Dr. Craig Fleisher introduced Nhi Tran and Joshua Bailey as this year’s Jim Mathews award winners; these students provide a compelling glimpse at the future of CI.

Background of the award: Jim Mathews was very serious about reaching out to CI students to help the field advance. Aurora WDC has sponsored this award for five years; it is open to any CI student anywhere in the world. Participants must provide an entry with description of their background and complete an essay.

Judges rank the submissions and the top two winners are selected. This year, Jim Mathews award winners are from Mercyhurst University and James Madison University.


Joshua Bailey, James Madison University

Joshua delivered a presentation on the role of competitive intelligence in very small businesses.

Competitive Intelligence and (really) Small Businesses
The corporate environment has large, established operations and the need for CI is perceived as more relevant. Small businesses have razor-thin margins and lack formal training in business areas.

Consulting for small business

  • Brings expert knowledge
  • Provides peace of mind


  • Expensive
  • Requires immense trust
  • Not a short-term solution

Where does CI fit in a small business?

  • Requires reorientation of thought processes: descriptive, not prescriptive
  • Informing on the not-so-obvious
  • Internal analysis
  • SWOT, war games, red team: Using a different view will provide most immediate short-term results

Advantage of small business CI

  • Smaller form factors—no bureaucracy
  • Personal investment
  • Risk of failure spurs innovation

Obstacles include

  • Product perspective over customer focus
  • Early failure
  • Distrust of non-standard advice and consulting

Going forward
The place for CI in small business is about how you structure your CI thought process. Cost reduction is important and they will want to see immediate results. Outreach can be effective through SBA, university outreach, seminars, and professional organizations.


Nhi Tran, Mercyhurst University

Nhi’s presentation examined the role of social media in intelligence practice.

Social Media in Competitive Intelligence Practice

Three aspects that social media can provide about the competition include customer information, market strategy, management strategy.

Does social media only include sites we can name? It also includes things like conversation, sharing, and publishing.

From the many social media sources, what should CI analysts choose? Analysts should not limit themselves to popular sites only, but utilize multiple types to approach competitors, and choose social media based on the characteristics of their industries as well as their competitors.

Social media will generate additional measures to include in analysis, things like consumer preferences and demographic data.

Management strategy will be influenced as social media provides research on the competition’s management strategy and their internal networks.

Social media analysis, says Nhi, is inexpensive, provides customer information, illuminates market strategy, and guides management strategy. It is a valuable resource in the CI practitioner’s toolkit.

Congratulations to Nhi and Joshua!