Are Associations Going the Way of Print Media?: Part II

Association chapters, the grass roots of associations, are often the step-children in the association world since they don’t produce revenue, and many don’t even break even. I think that is particularly true using the traditional model, especially if the association centrally controls chapters versus letting them run themselves.

In today’s world the high cost of in-person chapter meetings has resulted in much lower attendance. Chapter leadership often runs in-person meetings using the same format in the same location year after year. We are certainly guilty of that in our Denver SCIP (Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals) chapter, which I really hadn’t thought about until I did the research to analyze the location of our members. About half of us work in Boulder and the Northern Denver suburbs, so are not keen on trekking into Denver where we hold our meetings. We have never hosted a Boulder meeting, and then again none of our Boulder members has volunteered to host. They probably didn’t realize that half of us are there!

Recently a few of us put our heads together to start adapting our chapter meeting venue to the reality of today’s dispersed and busy workforce. We are co-hosting a meeting with the Denver APMP (Association of Proposal Management Professionals) chapter on Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. where people will have 3 choices for connection:

1. In person business meeting: 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Ballard Spahr, LLP
1225 17th Street, Suite 2300 Denver, CO  80202
Directions:  http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl
Cost:  $10 (pay on-site or register through SCIP)

2. Webinar Business Meeting: 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Dimdim Webinar: RSVP apmp.colorado@gmail.com, and include name, SCIP/APMP member or guest and David Shipley will email you instructions from Dimdim.
Cost: None

3. Social Meeting: 4:40 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. (or later…)
Location: Prime Bar
1515 Arapahoe Street Denver, CO  80202
(One block away from Ballard Spahr) RSVP: renaylor at wispertel.net
Cost: You pay for your drinks & snacks

The presentation “From CI to the Opportunity: Practical Steps to Winning!”
addresses the competitive intelligence (CI) process and how to use CI to get to the “First Place”—that is winning more business!

Folks are invited to attend any of these venues. If you don’t have time for the meeting, you can meet us at Prime Bar. We are hoping to engage our members by giving them more choices for connection, and the additional cross-pollination between SCIP and APMP members. Just in case you’re interested, here is the detail for things like registration, speakers, etc.

So what are you doing to engage participation and cooperation among your membership at the local association level? We’re considering a LinkedIn Group, a Ning group, or starting a Denver chapter within the already existing CI Ning group. We will Tweet on Twitter about our local meetings under #denverci. Our virtual space will provide 24/7 communication and we will help our members find work through job postings there too.

In the spirit of cooperative intelligence, I am forming a Denver group around intelligence collaboration to include people who are not full-time CI practitioners. For example your job might be in product management, sales, marketing, forecasting, strategic planning or mining information, but intelligence collection and analysis is part of your job. If you’re interested, please contact me at renaylor at wispertel.net and I’ll include you in our future events.

BTW, this is similar to the intelligence collaboration instigated by futurist Eric Garland  on our CI Ning which I invite you to join.

Will Associations Go the Way of Print Media?

SCIP just announced that its formal merger was consummated with Frost & Sullivan’s Institute. This merger is a sign of the times: it’s hard for associations to survive in this tough economic climate. But I think it’s more than that: the association model is changing not just due to competition from other associations, but for people’s time and easy access to connections formerly made through associations via social media.

Historically associations mailed trade journals and relevant news to the membership; and conducted in-person events such as conferences, educational programs and city chapter meetings. Member volunteer time was crucial to keeping costs down and content up, and still is. The association staff needed to be sensitive to the association’s industry, but association management was the key skill required.

Today the transaction cost of in-person meetings has escalated as people are stretched to do more with less, and can’t get away from work as easily. They can also find relevant information and connections especially through social networks liked LinkedIn, Twitter and industry formed Nings. These changes are sorely felt by associations in reduced attendance at annual conferences and chapter meetings. Annual conference revenues are the bread and butter of most associations. Like other associations, most SCIP chapters record poor attendance. The more progressive include complementary associations such as Robert Bugai, SCIP’s NJ Chapter Chair who hosts semi-annual networking meetings with 10 other organizations. The Denver chapter of the Association of Corporate Growth attracts strong attendance. It has local association support, an excellent PR machine and strong word of mouth fuelling intense interest. It is known to offer some of the best networking connections in the Denver metro.

SCIP has responded by offering fee-based Webinars and an on-line news bulletin, which contains a “New & Notable” section by Bonnie Hohhof, worth the price of membership for those who take the time to read it!  However, all major educational programs are in-person.

I belong to AIIP (Association of Independent Information Professionals) which hosts a listserv (AIIP-L Discussion List), alone worth the price of membership. Individual members ask questions of each other, share information and words of encouragement—an excellent, ongoing form of connection. AIIP’s member directory is public and searchable. The publicity is fuelled by strong word of mouth and through such journals as FUMSI, a portion of which is edited by Marcy Phelps, current President of AIIP. AIIP actively exhibits at complementary association’s conferences such as SLA and SCIP. The booth is staffed by volunteers and paid for through reciprocal exhibition at AIIP’s annual conference. Webinars, free to members, are given by members. AIIP volunteers often ask other members how the association can serve them better. I predict this model will survive these tough times since it is evolving according to the needs of its members through good two-way communication.

Associations need to adapt their model to their membership in these changing times since the old value proposition won’t work. Here are a few ideas to consider:

1. Multiple, affordable means to connect members electronically
2. Free services that are interactive, like Webinars
3. Continuous PR blasts about the profession’s benefits to both users and providers of that association’s constituency
4. Strong industry knowledge by association staff (like Bonnie Hohhof at SCIP)
5. Steady corporate and service provider sponsorship (financial and time)
6. Cooperative affiliation with complementary associations or industry associations which value your association’s skill

As a long-time SCIP member, I hope that the Frost & Sullivan Institute’s marketing machine and reach extends SCIP and the competitive intelligence discipline to be more recognized and valued by those who use competitive intelligence in its many forms.

How Corporate Recruiting Adds to a Competitive Intelligence Effort

Please welcome this article by Dorothy Beach, MBA CIR PHR. We are colleagues through our interest in competitive intelligence. We met at a Dallas/Ft. Worth SCIP Chapter meeting, and I really value her insight into the recruiting world!

DorothyBeachCompetitive intelligence (CI) is the process of gathering valuable information about your firm’s direct and indirect competitors including strategies, plans, practices or people. Companies value CI and its opposite, counterintelligence or protection of assets, in varying degrees. Those that value CI and counterintelligence are more cooperative about its collection and protection across all functions of the company.

As a new R&D employee in the Healthcare Division at Procter & Gamble I realized that counterintelligence was essential but when I transferred to product development in the Food & Beverage Division, everyone was responsible for gathering CI, especially when we conducted consumer research in the field. Marketing-based companies are especially sensitive to competitive forces and highly value both CI and counterintelligence.

As a Recruiting Researcher and Sourcer, I observed there were usually more formal processes around counterintelligence than CI. Examples of HR counterintelligence are protecting the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) from hacks, using stringent password protection and masking Social Security numbers. CI rarely was an organized effort either before or after a new employee was hired. While exchanging information with recruiters when sourcing candidates for them, I realized that we gathered a lot of CI while speaking to prospective candidates that was not well captured or shared. Much of what we heard was recorded in Excel spreadsheets or in notes of an ATS or not at all. It is no wonder that CI was not appreciated enough to develop a formal CI process and reward system for its information.

Once there is a high level management buy-in to develop a CI gathering process, start with a roadmap to include:

1.) Objectives or goals

2.) A scan of existing and needed resources

3.) An estimated budget for resources and training

4.) A way to record and communicate findings with a risk assessment

5.) Analytics to track progress

6.) A timeline for the roadmap which reassesses its effectiveness

Ideally this recruiting initiative should work cooperatively with the competitive intelligence employees in an information exchange. The process should be open to its evolution in the first launch and have a point of responsibility given to at least two people: a Recruiting Manager and their direct report. Some aspects of each step in the roadmap:

Step 1: A new program might need objectives or goals with some constraints. You can gather “real time” information across all company sources or just focus on the company’s closest competitors. The latter focus works if your company recruits heavily from competitors so there is representation of new hires from all functions

Sample objectives include answers to:

What influences the candidate choice of employer in this industry?

When we are turned down, where do the candidates go?

What recruiters at the competitor companies are stealing our talent?

What is the competition’s biggest impact on successful recruitment? Examples: website, field work, recruiting process, social media channels, job boards or other?

Is our salary and benefit package help or hinder recruitment?

Is the brand perception locally different from what is perceived elsewhere?

Step 2: Resource identification includes the development of formal new employee interviewing questions and additional informal candidate interviewing questions, resources to validate what is said such as financial databases, analyst reports (Gartner, IDC, Forrester) and social media monitoring and a process to acquire and record third party recruiter intelligence gathering.

Step 3: Calculate the budget to cover the expenses of an employee(s) covering this role and identify its responsibilities. Expenses can take the form of added recruiter bonuses for the intelligence that has impact, resources to validate findings, costs for communication platforms and training costs to launch the initiative to a team. Soft costs are the hours dedicated to implementing, executing and evaluating this job.

Step 4: Communication can be a platform such as a wiki for “real time” feeds or an eRoom for posts. More recent tools like Yammer.com, a Twitter-like blog communication internal to the company, can alert a researcher to validate a piece of intelligence and reissue to the staffing organization. Determinations of how long this information should be kept, where and in what form is part of assessing risk. Share it in a way that it cannot be changed (pdf) or downloaded (no PC peripheral policy) and share it broadly and as close to “real time” as possible. Access to this CI information between recruiting and competitive intelligence employees in other parts of the company would be ideal.

Step 5: Determine the analytics you need to track how the intelligence is used and what influence it has on decision-making. Examples of analytics are success in further recruitment, timing from first engagement of the candidate to their hire date, information that can or cannot be validated, and determination of what recruiting channels are most used. If intelligence can be validated it becomes more useful in strategic planning.

Step 6: Each quarter or half year, review what objectives were accomplished and broadly share. Make suggestions for improvement of CI and counterintelligence with an outcome of go/ no-go decision of resources for the initiative’s continuation and evolution.

Agencies using this roadmap can add value to their services to corporate clients with the added benefit of an arm’s length in its information gathering.

Dorothy Beach has been in research for her entire career, possesses an MBA in Marketing and is also certified in both Internet Recruiting (CIR) and Human Resources (PHR). Her blog, FrontEndRecruiting was created to showcase the latest trends, tools and techniques used by recruiters for the research phase of the recruiting cycle. More recently Dorothy has become a social media strategist for the Texas Recruiters Network. She can be found on LinkedIn and accepts all invitations to her extensive network using beach2000@gmail.com.

Competitive Intelligence at SLA 2009 & Other Favorites

SLA2009SeeYouJust before SCIP09, we shared a list of 10 things we wanted to do while at the conference, so in the spirit of cooperative intelligence, I’ll share the talks in the Competitive Intelligence Track and some of my favorites at SLA2009, which takes place in the Washington, DC Convention Center June 14 – 17.

Pre-conference workshops will be conducted on June 12 – 14. I am giving two all-day workshops which are part of SLA’s Click University program towards the Competitive Intelligence Certificates Program. CI Analysis: Intermediate Frameworks is on June 12, and Management Analysis for Competitive Intelligence is held on June 13. These classes cover CI analytical tools and techniques and include case study learning.

Here are Competitive Intelligence Track sessions and some others I recommend!

Saturday: June 13

Mary Ellen Bates will lead a seminar “Publish or Perish: Producing Fabulous e-Newsletters,” 1 – 5 p.m., June 13.

Sunday: June 14

Mary Ellen Bates leads a full-day workshop on “Build Your CI Skills Parts 1 & 2.” Attendees can elect to attend the full day or either half day, and this is part of the Competitive Intelligence Track. My colleague, Jennifer Swanson will lead the Click University CI Certificate Program (CIC07): “Human Source Collection–Research Beyond Published Sources,” an all day session. Jill Hurst-Wahl will co-instruct “Ten Things in One Day: Applying Social Tools to Your Library,” an all day workshop. Colin Powell, 65th Secretary of State, will give the SLA’s keynote address from 5:15 – 7:15 pm.

Monday: 15 June

Mary Ellen Bates will present “Painless (No, really!) Negotiating” from 9 – 10:30 am. “Expert Databases: Leveraging for Success” is led by panelists, Catherine Monte, Monica Ertel, and Medha Devare, from 9 – 10:30 am, part of the Competitive Intelligence Track. Claudia Clayton and Toni Wilson will present “Skills for the Effective CI Practitioner” from 1:30 – 3 pm, part of the Competitive Intelligence Track. August Jackson will present “Cast a Wide Research Net, Save Time with Really Simple Syndication (RSS)” from 1:30 – 3:30 pm. Jill Hurst-Wahl will be a panelist at “SLA Hot Topic: Wikis, Tweets, and Blogs, Oh My!” from 1:30 – 3 pm. Marcy Phelps will lead “Power Networking for Info Pros” from 1:30 – 3 pm

Tuesday: 16 June

Arik Johnson will be the featured speaker at the Competitive Intelligence Division’s Breakfast meeting from 7 – 8:30 am. Roberta Shaffer will present “Competitive Intelligence and the Government Librarian” from 9:30 – 11 am, part of the Competitive Intelligence Track. Mary Ellen Bates will present “Lies, Damned Lies, and Annual Reports: Reading and Interpreting Company Financials” from 11:30 am – 1 pm, part of the Competitive Intelligence Track. Ulla de Stricker will present “The Consultant’s Toolkit: Discovery in the Round” from 11:30 am – 1 pm. Jennifer Swanson and I (Ellen Naylor) will answer questions at “CI Clinic: The Prescription for Your CI Needs” from 1:30 – 3 p.m.

Wed: 17 June

Mary Ellen Bates will present “Creating Groupies: How to Add Value, Make Yourself Irreplaceable & Beat the Pants Off Google” from 8:30 – 10 am. Marcy Phelps will present “I’m Not Cheap, Just Cost-Conscious: Market Research to Fit Your Budget” from 8:30 – 10 am. “Incorporating CI into Your Services: Real Life Examples from Legal Info Pros” is led by panelists Tim McAllister, Greg Lambert, and J.O. Wallace from 8:30 – 10 am, part of the Competitive Intelligence Track.

I know there are some wonderful talks I haven’t included here in my list, but check out SLA’s conference agenda for all the details!

Just How Social is Social Networking?

I am writing an article on Cooperative Intelligence geared to Information Professionals, and it got me to thinking about how social, social networking is. I will focus mostly on LinkedIn and Twitter for now.

In most cases on LinkedIn, it’s a loose connection, and you’ll never hear from that person again unless they want to sell you something, fill jobs or find a job. I notice many people who ask me to connect on LinkedIn end their invitation with, “Let me know how I can help you,” but they don’t tell me what they do, and they haven’t looked at what I do. So it feels kind of phony to me.  However, since I am a LION on LinkedIn, I guess I attract this kind of behavior. I also get a lot of spam from my 1st connections on Linked In, and some don’t provide an option for me to “unsubscribe”.

I just read that 90% of Twitter traffic comes from 10% of the users: this tells me that most of the communication is automated, so how personal can it be? Yet I do connect with many of my pals and meet new people who share my interests on Twitter and we do engage through tweets, albeit with the 140 character limitation. I have found some great people through # searching under relevant categories for what I do such as competitive intelligence, product development and market research. I stay in touch with some of my pals in competitive intelligence, information professionals, and product managers who prefer to communicate via tweets. We shared learnings at SCIP’s 2009 conference in Chicago, and Tweet-ups are increasingly popular.

I like to weave cooperative intelligence into my social networking practices. Cooperative intelligence assumes that you are a giving person without strings attached and that you don’t just give to get. This is often not true on social networks. Many of those who want me to follow them on Twitter, who have huge followings, are selling something that sounds like it’s too good to be true or sell something so awful or irrelevant to what I care about that I am not interested!

The pendulum is swinging back to more traditional marketing for me since I still get more business from word of mouth marketing and referrals from existing customers and friends. Where I do find social networks worthwhile is to find people who might be interested in my services who know someone I know. LinkedIn and Twitter are great places to find people who will talk to you when you need information, which is how I make my living, but I don’t have to “live” on these networks for this to work.

The most relevant social network for competitive intelligence professionals is the CI Ning. I check that out most week days and enjoy the stimulating conversations, the connections and learning.  I believe more people practice cooperative intelligence since the sharing is continuous, and people are not flagrantly in the marketing mode. I imagine this is true for social networks where people share a common discipline, rather than the more generic social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

What are you noticing as social networking is becoming more commonplace? Have you changed your marketing habits lately?

What’s the Future of SCIP and the Competitive Intelligence Profession?

I’m just back from a holiday in Barcelona, Cadaqués and Southern France, mostly the hill town of Itzac where family lives. As often happens I had time to reflect on recent happenings in my life.

I feel like one of my rocks, SCIP has shifted in my absence due to the merger with Frost & Sullivan’s Institute.  I have been an active member since 1990, participating in most annual conferences, served on its board, helped found the Minnesota chapter. I am a columnist for CI Magazine and have given presentations at most SCIP conferences since the mid-1990s. So you get the drift: I am committed to the CI profession and to SCIP.

How did we get there? I think the reasons are deeper than our weak economy, although it is a contributor.  Competitive intelligence is not recognized enough to keep SCIP afloat on its own.  Corporate members increasingly conduct competitive intelligence as a part of their job, but many are not full time practitioners.  This is also true for many consultants and academics who teach competitive intelligence, often as part of an MBA or other Master’s program.

Many companies include competitive intelligence as part of other business functions which are well defined: product planning, strategic planning, marketing, PR, sales, R&D, but CI really isn’t perceived as a discipline in many companies.

When SCIP was formed in 1986, it was the only game in town, but now there are competitive intelligence divisions and / or CI programs within other organizations such as SLA (Special Libraries Association), AIIP (Association of Independent Information Professionals), American Marketing Association, and Marketing Research Association to name a few.  SCIP has perceived these groups as competitors and has felt more threatened by them rather than acting cooperatively and partnering and learning from them. SLA has implemented a competitive intelligence certificate program within its CI Division, which has been very successful, while SCIP is still working on a certification program. SCIP also competes with social networks where participants act and react quickly to events like the CI Ning, LinkedIn groups and Twitter for written communication on competitive intelligence.

For SCIP to survive, even with Frost’s infusion of cash, it’s imperative that SCIP turn on its marketing machine with urgency and reach out to companies and individuals and educate them on the compelling value of conducting systematic CI.  Many don’t get this and just do CI on an ad hoc basis, when they feel pain.  I know this since I’ve been consulting for a while and mostly get called in when companies are having trouble.

CI needs more recognition in the academic world. I am not a professor, but I know that what people learn in school, they often use at work.  If CI is strongly marketed to schools as part of the curriculum in undergraduate and graduate business programs, this will help the profession and SCIP both. A scholarly journal would be another step in credibility for the academic community.

I came home and spent hours pouring over the posts that had been added on the CI Ning particularly two of them:

SCIP F&SI Moving Forward

Interest in Starting an Online-Only CI Academic Journal?

I hope that SCIP’s leadership is reading the CI Ning. There are so many good ideas posted, so SCIP has a great opportunity to listen and query these individuals more closely and engage them to be part of the solution.

Let’s Give SCIP a Second Chance

This has been a tough time for many of us in this rocky economy and SCIP has been no exception. SCIP 09 attracted many fewer people than SCIP had hoped for since many companies have cut back travel and education budgets this year.  Like most associations, SCIP is fueled financially by its annual conferences.  SCIP leadership and its Board of Directors were ready and presented the membership with a voting opportunity to keep SCIP in business.  Frost & Sullivan’s Institute has agreed to give SCIP a cash infusion to keep it in business, and to propel the CI profession into new directions, most particularly up the organization where Frost is well positioned.

Like many I was disturbed by the suddenness with which we were presented with this bad news: that SCIP was facing such financial difficulty that this infusion of cash was expedient, and we better vote YES to keep SCIP in business.  This was bad emotional intelligence on SCIP’s part I think.

There is a tremendous amount of emotional and analytical discussion on this subject on our CI Ning.  Check it out as you will read so many great ideas on how our field is evolving globally as well as organizations that do bits and pieces of CI.

What I get from this discussion is that we all benefit the most by having one place to represent competitive intelligence, so I hope that SCIP remains in business, and takes some of the constructive suggestions that have been raised in the last week through the CI Ning, the Fellow’s phone call, the CI chapter’s phone call…the outpouring of ideas.

I also hope that SCIP learns to work better with other interest groups all over the world in SCIP and brings back some form of an academic journal since schooling is a great way to build the profession!

Read about the proposed merger with Frost & Sullivan’s Institute right on SCIP’s home page .  The latest I heard was about 90% of the votes have been YES to the merger.  There has never been such a high voter turnout in SCIP’s history. SCIP needs 5% of the membership to vote and a 2/3 majority to say YES in order to move forward with negotiations for the merger.  I voted YES and encourage SCIP members to support our Board and SCIP leadership. We all win if SCIP moves forward and continues to support the competitive intelligence profession.

Dialog on Social Networking in Competitive Intelligence: Post-Conference #SCIP09 Chicago

scip-09-chicagoThis continues my report from talks I attended at SCIP’s (Society of Competitive Intelligence Professional’s) annual conference in Chicago last week. Roger Phelps and Suki Fuller facilitated this open dialog.

Almost all attendees use LinkedIn, while not even half use Twitter. Social networks even less used are Xing, Plaxo, Spoke and Namyz. Some still use listservs within organizations like AIIP (Association of Independent Information Professionals), which alone is worth the annual dues IMO. Although it wasn’t listed, over 700 in competitive intelligence use our Ning group. I think people were confusing Xing and Ning. Xing is a Hamburg, Germany based social network group with over 7 million members while Ning is a social network that lets you create your own social network according to specific niches such as competitive intelligence.

One person boycotts all forms of social networking and differentiates himself by only using email, phone calls and meetings. Others use several social networks as a relationship builder towards email, phone calls or in-person meetings. I prefer to use SN as a relationship builder and use more personal communication with individuals I resonate with. Suki builds relationships to get introductions within a specific industry. The point is: be creative with your connections and cooperative to help others connect.

Spoke is mostly used for obtaining contact information, especially email since it’s an impersonal way to get some competitive data.

Linked In is used by CI pros in collection. It’s the fastest way to find niche experts. You can get names off Linked In and warm up your phone call by asking for a person by name, and know something about them beforehand. You can also use Linked In’s Advanced Searching to find former employees at companies you’re researching who are more likely to share information, although be aware it might be dated or they might be jaded if they were laid off.

Another great use of Linked In is to pose questions within specific groups, whether within a discipline like competitive intelligence, an industry like legal or former employees if you or a friend used to work there.

To be found, create a group to draw on, such as Competitive Intelligence Software within Competitive Intelligence. Answer questions in industry or discipline specific forums. Write e-zine articles which link to your blog and website. Track your industry, company name and key individuals and comment on other’s blogs or connect with them through LinkedIn or Twitter, for example. As with Google Alerts, you can set up Twitter Alerts through Twilert or through Twitter. You can have the results sent to your RSS feed or emailed. Actually you can “find” using many of these tactics too.

Another great source of intelligence in consumer marketing is epinions, which are consumer/loyalty panels, basically unpaid advertising. You can find out if your competitors are developing new products and perhaps why through this channel.

Issues around ethics were discussed since it’s easy to misrepresent yourself through social media. People might have several Twitter accounts, for example and don’t use their name or actual photo for some of them. The usual issues of: “Do I connect only with people I know or everyone who asks?” were brought up. In general I notice that consultants are more likely to connect with anyone, while corporate managers are more conservative and connect mostly with people they know, even if only slightly.

I was interested in learning how you can protect yourself within the social networking space. Apparently Beth Shankle, Chief Research Librarian at the National Press Club’s Library is a great resource and teaches courses on the various social media.

How do you use social media for competitive intelligence?

Are We in a Rut in Competitive Intelligence Innovation? #SCIP09 Post-conference

scip-09-chicagoKen Sawka of Outward Insights led this dialog for our friend, Bill Fiora at #SCIP09’s annual conference in Chicago last week.  Bill had a bike accident which kept him home in Boston. The dialog was a follow-up discussion from Bill’s post on our Competitive Intelligence Ning.

We listed many of the common competitive intelligence tools and techniques such as Porters 5 Forces, 4 Corners, War Games, Scenario Planning, SWOTs and competitor profiles.  There hasn’t been much innovation among competitive intelligence tools and techniques that anyone was willing to share.

The innovation that people shared was around process which involved social networks and more sophisticated monitoring and analysis tools. The cost of information acquisition is really inexpensive today even compared to 10 years ago, so companies can afford to text mine and use tools that provide visualization at a reasonable cost.

Another discussion was around trust: management listens to individuals they trust to get strategic intelligence, such as McKinsey.  This is the kind of relationship we in competitive intelligence need to develop with our management through dialog where we become valued. We need to deliver high quality products that address business needs. Ken told a story about a consultant who listened and advised one of the company’s executives on the Friday before the executive held his Monday monthly briefing. He didn’t charge for this time, but he did gain the executive’s trust. This relationship building supports the practice of cooperative intelligence which integrates leadership, connection and communication.

Ken shared another story where a Best Buy manager openly shared that each of its 983 stores used Web 2.0 technology such as a wiki to share day to day store operations, mystery shopping observations, sales results, and all kinds of good scoop, and how this became part of the company’s DNA. I wasn’t surprised since this is how the retail industry works: it’s more of an open book since you can freely walk into your competitor’s store and buy products and assess their service. Another attendee suggested that Best Buy might have implemented more advanced Web 2.0 processes since sharing their story. A participant in the pharmaceuticals was reluctant to share his company’s Web 2.0 practices since this industry is more secretive due to long lead times to get products approved by the FDA and out to the market place.

We concluded that industry norms can be a deterrent to sharing innovation.  However, as we build our human networks and develop trust, we often share our innovation with others, either one on one or among a smaller group. The Council on Competitive Analysis and Liam Fahey’s Knowledge Leadership Forum were sited as two examples of groups with trusting relationships where innovative competitive intelligence practices are shared.

One fear that some expressed is that we could be replaced by artificial intelligence as described in Jeff Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee’s  book On Intelligence.

We concluded with a couple of questions:

1. How do we more effectively improve our value?
2. How do we quantify and communicate the benefits of competitive intelligence?

What do you think?  I’ll be blogging about #SCIP09 sessions this week.  Speaking of innovation, look for a summary of Competitive Intelligence Foundation’s book on Competitive Technical Intelligence (CTI) just released at SCIP 09.

Blogging about Competitive Intelligence from #SCIP09 in Chicago

scip-09-chicagoThis week I will be blogging from SCIP’s annual conference, which takes place in Chicago from April 21 – 24.  While I will not be attending the pre-conference sessions on April 21 and 22, here is some more detail about them.

I will be attending sessions on April 23 and 24, and here is the detail about these sessions including titles, descriptions and speaker bios.  As an attendee, you receive a CD-ROM of all the presentation sessions.

Here are the 10 Random Things I am looking forward to doing at SCIP09 from the Competitive Intelligence Ning where you can check out other’s intentions.

1. I look forward to meeting my SCIP friends and making friends with new people, including some of you on the CI Ning who I only have met electronically

2. I look forward to Robert Bugai’s talk on “Meet the Press” since the journalistic perspective of probing and interviewing has always interested me. (11:35 p.m. Thursday…I just found out he WON’T BE THERE!)

3. I look forward to Bill Fiora’s active dialog on “Are we in a Rut?” (5 p.m. Thursday) This would be a great CI Magazine article.

4. I looking forward to Roger Phelps’ and Suki Fuller’s active dialog session on “Social Networking & Its Role in CI.” (11 a.m. Friday) That will make a great CI Magazine article, don’t you think?

5. Due to my interest in sales intelligence, I look forward to hearing Lisa Hicks talk about “Sharpen Your Sales Results with Win/Loss Analysis Best Practices.” (Noon Friday)

6. I think Eric Garland’s talk on “Keeping Positive: Using Competitive Intelligence to Find New Business Opportunities, ” will be a refreshing slant on using CI not just for threats. (2:45 p.m. Thursday)

7. I’m looking forward to spending some time on the Exhibit Floor, and my focus this year is competitive intelligence software providers like Strategy Software, Comintell, Digimind, Cipher, QL2 and Traction.

8. I’m looking forward to our WLC (Women’s Leadership Council) cocktail party which follows the opening reception in the exhibit hall from 7 – 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

9. I don’t have a booth this year, too much else that I have to do at SCIP09 which would take me away from my exhibit. So, if you want to plan a meeting, here’s how to do it:

Attend one of my talks:

Build a Sustainable Early Warning Process through Cooperative Intelligence (1:40 p.m. Thursday) or
Capture Ccompetitive Intelligence from Sales & Customers to Drive Lucrative Product Development (9:40 p.m. Friday)
I’ll be in the exhibit hall from 9:30 – 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, and some time after my talk around 3 p.m. or so.

Otherwise you can reach me at renaylor@wispertel or 720-480-9499

Or you can Tweet me at http://twitter.com/EllenNaylor as I’ll be part of August Jackson and Suki Fuller’s Twitter team following SCIP 09 (#scip09).

10. I will attend social events where we can meet up as well:

Opening Reception: 5:30 – 7 p.m. Wed
Reception: 6 – 6:30 p.m. Thu
Awards Breakfast: 8 – 9:30 Fri

There is a newcomer’s orientation just before the opening reception, which I usually attend, but I don’t see it on this year’s schedule.

If you participate in the Twitter network, check out our tweets on #scip09.  They can also be viewed through out Competitive Intelligence Ning.

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