How to Define Your Competitive Intelligence Needs

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How to how to define your Competitive Intelligence needs

This article explains how to how to define your Competitive Intelligence needs. The first step in any Competitive Intelligence activity is to understand what you want to find and get out of the project. Decision-makers with your business will have an idea of the sort of subjects and needs they want to to build Intelligence on. So these are known in CI circles are KITS – Key Intelligence Topics.

Key Intelligence Topics

The term Key Intelligence Topic originates from military intelligence. And with this in mind here is an example. The US sees Iran as a threat to “Middle East” stability. The US President will want to know their intentions, the weapons they have in their arsenal, how the Iranian population feel about the leadership, as well as their natural resources etc.

These are KITs. So, taking the weapons topics apart, the next step will be to understand specific things about weapons. This stage is where the questions come into play. For instance:

  • How many fighter aircraft do Iran have?
  • What weapon systems do they have on the fighter aircraft?
  • What the range of the fighter aircraft?
  • How well trained and motivated are the pilots?

Going back to the corporate world, KITS break down into the into three interchangeable and potential cross-pollinated subjects:

  • Strategic decisions and actions – Factors you can influence on.
  • Key players – The issues out of our total control, but you can affect. The usual reprobates such as:
    • Competitors
    • Suppliers
    • Customers
    • Regulators
    • Government
    • Partners 
  • Early Warning Topics – Situations beyond your control.

Measure value and success

Strategic decisions and actions are the set of KITs which you can measure value and define success. You have a reasonable control of the topics.  Topics associated with your company’s forward-looking strategic plans, making investment and acquisition decisions, operational changes and product development.

Key player KITS develop knowledge of one of your Competitors, their people and key influencers. Battle cards and competitor profile sheets are the tools usually associated with key players. Get to know your competitors, learn how they think, their strengths and weaknesses etc. 

Early warning KITs remove the element of surprise. As you know, surprises in business are rarely pleasant. So, threats, new tech, changes to a customer’s trading situation or loyalty, government legislations. The entrance of new competitors or a merger results in a new mega rival. 


KITs tend to be reactive but to make the best of CI it’s KITs should be proactive, and CI departments should conduct regular conversations with decision-makers about what most concerns them. Understand and define what topics do they want to have more knowledge on.

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