What should SCIP do?

A while back Ellen asked me to suggest what scip should do.

I’ve thought about this for quite a while, and until I read SCIP’s mission and goals, I really couldn’t articulate what was wrong. Having read them, now I can.

When I read SCIP’s mission and goals, it’s clear to me that there’s not much focus on increasing value for members or their employers. Instead the focus is on increasing recognition for SCIP and CI. The problem is that without value there isn’t anything to recognize. I left SCIP because it stopped adding value to me and my employer and became impossible to justify.

Things like certification, codes of ethics, and having a Body of Knowledge sound good, but they don’t help members or their employers thrive or even survive.

Consider what SCIP stands for: Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals. The emphasis is on the professional, not the profession. Compare that with ASQ, or AMA, or BMA.

When I used to work for a ~100 million company, I was asked to create a CI function. It was in conjunction with pricing, not a dedicated position. A sensible move. Based on the reactions I got from others, and observations, I think it’s pretty odd to have a formal CI effort in a company that small, let alone a dedicated person. But for the sake of argument let’s say that $100 million is the minimum company size to have a dedicated CI professional. $100 million companies and larger account for about .2% of the total number of companies out there – an unneccessary limit on market size, and a huge loss in potential value to bring.

Focus on the value created by the profession, not the recognition of the profession.

Let’s look at a few graphs. First, competitive intelligence’s popularity as a search string in google:

A decline. Not usually the sign of something that is increasing in value.

Let’s compare with business intelligence (red line):

Ouch! A nice reality check. I tend to think of business intelligence folk as IT report writers, but really it’s understanding your business and companies are interested in that.

Then let’s add market research:

Ok, no wonder when you say competitive intelligence most people say ‘Huh?’ Competition is only part of one’s market so we shouldn’t be surprised. Also notice the downward trend, even in market research.

Google trends is not the final word, but I think the data are useful because they help put things in perspective. CI can be useful, but it’s not a solution. It’s part of the solution, and a part that needs to earn its keep.

The most valuable stuff I ever did in CI fed middle managers who used to make profitable decisions almost immediately. It was also some of the cheapest & easiest stuff I did. It wasn’t glamorous, and it didn’t even brush against the c-suite, but it didn’t need to. There needs to be a strong focus on creating value whereever possible. If the value’s there, the recognition will follow.

The value needs to be accessible. Real world stuff that non-PhD, non-ex-CIA people can do and it needs to address the needs of companies that exist in large numbers. This means small companies who will NEVER have someone do CI full time. Pharma, insurance, aerospace and giant consumer products companies have a strong interest in CI, t the CI approaches & budgets of those companies are irrelevant to 99% of the companies out there. They’re not a useful example to anyone but their peers.

So what to do?

How about this mission and these goals:

Mission: SCIP will show companies how to enable better decisions through competitive intelligence by educating their staff, providing guidance in ethics, and enabling them to learn from the community they form through SCIP.

Goal 1: Make CI accessible to more companies

  • Increase the usage of CI by smaller companies through education and outreach.
  • Create membership opportunities aimed at the part-time practitioner.

Goal 2: Increase the value CI brings

  • Education practioners on how to identify and communicate the value intelligence brings to decision making.
  • Educate practioners on how to identifiy and anticipate situations where intelligence can bring value.
  • Educate practioners on how to obtain the intelligence they need to bring value.

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