3 Minute Read

Knowledge is power, but it is always? Fredrick the Great famously said, “He who seeks to know everything, knows nothing.” and we tend to agree. The challenge facing businesses and decision-makers today isn’t lack of access to, but an overload of data and information that may or may not be relevant to them and their organizations. 

In a 30-minute webinar, our former Director of Research, Fred Hoffman, breaks down the three disciplines of business intelligence (BI), competitive intelligence (CI), and knowledge management (KM) that form the strategic intelligence triad. 

Taking full advantage of using strategic intelligence to remain competitive requires a full understanding of the difference between CI, BI, and KM and then how to leverage them together. Borrowing from the knowledge shared during Fred’s webinar, let’s dive into each of these disciplines. 

Competitive Intelligence 

Competitive Intelligence (CI) focuses on external data about your competitors to help you find and maintain a competitive advantage.

As the name suggests, CI is the investment in the gathering and analysis of information regarding your industry, current competitors, target markets. The insights that come from CI are important as they aid business leaders in the creation of strategies and business practices that allow for growth and increased stability. 

Different Types of Competitive Intelligence 

There are two main types of CI, Strategic (SI) and Tactical Intelligence (TI). 

The first, SI, focuses on the horizon of what’s yet to come. When using competitive intelligence strategically, leadership is asking themselves questions like: 

  • What do the next five years look like for our organization? 
  • What competitive changes will affect where we want to go? 
  • How does what the market is doing today change the outcome of our future? 

While Tactical Intelligence is designed to answer more immediate and shorter-terms questions. When leveraging TI leadership is asking themselves:

  • How do we increase our revenue? 
  • What is our current market share and how do we increase that? 
  • What changes can we make in the next year that will provide us with a more immediate return on our investment? 

How To Access Competitive Intelligence 

With the value of competitive intelligence coming from external sources, you have a few sources for gathering your information. The majority of competitive intelligence comes from: 

  • Publicly available information (PAI)
  • Network connections (people) 
  • News outlets
  • Industry publications 
  • Competitor Press 

Business Intelligence 

Business Intelligence (BI) focuses on internal data from within your company’s own operations to help you improve business operations.

If competitive intelligence looks outward, business intelligence looks inward, at itself to glean insights that should be influencing larger business decisions. A combination of both strategy and technology, BI is most often used by enterprise-level organizations to build predictive views of their business, using both historical and current data. 

Gathering business intelligence isn’t as simple as requesting quarterly reports from each department head, it requires a full analysis of large amounts of data, not all structured to identify relevant trends to develop new business opportunities. 

The outcomes of the investment in BI are used to support business decisions, both operational and strategic. 

Given the nature, vastness, and volume of data required to build the reliable and predictive models that come from business intelligence, technology is always required. 

Different Types of Business Intelligence Tools 


Analytics is a business intelligence technique that involves the study of available data to extract meaningful insights and trends. This is a popular BI technique since it lets businesses deeply understand the data they have and drive ultimate value with data-driven decisions.

Data Mining

Technically, data mining is the process of finding correlations or patterns among dozens of fields in large relational databases. There are two types of data mining: descriptive, which gives information about existing data; and predictive, which makes forecasts based on the data. To reach this end, data mining uses statistics and, in some cases, Artificial Intelligence and Neural Networks algorithms.

Predictive Modeling

Predictive Modeling uses AI to create predictive models of potential outcomes based on data collected from competitive and business intelligence activities. These models are not guaranteed, but depending on the quality of the information provided they are powerful tools for business leaders seeking to navigate their ship

Knowledge Management

Knowledge management (KM) is the process of creating, sharing, using and managing the knowledge and information of an organization.

Knowledge management is not an information organization process or file management, as you might expect in supply chain management. CRM and ERP systems are not considered knowledge management because they deal with what is considered to be pre-knowledge. KM involves a real-life human applying tacit and explicit knowledge to data and information, creating new knowledge by managing the knowledge gathered from CI and BI. 

Knowledge management is most effective in a corporate culture that emphasizes knowledge sharing. This does not mean that everyone in an organization should have unfettered access to all information. It means that different types of knowledge that are valuable to the company are systematically captured, stored, and made rapidly and easily, easily accessible to those who have a legitimate need.

The Strategic Intelligence Triad

Known as the Strategic Intelligence Triad, CI, BI & KM are critical components of using data and the power of applied knowledge to create strategic advantages for any organization. Each discipline focuses on a different source of information: CI uses an external source, BI uses internal sources, and KM requires the source of human intelligence and discernment. 

Want to hear directly from Fred how this triad is leveraged by enterprise companies to increase their stability and inform their strategies? Watch his full webinar below.

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