Jan Herring’s Words of Wisdom for Info Pros

I spent most of this week in New Orleans at SLA’s annual conference. I really enjoyed it, and this blog hails competitive intelligence pioneer, Jan Herring. While his communication was geared to information professionals, competitive intelligence professionals take note!

Jan is so supportive of the competitive intelligence profession and I think is a true cooperative intelligence practitioner in that he is so giving. He was the CI division’s breakfast speaker, as well as a panel member on two consecutive panel discussions, Ask The Competitive Intelligence Experts and Competitive Intelligence Transitions for LIS Professionals. Jan is regarded as the father of modern competitive intelligence as he started Motorola’s first formal program, after a distinguished first career with the CIA.

Behind each successful CI process is a corporate library or at least librarian support, as timely, focused secondary research is a valuable component of CI. Bonnie Hohhof of SCIP fame, was the corporate librarian at Motorola that Jan selected to help form the CI team. Jan still quotes Peggy Carr’s 2003 book, “Super Searchers in Competitive Intelligence” as a good resource on how research and CI are tied together.

Jan reviewed the basics of competitive intelligence including the traditional intelligence cycle and the knowledge pyramid to build insightful, actionable intelligence. Intelligence is the right information, delivered and prepared for the people in the company who have the authority to make decisions. In this vein, Jan shared former Motorola CEO Bob Galvin’s parable. Bob had made a bad decision around a market entry. There was one employee who didn’t share some key information, and Bob wondered whose fault it was that the employee hadn’t shared this information. His or the employee’s? Jan asserted that it was the employee’s and honed in on connecting with the right employees around key decisions.

Another gem was, “Get your information and insight into the Heads of decision-makers, not just their Hands.”  A great quote he shared from Robert Steele, “Information costs money. Intelligence makes money.” Jan recommends is that the insight created by intelligence findings and conclusions be measured or valued through ROI. Jan wrote an article on this topic in the Mar/Apr 2007 Competitive Intelligence Magazine published by SCIP.

Jan suggests that you learn to think like your leadership and communicate with them in their words being careful not to insert competitive intelligence verbiage. Know how they are motivated since what makes the management team successful isn’t what makes Info Pros or CI professionals successful. Tim Kindler of Kodak ties his CI deliverables to corporate management’s calendar of needs and events. Respected CI professionals are humble as they set aside their egos and false assumptions, but not too humble so as not to persuasively communicate findings to management.

There are three areas where information pros and CI professionals can improve:

  1. Financial based reporting – work with the finance department to develop and monitor financial benchmarks against your major competitors
  2. Early warning – build innovative secondary source monitoring as a base for your primary researchers to verify findings through people to develop early warning alerts
  3. CI software – develop software applications to support the monitoring, collection, storage and dissemination of information. More refined software is developed all the time such as Link Analysis and Evidence Based Research. A supplier to consider which assesses almost all CI software providers is Eastport Analytics. You can find some individual CI software providers at SCIP’s website.

A final key finding that Jan and Paul Houston uncovered during their research of 20 companies: it’s most important for firms to have a savvy CI manager/director who produces what management wants/needs. You need to do CI on your own leadership to keep a pulse on their ever changing needs.

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Competitive Intelligence Talks at SLA’s 2010 Conference

I will be attending SLA’s (Special Library’s Association) Annual Conference from June 12 – 16 at the New Orleans Convention Center. In the spirit of cooperative intelligence, here is a synopsis of the 7 competitive intelligence presentations.

Delving Beyond the Published Record: Market Research & Knowledge Management: Mon., 6/14/2010 2:00 – 3:30PM Convention Center, Rm R07

Info pros are extremely adept at secondary research. This session led by Victor Camlek, VP Marketing Intelligence at Thomson Reuters will show how market research uncovers new knowledge, while expert knowledge management systems across the enterprise lead to stronger return on investment for valuable market research studies as well as other organizational initiatives.

Intelligence Early Warning Systems: Beyond Monitoring: Mon, 6/14, 4:00 – 5:30PM Convention Center, Room R07

Ellen Naylor, President of The Business Intelligence Source, discusses what Early Warning practice means to both intelligence and information services, how to develop it, and how early warning systems may be used to provide timely advanced insights on developing trends and events, competitive circumstances, and issues important to decision-makers.

Competitive Intelligence Division Breakfast Meeting: Tue., 6/15, 7:30 – 9:30AM Convention Center, Room R05

Jan Herring, President of Herring & Associates, will offer both tactical and philosophical advice quantifying the value of competitive intelligence operations as well as other topics of interest.

InfoCitizen: Creating and Finding Value in Online Communities: Tue 6/15, 10:00 – 11:30AM Convention Center, Room 221

Whether participating in or building an online social network, competitive intelligence info pros can derive tremendous value from communities, using them to find experts, make connections, and glean information. Scott Brown, will share real-life examples of best practices in participating in online communities and provide tips to help you get the most out of your network.

SPOTLIGHT SESSION: Ask the Competitive Intelligence Experts Panel: Wed 6/16, 8:00 – 9:30AM, Convention Center, La Louisiane Ballroom

Info pros are increasingly switching to competitive intelligence, since there’s always a demand for market intelligence. Bring your pressing competitive intelligence questions, concerns and stories to this informal panel facilitated by Ellen Naylor, President of The Business Intelligence Source.  Panelists include Claudia Clayton, Founder & Managing Director of ViewPoint; Jan Herring, President of Herring & Associates; and Arik Johnson, Founder & Chairman of Aurora WDC.

SPOTLIGHT SESSION: Competitive Intelligence Transitions for LIS Professionals: Wed 6/16, 10:00 – 11:30AM, Convention Center, La Louisiane Ballroom

This panel discussion, facilitated by Toni Wilson, President of MarketSmart Research, will focus on how to leverage your skills as an LIS professional into a competitive intelligence career. Learn how to accomplish this in your current job or in a new opportunity, either as an in-house info pro or as an outside consultant. Panelists include Jan Herring, President of Herring & Associates, Anna Shallenberg, SLA’s Conference Leader and Victor Camlek, VP Marketing Intelligence at Thomson Reuters .

As an aside I will be helping at AIIP’s (Association of Independent Information Professionals) booth, #1539 in the Exhibits area from 10-Noon on Monday, June 14 and 15:00 – 17:00 on Tuesday, June 15. Please stop by and say HI.

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