Deltl: “Start with 5 forces, then focus on threath and opportunities”

There are always some tendencies to consider a competitive intelligence as a box of tools that is only for the global giants. Well, I tried to ask a great German CI expert, Jonannes Deltl, if there some ways for SMEs to mine a gold from a CI too. Do not worry, there are some…

Competitive Intelligence is often perceived as a set of methods that are determined only for the biggest players on the market. Try to explain how can SMEs use a CI and why do you think that the most of them deny (or do not know) it?
Excellent CI with all the methods and structures in place can better be implemented in larger firms as you need resources to build it up effectively. But standard KITs can of course be answered also by small sized companies. Realistically these topics are competing with several other tasks that s SME manager has on his desk. My advice would be to start from the 5 forces and discuss regularly what market force has the biggest impact on the company now and in the near future. Then focus on the main threats and opportunitie.

On the other hand, how many people should administer a CI department in a large company? Or do you prefer a solution with the outsourcing? What knowledge should have a good CI manager?
Depending what you include as CI. Some companies have up to 300 managers more closely involved into intelligence related activites. This number is for a multinational company >100.000 employees. And it is also including folks for technology intelligence, customer insights, procurement intelligence or sales intelligence. The pure CI function on corporate level is acting often with a handfull of managers. Outsourcing can help the internal workforce to focus on task higher up the value chain. Simple data gatherings and basic analysis can/should be outsourced. The skillset of a good CI manager should incude excellent networking skills, great analytical skills, a passion for information and sources and business acumen. This said it is pretty tough to find this skillset in one person so ideally you can relate to a team composition that includes everything.

The whole CI implementation process is also about the investment. Would you be able to define a financial level that could be easily adopted and accepted by a start-up?
There is no rule of thumb – it depends strongly on the industry and the financial backing of the startup. Acrasio conducted several studies on CI and asked also about the CI budget available – it turned out that we received more questions about definitions of budget than answers.

By the way, what external data should observe a team behind a start-up to avoid an early fall?
I would take a strong look at the existing market players and on the other hand analyze why similar startups have failed. Speak to potential buyers and clients of your main competitors to understand the decision behavior.