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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Follow Up on Weblogs and Competitive Intelligence 

In one of my first posts I was discussing the use that can be made of weblogs in competitive intelligence activities. I promised to follow up on this topic so here we go, in a very non-scientific and non-academic way:

Topics:
1) Does it sell?
I discovered that senior managers don’t pay much attention to the sources used in a competitive intelligence report as long as it makes sense. Then, if the logic is good, the report sells well. “Academic” references are not necessarily seen as being of higher quality. A poor paper containing numerous academic references remains a poor paper. Furthermore, senior managers barely read reports. They prefer by far to get an executive summary or a short presentation. In these cases, the references are not even mentioned.

2) Does it contribute to a higher quality?
My last reports have been (I think) more provocative than they used to be and they are selling well. The ideas proposed are more on the edge and are supported by thoughtful arguments provided by inspired individuals. Quality here is hard to measure but I think my competitive intelligence reports are much better now.

3) Does it allow cost savings?
Competitive intelligence costs have 3 components: search costs, content costs and time costs.
· Search costs seem higher when I am looking for a well-defined topic but much lower when looking at larger topics and trends. In the first case, the need is more punctual, in the latter, more continuous.
· I never pay for content so this cost is not relevant for me.
· Weblogging is time-consuming. But the point is that I consider much of this time to be related to my personal learning and not only related to my competitive intelligence tasks. So yes it takes more time, but the outcome goes well beyond only fulfilling a competitive intelligence mandate.

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