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Intelligence Tendency 1: Internet changes the business model for CI

One theme discussed by several experts was how the business situation for the Intelligence industry is changing, similar to how the business models of the media industry in general is changing.  A  recurring theme in the interviews was a concern with how new competition from Internet services with a strong end-consumer orientation, such as Google, Twitter and Facebook would affect the competitive intelligence (CI) industry.

The Internet services have features and functionalities that are partly overlapping with services from the CI industry, as well as those of traditional media. In contrast to traditional media, Internet services have business models that can be said to be context-oriented rather than content-oriented, i.e. their primary value lie in structuring and accessing information that already exists, rather than creating new content, which is similar to how many CI firms operate as well.

One observation was that the CI industry, therefore, needs to look more at how to connect and refine knowledge generated from general Internet services instead of traditional media.  Since CI services are relatively expensive services they need to add substantial value “on top” of the Internet-oriented information services to be able to motivate their value for their customers. For example, new CI services could add value by offering different mixtures of more extensive service solutions, adding more analytical power, offering more advanced forms of filtering of information or by making the collaborative and social dimensions of the tools more advanced.

The challenge in this new situation is how to reach out and connect to the new CI users and customers. The CI providers must find ways to explain to their future customers what added value their solutions give and how they are intended to use their products on this new market. For example, the use of many different terms does not make it easier for a non-CI expert to understand, e.g. the confusing terminology of competitive intelligence, business intelligence, knowledge management and market intelligence, and so forth. When users of the intelligence services are no longer “CI specialists”, it is crucial that they are easy to understand the benefits and very simple to use.