I interviewed Nanette Bulger who discussed The Evolving Role of Intelligence.
It’s nice to speak with you again, Nan. We’ve done an interview recently, not too long ago. Last time you were talking about how the market has evolved in terms of the availability of data and the evolving nature of intelligence and globalization. Can you recap for us why this has led you to push for a new concept called integrated intelligence rather than focusing just on competitive intelligence?
Sure, thank you for the question, Dustin. It’s great to be here as well, so thank you for the time here this afternoon. There’s definitely, as everyone knows, a lot more data out there today. Also, the availability of the data is much more prevalent as well. There are very sophisticated analytics tools being used today to really triangulate some of the basic information. While that’s all happening, there’s also extreme globalization going on, so companies are multinationals today, and they have to work across a variety of markets. What that does is really creates a complex set of intelligence needs because you have to understand regional needs of different countries, different regions of the globe and so forth. You may have a product or service that works in one country, and it may not work in another country or globalization area.
You really need to have what we call intelligence pools or understanding different types of intelligence and the information that comes from those intelligence pools, and you integrate those together to really tell a story. An example of an intelligence pool would be something like something from economic intelligence or something about the market, which would be market intelligence and so forth. It’s really important to understand everything that’s driving a market in a particular region, and that’s why we’re pushing more for integrated intelligence rather than just the competitive intelligence piece, which was often siloed from market research and customer insights, just as a simple example.
Can you describe the basics of integrated intelligence? What does it mean when you say “integrated intelligence”?
In the past—the recent past, even, the past 30 years—competitive intelligence has really focused on the competitive landscape or competitors. What has happened over time is it’s actually become a very confusing concept because, in some palaces or some companies, they’ll call this very concept market intelligence, some will call it competitive intelligence, some will call it competitor intelligence or even business intelligence, all meaning the same definition. The definition has gotten quite confused over time. The truth is that intelligence is used for decision support. You have a variety of different intelligence data points that you need to triangulate. To alleviate this confusion of definitions, what we’ve done is brought together what we call the integrated-intelligence concept, these different pools.
What that means is, I might pull economic-intelligence data from economic intelligence. I might pull drivers about a particular market through market-intelligence capabilities. I want to understand the competitive landscape by understanding competitors and the intelligence about competitors. In the business-intelligence arena, I want to be able to have the skillsets to understand how to size markets, do segmentation, use Big Data analytics to triangulate massive amounts of information through IT tools. Customer intelligence, which has often been siloed from CI, where I understand market research and value drivers, NPS—which is net-promoter score—and so forth. And then competitive technical intelligence, which really brings in what customers need in terms of product value drivers and is used in R and D to really develop products.
Integrative intelligence really includes driving factors that you collect from all of these different areas of economic, market, competitor, BI, customer intelligence, and CTI, or competitive-intelligence techniques to build a strategy. That’s what integrated intelligence is all about.
The next time we speak, we’ll talk a little bit more about how we take this concept and integrate with other disciplines within a company to provide robust insight.
Is there any more you could say about how you see companies making use of integrated intelligence? For example, what do they gain by implementing this? What’s really happening?
It is definitely not theory. Just to review, integrated intelligence is made up of competitive intelligence, the integration with market intelligence, integration with BI, or business intelligence, concepts, the intelligence you get from technical, economic areas, customer insights, and so forth. That’s what we call integrated intelligence, and it’s bringing these pieces of intelligence that come from these various intelligence insight pools, as we call it, bringing those together to make a comprehensive decision. Just to review, that’s what integrated intelligence is.
As far as whether it’s really happening or not, processes, tools—and not just IT tools, but decision frameworks and dashboards—are being put in place that bring together these various insight pools, triangulate this intelligence, and so forth.
How can I use drivers that I get from these various insight pools to derive customer insights in competitive roles and market drivers?
I triangulate them together and I’m able to decipher things about markets because I’ve looked at this broad scope. Let me just give you an example. Say, for instance, you’re in the medical market, and the market reveals a particular health issue is prevalent in a particular region of the globe, but the government policies in that region reveal through my economic intelligence that the government won’t pay for patients to have this particular procedure to fix this disease prevalence.
What that means is that I have a market where there’s a variant to entry for me. Maybe my competitor has lower prices enough that customers can pay out of pocket, but I can’t do that. As a company, you have to come to the realization that your products won’t sell in that market unless you come up with a different pricing strategy or so forth. If I understand my economic intelligence regardless of the fact that I know there’s a market, I’ll know whether or not I can participate in that. It’s bringing that economic-intelligence-insight pool into scope with what my competitors are doing, from CI, and what my customer insights are saying I need in order to make a decision about that market and to adjust my strategy accordingly.
It’s very real and it’s bringing those insights together not just within the intelligence scope, but bringing those to your strategy people, bringing those insights to your finance people, to your pricing people in order to come up with decisions about a market.
How will that affect how competitive intelligence and strategy experts do their job? How will it affect the discipline overall in how we work?
Well, it certainly means that intelligence professionals will have to have a myriad of skills, or you’ll have to have a group of intelligence experts who has the various skills but works very closely together to bring together these intelligence-insight pools. It also means that strategists and others are building the skillset within competitive or other various areas of intelligence to become more sophisticated.
It certainly means that the discipline is going to become much more sophisticated in the skillsets they have in their ability to triangulate across various intelligence-insight pools and across various disciplines within the company. I think it’s a very exciting time because there’s definitely a need to ensure that you’re not doing things in silo but that you’re interacting with other professionals, you’re learning about those disciplines, you’re understanding what they need to make decisions about, and what intelligence they can bring to the pie as well. Again, it’s a very exciting time.
What’s next? What are some of the final words?
I think I kind of said it before. I think it’s a very exciting time to be in the profession of intelligence. I think there are tremendous opportunities for those who are very well-rounded and have very well-rounded skills in integrated-intelligence capabilities. I also think that the more sophisticated we become in these skillsets and the more we learn about other disciplines, the better off we are in our ability to help our companies compete on a global level.
Those are really my final words. That’s where SCIP is actually driving to, in training integrated-intelligence professionals to understand various skillsets, other disciplines, how we interact, how we bring information in intelligence from the various intelligence pools into the decision-making processes.
About Nan (Nanette) Bulger
Nan (Nanette) Bulger
CEO, Thought Leader, Change Agent, CI, MI, Strategist, Prod. Dev. Engineer, Profit, Non-Profit