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The CIP program was the best professional training I have received in my 20 year career. I was amazed at the knowledge and insight which allowed the Academy to present multiple full days of information in an organized fashion, and still grip the attention of every student in the class. The program presented more than just the tools of the trade, it challenged the class to think critically. And that, I believe, is the essence of competitive intelligence.

-Dr. David Nixon, Northrop Grumman

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Modules, Individual Courses, & Our CIP® Certification Are Available In-House!

In a world where all companies virtually have equal access to market and competitive information, it’s the ones who astutely use this information who will win in their markets.

There are basically two main reasons companies have increasingly turned to in house CI training with us in recent years:

  • 1. Economies of in-house training of a large number of managers vs the travel and tuition for outside programs. The program is economical with as few as 15 people.
  • 2. The ability to create instant internal networks of managers and analysts across various businesses who share the same frameworks and templates for their CI work.

ACI can work with your company to transform many of your managers in various functions dealing with the external competitive environment into true knowledge workers. Our faculty can deliver our classic CIP® education program courses, covering theory and leading edge practices from the basic collection to advanced analysis, from running the CI function to a sophisticated industry risk and opportunity management methodologies.

Whether your company brings us in for a few courses or the entire certificate program, we bring years of experience and breadth of cross industry lessons to bear on discussions with your managers. And, as an added and valuable benefit, your managers can earn internationally-recognized, IACET-approved CEUs for each course completed, enhancing their professional career status.

10 Reasons Why Every Manager Needs Education In CI

Effective decision making lies at the heart of competitive intelligence. “Ready, aim, aim!” is how Mr. T. Boone Pickens, one of world’s greatest oil and gas speculators, describes managers who cannot act upon important information. “There are lots of managers that can never pull the trigger,” Mr. Pickens stated when interviewed about the value of CI to decision-making. Those managers who learn the principles of CI learn quickly how to use the right information to arrive at the best, most expedient (not necessarily the perfect) decision. Competitive intelligence is about making reasoned, rational decisions while under pressure. ACI places its students in real-life situations where they have to apply all the tools and techniques to derive accurate, timely decisions.
While the CI profession does not promise to deliver a crystal ball, it has developed numerous, time-tested approaches and techniques to help management prepare rationally for the future. Early warning systems aim at avoiding surprises and taking early advantage of a competitive opportunity. Whether learning how to identify competitive blindspots, conduct war-gaming sessions, or apply models to anticipate predatory activity in your market, a CI curriculum provides a variety of frameworks for early warning management of nearly every competitive situation.
A competitive intelligence professional should provide his or her company with the mechanisms to reduce or minimize industry risk. Industry risk – risk that emanates from industry-wide forces – needs to be systematically and proactively managed, just as the more commonly perceived financial risks are managed. Examples of industry risk include disruptive technologies, long-term changes in consumer preferences, performance rise/price decline of substitute industries, an entry of “rule changing” competitors, formation of a new alliance that changes the company’s competitive position, etc. The ability to navigate through industry risk can spell the difference between corporate success and failure. This is a critical arena for CI education and one upon which ACI places special emphasis during its training.
Succeeding in business requires you take an active – not a passive approach – to nearly every aspect of business, including intelligence gathering. When a business crisis looms or someone “upstairs” exerts pressure to deliver results, those educated in competitive intelligence will understand the boundaries within which they can work without stepping over the legal or ethical line. Potential misrepresentation, conflicts of interest, internal management disputes, overselling of findings, trade secret and intellectual property rights, bribery and use of third parties, are among the many issues a CI professional must learn. How to apply these guidelines globally, examine alternate strategies to deliver critical information, know how to work within the ethical “gray zone” are all part of a complete CI education.
Do not mistake competitive intelligence with knowledge management. Competitive intelligence always has a direct, profit-generating purpose. While knowledge management essentially tries to harness all the information contained with a company, its purpose is not always clear. A CI education extracts the lessons learned from some of the greatest entrepreneurs and business managers in modern times, and it does so with far more than anecdotes. Whether tactical (such as determining a rivals’ pricing strategy), or strategic (such as understanding long-term competitive repositioning across the globe), competitive intelligence is a practical craft that your management will appreciate for its bottom-line view of the world.
Information overload is not simply the problem of too many Web sites. It is a real problem that the CI discipline addresses very directly through critical analysis and intelligence process techniques – techniques for everyone from the Board of Directors down through the sales force. Information overload is the result of not knowing how to handle the information you have. Robert Crandall, former CEO of American Airlines knows how to manage whatever information confronts him. When asked by Leonard Fuld what he thought of the prospect of information overload, he could only laugh: “We are the same people we were 10,000 years ago but the fact is we’ve got a brain which is capable of vastly more because we have better information, we have better tools. So this whole notion of being overwhelmed is nonsense…” A CI education will teach you how to manage the information flow and focus your management on the most critical intelligence issues.
A well-trained competitive intelligence professional knows how to keep an objective view of the market realities and therefore, avoid blinders. Companies, especially successful ones, fall prey to pervasive and unchallenged “formulas” and beliefs about how things work, or should work. The result is that they ignore or deny strategic changes that transform markets, and keep using the same old conventional wisdom. When reality hits, it typically ushers in a severe crisis. An educated CI professional is the last line of defense: he or she will help the company identify sources of critical changes in the market early enough to make a difference, create proactive intelligence for preemptive strategic moves, as well as analyze strategic options for quick reactions allowing the change to be an opportunity.
Running an intelligence program requires specific management skills unique to the operation of intelligence activities inside firms. A comprehensive CI education will provide you with the background, knowledge and skills necessary to manage all five steps in the intelligence cycle: (1) Plan and define your organizations intelligence objectives, including how to conduct an Intelligence Audit®, needs assessment and development of KITs (Key Intelligence Topics); (2) Learn where and how to apply the secondary sources without being overloaded or snowed by the volume of information;(3) Develop effective means to gather primary information, including human source collection – and the legal and ethical guidelines that go along with such collection;(4) Apply the right analysis models to the right situation – and stay rooted in the real world issues your company must face; and (5) Finally, learn how to effectively deliver intelligence to management.
While not the primary objective in a competitive intelligence education, the discipline will show how any company can slow down or prevent information leaks altogether. Learning the array of information and human source collection techniques will teach managers the steps a company can take to protect its information from rivals.
Perspective is the hallmark of a solid competitive intelligence education. It teaches how to manage and assess the many types of external challenges facing a company’s leaders. The CI discipline shows the business executive where and when to apply a company’s valuable yet limited resources to meet a particular challenge. It allows the executive to have an outside perspective – an external focus which is so crucial for management today. It breaks down the “fire fighting” mentality and the insulation of a disciplinary silo. It is the last bastion of global, general, strategic perspective available in management education today.
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When theoretical concepts and practical implementation come together, the value it creates is mind blowing.
Quinton Swart, Sasol Oil
Excellent tactical program for educating CI professionals – well worth the time spent.
Mike Deport, F. Hoffmann La-Roche
Excellent, introduction to CI Analytical Frameworks
Guy Ruediger, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

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