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How can the Competitors Foil Your Competitive Intelligence Program?

Gathering competitor intelligence can help you better understand what they are doing, and as a result, take advantage of any weaknesses they have, etc. However, it is possible for a competitor to feed you incorrect information or skew the information you get so that your plans are foiled, and your competitive intelligence program is ruined.

Usually if you are collecting information about a competitor, they are going to be aware of it, and will often make efforts to thwart your CIP (competitive intelligence program).They may intentionally mislead your organization or produce disinformation in order to lead you astray. They may even send in some one of their own to collect information about you.

Planting data or creating false data in order to throw off the competition is not uncommon. Thus, most intelligence gathered requires some form of confirmation. Of course this brings up yet another way that competitors can foil your plans, they may create what is called a false confirmation, this is done by releasing similar, but misleading information, or information that is incomplete, to a different media source, or several sources. This often leads to not being able to know whether the information or intelligence you collected is real and accurate. Check your sources, determine how valuable the information you collect is based on the source you use. For example, reports that are required to be filed by law for shareholders are more trustworthy than a statement an executive makes to a member of the press, where they may exaggerate their position for good publicity.

There are many ways to collect information on your competition, and one ploy is to get it straight from an employee at the competition. This is usually done by posing as a journalist and doing an interview, pretending to be a recruiter or potential employer, or pretending to seek a job, or through befriending or seducing someone who works for the competition, or even going in and pretending to be a customer. Another is to seek information from the affiliates of the competition, such as going straight to distributors or suppliers for information. If your competitor catches on, or is aware that you are not who and what you say you are, this tactic can be flipped on you, and you may be the one who is manipulated and fed disinformation. They may post fake job announcements with incorrect job requirements. They may mislead you in understanding the company organization, duties, and responsibilities.

As you can see, competitive intelligence programs can be foiled, infiltrated, mislead, and more. In order to conduct proper competitive intelligence gathering, one must verify information, use trusted sources, and look for ways of gathering information that isn't as easy to manipulate. Often using a web intelligence tool is helpful, and doing your own recon is also wise as you can get a sense for when the information you gather is valid, and when it might be manipulated.

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