Chapter 2

Analytical Tools for Competitive Intelligence: from Data Collection to Data Processing1

2.1. Introduction

Competitive intelligence (CI) emerged as a response to the upheavals caused by the global environment on our society. In an increasingly complex and fast-moving economy, companies must be able to develop new knowledge to maintain levels of innovation and gain a competitive advantage [OUB 05]. In addition to this, the use of information and communications technology (ITC) has introduced new constraints to which businesses must adapt to survive: a continuous flow of information, considerably faster circulation of information, and evermore complex techniques (it is more and more difficult to rapidly master new software) [COL 97]. There is a risk of “drowning” in this information, of losing the ability to distinguish between the essential and the superfluous. With the emergence of the new market-dominated economy, the industrial issues facing businesses have increased considerably in complexity. Now, to remain competitive, a business must be able to manage its intangible assets. CI is an approach and an organizational process that allows a company to be more competitive, through surveillance of the environment and of external changes alongside self-evaluation of internal changes.

In 2000, 6 years after the canonical definition put forward by Martre [MAR 94], the borders of the notion of CI were still unstable [SAL 00]. Over the last few years, more and more definitions ...

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