Competitive intelligence is no longer a young discipline. Counting from the 1985 establishment of Motorola’s BI unit by Jan Herring, one of our co-founders, the competitive intelligence field is well past adolescence. So why does is remain in an identity crisis? Why do some academics and consultants continue to debate what makes a CI professional? In other words, are we true professionals or are we still mere fledglings? And can anyone declare: I am a CI professional, or I am a CI consultant?
The answer is not simple. It is inevitably intertwined with the issue of education, accreditation, and the skill set demanded by the profession. Questions like these go to the heart of the matter:
- “Can we be considered a profession if no academic degree is available?" (Answer: definitely!)
- Do we need competitive intelligence certification to be recognized as a profession?" (Answer: It certainly helps.)
- "What makes a successful CI professional?" (Answer: See our 2013 authoritative survey on this question.)
Conflicting language and interests between former government "spooks" and the "business" side of the field only add to the confusion. Are we a legitimate business discipline or an extension of political or military disciplines? (Answer: A resounding No!)
We at the Fuld-Gilad-Herring Academy of Competitive Intelligence faced these questions head on when we decided in 1999 to design a rigorous competitive intelligence certification process.
We believe that competitive intelligence certification raises the standards in the field, so we have taken the initiative on two fronts. First, we decided to offer competitive intelligence certification. Second, we decided to certify the certifier, i.e., seek professional accreditation for our competitive intelligence certification curriculum.
We now grant a Competitive Intelligence Professional (CIP™) certificate. The competitive intelligence certification is granted only after completion of the full course of study, which stands now at eight courses (five core courses for the CIP™-I certification and three advanced courses for the CIP™-II certification). We also offer enrichment courses for the practitioner who needs a deeper dive into certain helpful skills. (Those courses are not required for certification).