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There’s the old joke about military intelligence being a contradiction in terms. And some people might say the same thing about competitive intelligence. But it really isn’t.

Competition is a fact of life. No matter what industry you find yourself in, you have competitors. And you are likely keeping an eye on what they are up to. There’s no doubt that your competition is keeping tabs on your moves. This is, simply put, “intelligence”.

Intelligence is the gathering of information about your enemy. At least, that’s the way the military puts it. But in business, your competition isn’t necessarily your enemy. They are your adversary in the marketplace, but they have as much right to be there as you do. If you want to compete for business then you’ve got to know what your competition offers and how it stacks up against what you have to offer. That’s why it is so important to keep tabs on what they are up to.

You want to be able to respond to the market in a reasonable way. If your competition is driving the market in one direction while you are trying to go in another then it’s important to measure how the market is responding to you as well as to the competition. That’s information you can use to adjust your stance.

That’s about it in a nutshell. Competitive intelligence might sound like an oxymoron, but we call it a necessity.

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