and the 9 dimensions.
STEP 4 This step is interested in defining the ideal or possible roadmaps with milestone and final objectives.


 

STEP 1 - Building the Framework (done)

The framework is theoretically-based and empirically tested in the field research with more than 20 best-in-class CI companies. The outcome is a benchmarked model for appraising a company's current CI function against world-class standards. Managers can use the model to determine the most efficient use of limited CI resources and develop plans of action for the evolution of their CI function.

 

STEP 2 - Testing the Framework (done)

Several Best Practices have been tested against the theorretical framework.

 

STEP 3 - Defining relative importance (in progress)

  STEP 4 - Defining the Roadmaps
(in progress)