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The Evolution of Competitive Intelligence

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Competitive Intelligence [CI] has gone through an evolution since becoming a corporate function nearly 4 decades ago.  Once viewed as a niche area handled by somebody with the background of a CIA operative, we have seen tremendous growth in businesses adopting and implementing best practices to change how work is done and how intelligence is applied to business issues.  Most importantly, the function of competitive intelligence has grown to become a core component of developing a sound strategic road map for driving business growth and no longer seen as somebody’s “part-time” job.

In fact, we now see CI as an important cog in the machine with a dedicated role, embedded within broader business functions, working hand in hand with product marketing, market strategy, customer insights, sales support and financial planning teams.

What has driven the growth and justification for CI in today’s business environment?  A few things come to mind:

  • The maturing of social networks such as LinkedIn and businesses that cater to the market with developed and nurtured databases of KOLs (key opinion leaders) has broadened access to more experts who can provide insights into those hard to answer questions that can’t be obtained from public sources.
  • The rapid pace of change and innovation, regardless of your industry, has required firms to be nimbler in understanding how markets are shifting in real-time, and identifying what actions to take to trailblaze a market or implement strategic countermoves.
  • Businesses have moved, or are trying to move, toward being an intelligent company.  This means applying an evidence-based approach to execute on tactical and strategic initiatives through use of business intelligence, market research, data analytics, KPIs, improved management reporting and effective information sharing to generate real competitive advantages.  CI can play a huge role in all these activities.
  • The emergence of technology blended with human intelligence is changing the game for CI.  The industry has seen advancements in how CI is carried out through increased efficiency with SaaS tools combined with deep expert insights, leading to greater adoption by highly developed, mid-to-moderate-sized enterprises. These are businesses big enough to know they need CI but not quite big enough to build in-house teams, so instead are leveraging AI technologies and working with external partners to deliver the human intelligence piece that a bot can’t.

The winning formula for today’s best-in-class approach – and people are getting on board!



As professionals in the industry, we understand the value and importance of competitive intelligence, and as a pioneer in the market with over four decades of experience, Fuld & Company has seen how CI has grown and become a more elevated role with organizations.. The challenge has always been to justify investment in the resources, partners, and tools necessary to deliver a clear and measurable result. This is easier now more than ever given the many resources and options available in the market for CI professionals.

Given the ever-changing, complex business environment we operate in, analysts, strategists, and corporate executives seek actionable intelligence tailored to solve their specific challenges. Our industry has evolved and will continue to do so, and our advice is to embrace the best of what is available and continue to demonstrate the value that competitive intelligence brings to your organization.

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