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Two weeks ago, Cipher sponsored the 30th Anniversary SCIP International Conference & Exhibition in Atlanta, GA joining the world’s leaders in Competitive Intelligence for four days of keynotes, breakout sessions, and exhibitions. Experience levels at the conference ranged from long-time leaders of global corporate CI teams to individuals tasked with building their own, but everyone came together to discuss new ideas, tools, and skillsets to enhance their companies’ CI strategy. General Sessions ranged from CI best practices in highly regulated industries to implementing data visualization to enhance CI.

Cipher had the opportunity to lead two breakout sessions, in addition to delivering one of the keynote addresses. Here were some of the key takeaways from those sessions:

Quarterbacking the CI Process- Cipher’s Managing Director Peter Grimm and Director of Business Development Beau Oliver teamed with Dawn Faint, Strategy & Competitive Intelligence Manager at CIGNA Healthcare and a longtime Cipher client to lead a strategic workshop on “Quarterbacking the Competitive Intelligence Process.” The session covered a high level overview of the practice of competitive intelligence and where it’s headed and then dove into characteristics of effective CI, key tools to leverage, and an introduction to a CI Framework practitioners could take back to their organizations. Participants were challenged to apply this framework to their organization’s CI function and then compare commonalities among their peers to gain insights from various industries and organizations. We also had a lively discussion around important questions like how to facilitate collaboration, what tools and resources to leverage, and how to anticipate strategic surprise in today’s world of information overload.

Advanced Analysis: When it’s Worth Investing in Structured Techniques and When it’s Not- Cipher’s Managing Director Peter Grimm teamed with John Kringen, Former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence and Senior Advisor to Cipher Systems, to lead an advanced-level workshop on “Advanced Analysis: When it’s Worth Investing in Structured Techniques, and When it’s Not.” Peter and John discussed commonly used Structured Analytic Techniques employed in the US Intelligence Community and how and when they should be applied to mitigate cognitive bias in commercial strategic decision-making. They covered techniques ranging from Red Team Analysis to Analysis of Competing Hypotheses, providing benefits, drawbacks and applications for each in the commercial world using anecdotes from the IC. Participants then had the opportunity to discuss which techniques could be most effective in their CI environments.

Applying Lessons from Government Intelligence Reforms to Change the Game in CI- Senior Advisor to Cipher Systems and Former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence John Kringen delivered one of the keynote addresses during the General Session. John walked the audience the analysis contained in our recent white paper on lessons to apply from the Intelligence Community to Commercial Competitive Intelligence.   For each of the five lessons, John provided an anecdote from his time in the IC and how it could apply to the current state of commercial CI engagements. Two key lessons John brought up were to develop credible mechanisms to anticipate strategic surprise and to leverage insight wherever it resides. Implementing structured analytic approaches and utilizing and engaging strengths from across your organization will help bring success not only to CI efforts, but across the company as a whole. 

Exciting launch of our groundbreaking new CI technology solution Knowledge.360- Cipher also provided attendees with a sneak peek at our new CI and knowledge management technology solution, Knowledge.360. Key features include customizable dashboards, on-demand company data and information, trend monitoring and analysis, federated searching, advanced reporting features, and collaboration and work flow management portals. Conference attendees had the opportunity to stop by the booth to see demos and apply specific use cases to understand how K.360 could best meet their CI needs.

Key Takeaways- Throughout the conference, during both organized sessions and networking, we noticed two key areas of continued interest: communication and resource allocation. Regardless of the size and maturity of CI functions, communication (and collaboration, more specifically,) remain at the heart of strategic competitive intelligence. CI groups and individuals are constantly working to leverage and engage all areas of their organizations more successfully, to ensure they’re managing client, competitor, and internal information most effectively. Communication and collaboration are keys to success in this arena. Another “game changer” is resource allocation. Understanding strengths/capabilities, responsibilities, and resources across your organization are crucial in forming a comprehensive CI capability. Having a firm grasp on these areas help ensure the strategic success of an organization as a whole, regardless of your budget. The world of CI is ever-evolving from the frameworks to the technologies, but the end goal remains the same: to strategically plan for the competition- this conference allowed its network of attendees to connect, share best practices, and learn from one another to better prepare their organizations for the future.   Start a conversation with Cipher today to learn how we can help your company navigate your competitive intelligence function. Contact us to learn more.