Competitive intelligence consulting is a business practice where a company is given information about its field, potential products, and goals via external sources. The consulting firm gathers and aggregates information about a wide range of business practices in order to give clients a clear picture of the state of the market and competition as it relates to any given project. This information is acquired through a wide range of methods, but public bulletins, case and research studies, and detailed trend analysis make up the bulk of the sources.
The field of competitive intelligence consulting has blossomed since the late 1990s. Faster Internet connection speeds and public information databases brought a wealth of knowledge to businesses that simply wasn’t present before. As the amount of information grew, the ability to condense and analyze the information in a timely manner became nearly impossible for many firms. Specialized consultation firms began to spring up, offering detailed and customized information done via the third-part company.
High-speed Internet access forms the backbone of many competitive intelligence consulting companies. As computer power and speed improved, public information was stored on computer with greater frequency. This information had always existed, but it was only in hard copy and often stored a great distance from the people who wanted to see it. The enormity of gathering all of the necessary information in one place was outside the limits of most companies.
Now, these consultation firms are able to gather information from all around the world and compile it into common themes and trends. Public corporate information and scholarly research projects make up most of the hard information. The facts gathered through these sources often make a baseline to which the other information is compared.
The theoretical information provided by a competitive intelligence consulting company comes from trend analysis. This is the practice of looking at information from past events and correlating it to current events. The information gathered in the first part of the study is used to determine the likely outcome of later actions.
Using the information about current business climates and the likely outcomes of various actions, a competitive intelligence consulting company is able to advise businesses on the proper course of action for their specific circumstances. It is this comparison that is the true value given by a specialized consulting firm, as in-house analysis rarely has the resources to bring this level of information together. This means that the business is more likely to make correct decisions and, therefore, is more likely to be successful.