Peer Reviewed Article
Vol.6(1) March 2004
Effectiveness of the Web as a competitive
University of Kwazulu-Natal
Department of Information Systems and Technology
What is competitive intelligence (CI)?
CI application areas
CI benefits and pitfalls
Measuring the effectiveness of CI
CI in South Africa
Recommendations and conclusions
Although there has always been an interest in the activities of competitors, competitive
intelligence (CI), as it is now practised, was formalized in the USA only in the 1970s and
1980s. A major step in the formalisation process was taken when the Society of Competitive
Intelligence Professionals was formed to create a forum within which a wholly ethical
intelligence-gathering process could be developed. This was essential if the business was to
break away from the inevitable, but unacceptable association with industrial espionage. The
transfer of techniques to Europe initially took place in the late 1980s and early 1990s but
really gathered momentum between 1995 and 1999 when a series of public conferences
promoted CI to wider audiences. CI is still in the formative stages of its evolution. The more
obvious techniques have been codified and described but new developments are constantly
being reported in the professional journals. The Internet has had a profound effect on CI, just
as it has on other areas of research.
2 What is competitive intelligence (CI)?
The Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals defines CI as 'the process of ethically
collecting, analysing and disseminating accurate, relevant, specific, timely, foresighted and
actionable intelligence regarding the implications of the business environment, competitors
and the organization itself'.
The concept of intelligence, as a process,...