While a majority of the world’s top performing firms have well-established Competitive Intelligence departments (it’s estimated that 90% of Fortune 500 companies use CI), there are many companies who have no formal structure in place, but who are eager to learn more about how to set up an in-house intelligence unit.

Indeed, as organizations look to increase their market position in an increasingly competitive and globalized marketplace, demand for expertise in Market and Competitive Intelligence has risen dramatically.

We asked a selection of experienced CI practitioners to respond with what they believe are the essential ingredients needed to create an effective and successful Competitive Intelligence department. Here’s the response from Suki Fuller, Strategic Intelligence Advisor and also a Senior Analyst with DC Analytics.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is tasked with setting up a Market or Competitive Intelligence function for their company?

Develop a robust implementation plan – make sure you know the objective of the department in regards to the strategy mission of the company, so the stakeholders treat your output as key. Provide constant feedback so the CI/MI department remains visible and relevant, also remember to design the plan for flexibility.

Listen, listen, listen, listen, listen, look and be aware of the whitespace – both internally (processes, etc) and externally (potential competitors, opportunities, and markets, etc).

Communicate across all divisions – make sure employees have a clear understanding of the CI/MI role. Set up an information network (internal wiki/ newsletter feedback) for employees to report anything which may be relevant. Give kudos to specific divisions/employees who provide relevant information, if allowable by company policy. As often stated, most intelligence information is gained from internal sources.

Network – make friends with at least one key person in every division. Gain an understanding into their tasks and how this may impact the overall company strategy. Build these relationships so information can be gained straight from the source and doesn’t have to travel through as many layers of the internal channels.

About Suki Fuller

Suki Fuller is a Strategic Intelligence Advisor and also a Senior Analyst with DC Analytics with more than seven years experience internationally. She has experience gained globally across all sectors of the intelligence profession from National Security and Law Enforcement to Competitive Intelligence. She has been an invited speaker to numerous international intelligence organisations: China Institutes of Competitive Intelligence (CICI), Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professional (SCIP); and International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE). Suki is a graduate of the elite Mercyhurst University Intelligence Studies Programme and served in the United States Army Reserves for twelve years.

If you wish to contribute to this series email me here orlaith.finnegan(at)digimind.com


  1. Hi Luis,

    I know it sounds like one of those neat soundbites that get peddled at CI conferences, but in fact I’ve seen and heard this figure cited often. I did some digging around and I believe it may have originated in an article that appeared in Fortune Magazine by Matthew Boyle titled “The Prying Game”. The figure has subsequently cropped up in other sources including Ben Gilad’s – Strategy without intelligence, intelligence without strategy’. You can download that here http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?issn=1751-637&volume=12&issue=1&articleid=1902154&show=html

    If anyone else can point to a definitive source I’d be interested in hearing about it, so please share.

  2. Good afternoon, can you share the source for the CI function being present in 90% of Fortune 500?

    Thank you in advance,
    LUis Madureira


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