A Well Largely Untapped
A Survey of CI Practices at 20 "Best
of Breed" Companies
In February and March 2004, RivalScape Intelligence
Consultants conducted confidential telephone interviews with the
CI staff at twenty "best of breed" companies in the
area of integrated talent management. These companies — the
foremost practitioners of strategic HR — were identified
by our colleague
Lynne Morton, an authority
on the subject of integrated talent management. Morton has completed
studies on the topic for The Conference Board.
The scope of our
telephone interviews was limited to two areas of inquiry:
- Did the CI unit have any working connection
whatsoever, whether formal or informal, with the HR or human
capital function in their company?
- If so, what was the nature
of the connection and how sophisticated was the working arrangement?
Findings & Comments
1. 60 percent of the
CI units in these best-of-breed firms have no connection whatsoever
with the HR or human capital function.
This is a remarkable
finding considering that we were surveying many of the largest
and best-known companies in the world. How much valuable information
and insight about the competitive landscape are these companies
missing as a result of this unfortunate siloing? The first
step toward reaping the mutual benefits of CI-HR collaboration
might be as simple as the CI director and the HR director sitting
down and sharing some ideas. If senior management wants to participate
and brainstorm in such a meeting, so much the better.
20 percent of the CI units do some aspects of workforce competitive
These connections were limited in nature and
usually restricted to ad hoc projects where the two functions
occasionally intersect based on a mutual subject at hand. These
companies could greatly multiply the benefits they receive by
building a more systematic and widespread workforce competitive
3. The remaining 20 percent of the CI units
are advanced in their application of workforce competitive
In one of these four companies, the CI
and HR personnel study their competitors and compare notes
on a frequent basis. In another, the company has established
formal intelligence activities within the HR function, staffed
by credentialed HR professionals who are being trained in CI
matters. In still another, the CI unit in conjunction with HR
conducts comprehensive interviewing programs of newly hired employees
from competitor firms. The team tape records the interviews with
permission, transcribes them, and finally enters the transcriptions
into keyword-searchable databases for analytical exploitation.
Two of these advanced firms even do post-interview focus group
sessions to validate comments and drill down deeper on key competitor
This latter group of firms, just a fifth of
the elite group of 20, have discovered the value of gathering
actionable intelligence from their workforce. And we expect they
will all find out over time that there are yet many more ways
to extend workforce competitive
intelligence activities and their rewards.