Competitive Intelligence Today it is not necessarily money that makes the world go around, but information, and the timeliness of that information. The topic thread for DQ2 this week, competitive intelligence, gave rise to some discussion regarding the boundaries of good market research versus unethical/illegal acts of spying. What are the differences, and does it matter how an organization gains market/competitive intelligence? An exercise that I will ask you all to review and provide your insights on, is this. Consider the information gathering techniques described below, what is your view on whether it is acceptable, illegal, or unethical, and which would you use or not use? 1. Public plant tours – Firms often give tours of their plants/facilities to the public or to potential clients. Observations of the plant can be a dead giveaway. 2. Analysis of help wanted ads – Help wanted ads are, in effect, press releases. The kinds of people a company hires are potent clues as to what it will be up to next. 3. Buying/acquiring competitor’s garbage – Once trash has left a competitors premises, it is legally classified as abandoned property. Sometimes valuable information is thrown out in the trash. Smart competitors shred any documents that contain information that could be used by rivals. 4. Secret shoppers/customers – Using employees to pose as potential clients/customers in order to acquire pricing specs for products/services is a way to gain insights to what a competitor is launching or changes being made to price or feature functionality. 5. Intentional spying – unauthorized access to a competitors building/facility or using someone to attain employment with the competitor as a means to gaining access to intelligence on the organization.