How can I learn more about competitive intelligence?
Unfortunately there are not many university and college courses that cover competitive intelligence formally (at least in Europe - there are a few in the USA). CI is available as a module in some (mainly post-graduate) degree courses.
As a result, the best ways of learning about CI will be through
- commercial CI firms offering competitive intelligence training – for example, we offer in-house training covering all aspects of CI;
- The Institute of Competitive Intelligence (ICI) offering a full range of competitive intelligence training options;
- the Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP – www.scip.org) – via SCIP chapter meetings;
- conferences on CI organised by ICI, SCIP and others;
- training companies including competitive intelligence in their course catalogue;
- books on the topic.
SCIP chapter meetings are worth attending if you have a local chapter as these often include speakers covering a variety of topics, so you learn and network at the same time and ICI and SCIP conferences have a wide range of speakers and education opportunities. There is also the Special Libraries Association (SLA) Competitive Intelligence Division within SLA. Also look out for webinars - offered by a range of organisations: ICI, SLA, SCIP.... These are often publicised on the various organisation Facebook and/or LinkedIn pages.
In addition, there are organisations that hold conferences inviting speakers to talk about their own CI practice. One trouble with these is that they tend to target practitioners who already have experience rather than novices. Often they focus on particular industries – telecoms, pharmaceuticals or utilities for example, so are useful for learning about CI in a particular industry.
The Institute of Competitive Intelligence (ICI) is the leading global alternative for competitive intelligence education – offering a full range of course options, covering all aspects of CI. ICI was founded to offer a solid and flexible CI training program leading to a qualification as a certified CI-Professional. This qualification is exam based – and helps make the ICI route to CI education a gold-standard, guaranteeing that alumni will be at the forefront of the field. Faculty include a mix of academics and practitioners – making the ICI the only training option to offer both the intellectual rigour provided by university theoreticians and the practical experience given by experts working in the field.
There are also a few other options available – especially in the USA. These include a Bachelor of Arts in Business & Competitive Intelligence from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, and the Fuld-Gilad-Herring Academy of Competitive Intelligence (ACI) – founded by three recognised experts in CI with many years experience (Leonard Fuld, the founder of a leading CI consultancy, Ben Gilad and Jan Herring). ACI courses are expensive ($10,000+) and are thus more suitable for large corporate organisations with the budget to pay for staff to attend rather than individuals who want to learn more about CI.
For public courses, we recommend the Institute of Competitive Intelligence courses – especially for those seeking accreditation. ICI’s courses are aimed at individuals who want to progress to the top of the CI profession – and are thus less suitable for training groups of individuals from the same company or company department. AWARE’s courses differ from those offered by ICI in that they are not public courses but are offered as in-house courses and customised to individual company and departmental needs.
Note: This FAQ was originally published in the Strategic & Competitive Intelligence Professional‘s membership magazine (Competitive Intelligence Magagzine – Jul-Aug 2002 - page33). The article above has been updated slightly to take account of changes since 2002.