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5 Stages of CI Maturity: Organizing Competitive Intelligence Data [Stage 3]

Fred Hoffman, D.Sc.


July 10, 2018


In Stage 3 of the 5 Stages of CI Maturity we will talk about the data organization process and what will make the difference between extracting meaningful data for analysis and what will hinder you from reaching the greatest potential of your data.

Competitive intelligence and data management require organization and a clear process to ensure useful and accurate results. In our 5 stages of CI series we will be expanding on each stage of a CI workflow to offer greater insight into what makes the process function.

Stage 3: Organizing Competitive Intelligence Data

The data collection process should never come to a full stop. The news never sleeps and you should assume your competitors don't either. In order to keep up with the constant stream of data and create actionable insights from it, it is necessary to sync your data collection efforts with data organization efforts.

Read on to learn about data organization issues to consider:


The sheer volume of data is the most difficult hurdle to overcome. You could dedicate entire teams of people and spend thousands on software solutions just to help collect and organize data but most companies don't factor this as a line-item in their budget. The reality is that the amount of available information is overwhelming for any one person, or even one team to manage without the right tools and processes in place to organize it.

Learn the six steps that will move you along the path toward having an  optimized CI strategy.

As Peter Diamandis from X-prize Foundation says, "Every second of every day, our senses bring in way too much data than we can possibly process in our brains." This highlights a key challenge for competitive intelligence professionals. No human analyst could possibly access and process all of the information necessary to make an educated assessment. The amount of data is constantly increasing and it can quickly become white noise in the research department without filtering and organization.

You also need to understand the requirements for the research you are organizing. If it is being used in a board meeting next month, make sure to understand the format and level of depth that will be expected. Not every source needs to be scoured if the expectation is a high-level understanding of the market at large, but if fine data points need to be compiled and presented, then the organization process will be even more important.

Paring Information Down

Useful data organization means collaborating across teams to consolidate the research the wider team has collected. Experience in data organization plays a role in how much effort you will spend organizing one source versus another. CI research experts know where data lives and can follow a path to reliable sources, organizing the data throughout the process. They work deliberately, filtering out what they know to be erroneous, irrelevant or unethical research details. A reliable "filter" comes from experience across markets and across data sources.

Information Silos

If you are working in a global corporation with teams scattered across regions, you need to have a system or a tool that will effectively facilitate communication between teams. Data control will be imperative as your company grows and expands. Communication breakdowns will at best be frustrating, and at worst have serious negative impacts on your business.

Data can be easily scattered across departments or siloed to specific individuals when there isn't a central repository for organization. Silos of information create issues and those issues will only compound over time. If that scattered information stays with one person, what will happen when that person is out sick, on vacation, or leaving the organization? Without a centralized data repository, data can be challenging to retrieve when it is needed.

Set the Stage for Information Analysis With Well-Organized Data

Well-organized data will be necessary to support the subsequent steps of a CI workflow. In order to accurately analyze CI information to find the answers you planned to find out in step one, you need to have a clear picture of the important points your research has provided you with.

Creating a sustainable method for your team to organize data the way it will be used most effectively will help to centralize efforts and improve data accessibility. Enabling your teams to collaborate through the use of competitive intelligence tools will make the organization process much quicker and more effective.This five part series continues with stage four: Information Analysis.

Download Now:   5 Stages of Competitive Intelligence

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Fred Hoffman, D.Sc.
Fred Hoffman, D.Sc.

Following a 30-year career as an intelligence collector and information operations practitioner in the US Army and multiple civilian intelligence organizations, Fred now draws upon his broad experience in worldwide intelligence collection, information operations, corporate personnel and intellectual property protection to support both government and commercial clients.

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