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There are generally three models to organize a competitive intelligence function:

  1. Centralized model: In centralized CI units, actions such as the collection, interpretation, analysis and communication of CI have been assigned to specialized intra organizational intelligence or competitor analysis units.
  2. Decentralized model: Decentralized units typically include the distribution of CI professionals throughout the company where they mainly serve tactical intelligence requirements, and seldom provide intelligence to senior management.
  3. Hybrid model: Hybrid units combine attributes of both centralized and decentralized units.

Each model has its benefits and drawbacks, and any of them can work effectively depending on the situation. More important than having the “correct” model in place is having a centralized tool to collect, communicate and collaborate on the intelligence brought in and the knowledge developed from it.


In each of the models above, collection is a primary function. Very often the same material is of interest to multiple units causing a duplication of efforts. Having a centralized point of access for intelligence eliminates the collection of items more than once, thereby saving time and resources.


Impactful news items get communicated quickly. In decentralized units, other items that may be more critical often do not get shared due to “information overload” or competing priorities which could lead to a missed opportunity to identify a new entrant or connect the dots on a competitor initiative.


Real collaboration among teams is a challenge. Incorporating a centralized tool will assist by providing a resource that is accessible across teams and will aid in collaboration while reducing friction.

Real-Time Access


One of the roadblocks teams face is having access to the same information at the same time. When faced with an important task, without a central location for intelligence, team members can leverage only what they have access to or know exists. This limits the scope by which they can respond to the need. Having a centralized location where all the company’s intelligence is housed provides real-time access to every member of the team regardless of their location, time zone or language.


Certain CI methodologies can feel like pulling together disparate resources, teams and individuals to answer one question. Intelligence efforts from decentralized units can therefore hinder what you need from an intelligence strategy. If you centralize the CI process with an analysis tool, your efforts and resources will be streamlined for efficiency allowing for easier access, collaboration, communication and data collection.


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