Follow three steps to grow CI as a core function.

Clara Brunkhorst, Research Analyst at iCIMS, and Ed Allison of Compelligence, delivered a presentation Tuesday at AuroraWDC’s RECONVERGE symposium as another example of reinvention in the competitive intelligence industry.

Allison asked participants to consider something challenging their company—what is their fear? What do they want to achieve to get energy flowing?

Brunkhorst shared her story. Three months ago she had been called to brief the CEO and executives on short notice—with only two days to prepare. She had been practicing for about a year, and she was not originally slated to deliver the presentation.

She had previously given a presentation to another area of the company, and she was urged to share it with upper management.

Typically, a needs analysis takes a much greater amount of time than 48 hours.

Is it time, then, for a reinvention in CI in which the typical process occurs?

Allison notes the bulk of body of CI knowledge has been developed in the 80s and 90s, and asked Brunkhorst about what it is like to be “new.”

She has been very busy, but information has been manageable. But in terms of providing recommendations, a typical SWOT analysis fell short in delivering insights to her company.

Rather than simply learning a tactic, CI pros can develop a new question. What is your level of impact and degree of visibility? Is your program partner or service oriented? Who are your most valuable primary customers internally and externally? How are products teams supported with CI and market resources? How do you attribute influence and strategy impact and, how is revenue support and sales enabled?

Consider the maturity level of your CI program to determine where you might advance.

Are you facing an organizational barrier as you attempt to achieve new value?

There are three stages in evolving the CI function:

Stage One–Foundational elements, centralizing the discipline.

Stage Two—Field engagement, repeatable deliverables.

Stage Three—Executive influencer, external leader.

Brunkhorst examined each stage of the CI process in depth.

Stage One

* She focused on headcount, budget, sources of intelligence, distribution and intelligence sharing strategy. Metrics are helpful to determine success in stage one; she measured strategy, market awareness (number of events were analyzed and shared), and CI had a cultural pulse to serve the entire organization and counted the number of pieces of intelligence submitted.

Stage Two

* Intelligence validation, fact-based collections, user feedback vs. GTM product positioning. Advancing to stage two happened as quantity and quality of work became “normal”—from foundational to field engagement. Expectation setting with sales, pricing quote collection, why buys for attribution, salesforce integration, trusted battle cards. Repeated deliverables included monthly newsletters, conducting sell against sessions, and attending sales and presenting briefings. Salesforce integration was critical.

Stage Three

* Stage three was a natural progression—it can’t be forced. Can CI be seen as unbiased? Can you have debriefs with other teams? Executive influencers will have a unique set of data, will have invitation vs. promoted entry, will be internally unbiased, and will provide product team technical briefings. External leaders will do partner analyst briefings, become an external thought leader, and provide custom analyses published in one page briefs and blog posts. Metrics in stage three include: win/loss analysis—monthly reports to stakeholders, and number of completed phone surveys. Product support: number of features influenced on the roadmap, number of technical briefings and research requests. Finally, in executive industry engagement, they measured number of briefings with the C-Suite, partner groups, and partner requests and briefings.

Within a year, Brunkhorst has made these accomplishments:

  • Average monthly newsletter NPS of 74
  • Fulfilled 207 research requests
  • Attribute direct support of $3.5M of annual revenue
  • 35 battle cards across 4 product landscapes
  • Average monthly collection of 60+ pieces of intelligence
  • Briefed internal teams 52 times
  • Launched competitive intel and management software
  • Quarterly technical briefings with product teams
  • March, 2017: briefed 380 session attendees cross-departmentally

Today Brunkhorst sees her group as a partner team—they support every business unit’s future. Research needs to be agile, specific, repeated, and live. Are you a trusted advisor brought in early and often? Is intelligence sharing mutual? In service, monitor the number of research requests fulfilled, heavily built out PowerPoints, and long term research projects.

How can you become a core function at your organization? Might you be downsized, or partnered?

Pitfalls and red flags:

  • Fact vs opinion
  • Speed and scalability
  • Team size and management
  • Prove it! (metrics)
  • Automation and tools—organization level CI must be system-aided.

Session participants then learned to determine at what level they are competitively as they completed a practical exercise led by Allison.