What Is the Difference between Business Intelligence and Competitive Intelligence?

S. Ejim

Business intelligence and competitive intelligence are slightly related but different factors. Both of them refer to the process by which an organization gathers information from various sources to enable it make informed strategic planning decisions. The difference between business intelligence and competitive intelligence is that business intelligence is focused on gathering internal information, and competitive intelligence is focused on gathering information relating to the external business environment.

The business intelligence process is focused on gathering internal information.
The business intelligence process is focused on gathering internal information.

Both business intelligence and competitive intelligence allow a company to plan effective business strategies that can help the company advance in a competitive marketplace. Competitive intelligence is a process of gathering information about things such as competitors, products and consumers in an ethical manner. The emphasis in competitive intelligence lies on the ethics of the process for gathering information. This is because any information that is gathered in an unethical manner is industrial espionage and not competitive intelligence.

Competitive intelligence can be divided into strategic and tactical intelligence. Strategic intelligence is used for making strategic planning decisions that are long-term. Tactical intelligence is used to make decisions that are more immediate. An example of long-term strategic intelligence includes information about external factors that might affect the longevity, productiveness and success of a company. Tactical intelligence refers to intelligence related to factors such as the type of products the competitors have, their pricing structures and marketing tactics.

The focus of business intelligence is on internal data that is collected, analyzed and presented in a structured form that makes it easy to understand the manner in which a business is operating. Just like competitive intelligence, the information gathered during the business intelligence is studied by the top managers of an organization and incorporated into the formulation of a strategic business plan. Business intelligence encompasses the utilization of technology to compile statistics derived from an analysis of a business’s system of operation.

The process of gathering business intelligence includes an analysis of the corporate culture and image as well as an analysis of the level of commitment of the members of the organization, from the top management level to the lowest employee. Information might be gathered through the preparation of questionnaires or other types of surveys. This is in addition to other types of statistical analysis of the business model. Some business intelligence software on the market has been developed to enable businesses to analyze the information that has been gathered during the business intelligence process to arrive at a conclusion.

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