Competitive Intelligence by Chris West (auth.)

By Chris West (auth.)

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Competitive intelligence can be used to bridge this gap. Joint venture partners, suppliers and distributors The performance track record of all companies with which a potential relationship is being considered should be tested, particularly if the relationship is critical to future performance. It is essential to know whether a business partner is capable of living up to the promises they make, and researching their true capabilities and their reputation with other partners is more accurate than taking trade references and less expensive than finding out by trial and error.

Press stories all too frequently elevate the most innocuous intelligence-gathering exercise to the equivalent of a spy ring organised by the former Stasi. Unfortunately the broader community that often aligns itself with the provision of competitive intelligence sometimes gives them cause to do so. The temptation to initiate a programme of industrial espionage is strong amongst those with low ethical standards or whose need is so great that they are prepared to ignore their usual scruples. Competitive intelligence stands a reasonable chance of obtaining the data that are required but in many cases those that practise industrial Intelligence 23 espionage can almost guarantee that they will be able to obtain what is required.

They cannot be written off as their activities may be underwritten by a venture capitalist or some other external source of capital. Their seriousness as competitors depends on the financial resources they command and their personal and corporate objectives. These will determine whether they are in business for the long term as independent units, whether they are seeking to build a position and then exit by selling to the highest bidder or whether they will hang on until their financial resources are depleted and are then forced to seek a buyer.

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