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Section Contents

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 several major 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.

2. Another 20 percent of the CI units do some aspects of workforce competitive intelligence.

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 intelligence program.

3. The remaining 20 percent of the CI units are advanced in their application of workforce competitive intelligence practices.

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 topics.

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.

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