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.

Bob Lee

Phoenix

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.

Tracey Scott

President, Society of Competitive

Intelligence Professionals

Alexandria, Va.

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.

Shashank Upadhye

Chicago

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