COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE IS FOR EVERYBODY
Considering the examples in your article on competitive intelligence (CI), readers might conclude that only large companies need or can afford to implement CI ("They snoop to conquer," The Corporation, Oct. 28). But CI is important to businesses of all sizes, and it can be quite inexpensive. Even a company with only one employee can, with a little imagination and creativity, gather CI to position itself better in the market. A wealth of free information is as close as the public library. Another source of information is intelligent conversation. And CI should not be limited to the competition. It can also be helpful when used with clients and prospects. Know thyself, know thy market...and know thy enemy.
While it was nice to see BUSINESS WEEK providing the burgeoning field of competitive intelligence with some well-deserved coverage, I was surprised that no mention was made of our association, the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP). The society is a 10-year-old, global, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping members enhance their firms' competitiveness through greater ethical competitive intelligence. We also work to further CI as a profession, organizing conferences, publishing books and journals, and supporting 36 local SCIP chapters.
President, Society of Competitive
The article on competitive intelligence omitted one important tool: patent searches. In the U.S., all patent applications are held in secret until the issuance or abandonment of the application. Therefore, U.S. companies cannot know what their competitors are investing in or what they are seeking protection on. In high-stakes technology, this information could be valuable.
But in most other countries--Canada, for example--a patent application is published, or opened to the public, 18 months after filing. Therefore, if a U.S. company seeks to know what its rivals are doing, research into the Canadian Patent & Trademark Office will yield quicker results than waiting several years for U.S. patents. Moreover, the costs associated with a Canadian patent-office search are nominal, and the search in perfectly legal.
ChicagoReturn to top
FIDEL RAMOS' LASTING LEGACY
I read with interest your story on the Philippines ("The road after Ramos," International Business, Oct. 28). It is important to acknowledge the reforms and achievements of President Fidel V. Ramos, which have brought about dramatic change for the Philippines and its people. In years to come, history books will record this as a time when the Philippines began to emerge as a world-class, global economic power.
Brook D. Downie
Melbourne, AustraliaReturn to top
WHAT'S MISSING FROM THE B-SCHOOL PICTURES?
The sample polled in your business-schools issue--recent graduates and recruiters--raises questions about your rating system ("The best B schools," Cover Story, Oct. 21). Neither group sees the whole picture, and that could skew the results. Recent graduates, aware of the value of this survey, can collude with former classmates to raise a school's rating. It's no wonder that a laggard one year becomes a darling the next.
Recruiters are important, because they are picking tomorrow's leaders from this year's B-school crop. But they do not reflect the views of Corporate America. What's missing from this survey is the opinion of the line managers, corporate staff, and executives. The survey should reflect a broader cross section of businesspeople. BUSINESS WEEK should canvass older alumni and senior managers. I suspect that these people will present a more balanced viewpoint. I've been out of business school for five years, and my ideas about what makes a great school have evolved since that sunny day in June when I graduated.
I found it particularly interesting that you included lost wages as part of the total cost of attending business school. One point you failed to mention, however, was that the number of part-time B-school students is growing rapidly.
I am involved in a part-time MBA program at Our Lady of the Lake University of San Antonio, which caters to the student who works full-time. The company I work for has assured me that an MBA will widen my opportunities to advance. I find that the combination of work experience and an MBA is valued by employers.
HoustonReturn to top