This was the title of the UKCIF meeting I attended last night. The aim of the evening was to review and discuss the results of the recent survey that was conducted on how competitive intelligence is changing and developing within organisations. In attendance were seasoned practitioners as well as those new to the area looking to develop their knowledge and skills and make new connections.
Kindly hosted by Andrew Beurschgens, Head of Market Intelligence at everything everywhere (joint venture between Orange and T Mobile), we launched straight into the thick of the research results. What followed was a considered discussion looking at key points that came out of the research. Comforting to me was that CI experiences some of the same challenges as information and knowledge profession; that is, return on investment is all important in this market place. You must continually be able to prove your worth and the worth of what you are doing to the organisations goals. This means it is more and more important to keep an evidenced based record of feedback well after the service has been delivered. Related to this was a focus towards very tactical tasks with defined outcomes although strategy was seen as important particularly by the more seasoned and experienced practitioners, the focus on the tasks could be seen as a way to easily and quickly being able to illustrate the value of the work.
In addition external professional development was important particularly to those in the mid career level of 2-5 years experience. Key skills which were needed over and above the subject and industry expertise were the ability to ‘sell to’, ‘market to’ and ‘educate’ key stakeholders in the organisation of the value of the service being provided. This matches with the requirement for ‘internal consultant’ skill requirements we have seen in different areas of the information profession.
Another key point which I feel could be of note regardless of sector was the move to essentially working smarter not harder. Instead of trying to meet the information/intelligence needs of everyone in the organisation, the trend was to work in a more targeted fashion doing what was needed only when it was needed and prioritise certain requirements as necessary.
The review of the survey ended with a ‘wish list’ of what practitioners would want if they could wave a magic wand. One of the more interesting comments I noted was the desire for ‘tech to hoover the internet’ clearly demonstrating the experience of overwhelming amounts of information available via the internet, social media etc. A key skill going forward is going to be how to sort and make sense of this information easily perhaps a job for the data analysts and applied mathematicians amongst us!