Books | Competitive Intelligence

Based on the recommendation of a colleague, I recently read Competitive Intelligence Advantage, by Seena Sharp. The book focuses on ways to use information to minimize risk, avoid surprises and grow business in a rapidly changing world.

Sharp defines competitive intelligence as “the knowledge and foreknowledge about the entire business environment that results in action.” Some of her key points include:
  • Competitive intelligence is NOT market research
  • Being in business requires constant learning
  • The gap between familiar and unfamiliar is yesterday intersecting with tomorrow, and in the middle is change
  • Informed risk is a competitive advantage
  • Good news is good news
  • Bad news may be even better news, if it helps you make a decision and take action
  • Change, not competitors, are an indication of opportunity
  • Good communications are important to customers in both good times and bad
  • Effective communication channels improve performance and customer satisfaction
I had a few “ah-ha” and many “oh-yeah” moments (as in: yep, that’s a good reminder of something familiar). As a reader, I would have welcomed more charts and graphics to gain a much-needed break from the wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling text.

On the other hand, if this is a topic that interests you, this is a solid book with useful content. Sharp makes a decent argument that change is not a threat, it’s a gift … if you’re prepared and know how to handle it.

The most successful companies in the future may be those who are sufficiently risk-tolerant to take action when only part of the picture or trend is evident. This raises two powerful questions to consider: Does that describe you? Your company?

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