Chapter 13

The Competitive Intelligence Mandate

“What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.”

—Sun Tzu, on The Art of War (500 BC)

As discussed throughout this book, effective business analytics is about integrating different types of information across your organization in order to address critical questions and help your company achieve its key business objectives. Gaining insight about your competitors through intelligence gathering may seem like common sense to you; however, it is amazing how many companies do not formalize this process or make it part of their strategic business analytics initiatives. What is more common in organizations is that with everyone moving so rapidly, keenly trying to satisfying customers and running the organization, people tend to concentrate more on the analysis of internally focused business problems than on an outward scan.

For example, one of the coauthors, Jesse Harriott, recalls a time in the late 1990s when he was working with a well-established background verification company as a consultant, helping it use fact-based strategies to increase its new customer acquisition rates and decrease its existing customer attrition. The company provided pre-employment background investigation services to different types of organizations, mostly to its HR departments. It provided services such as drug testing, criminal background checking, and employment ...

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