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Introducing Workforce Competitive Intelligence

A Question & Answer Overview

  1. What is "workforce competitive intelligence" (WCI)?
  2. What kinds of companies can benefit from WCI?
  3. Can WCI help smaller companies as well as large multinational corporations?
  4. How can WCI help us develop strategic responses to competitive HR practices?
  5. Can WCI develop intelligence about more than just our rivals' HR practices?
  6. Should a WCI program reside in a company's CI or HR function?
  7. Does WCI have anything to do with "corporate spying"?
  8. What can we do to be less vulnerable to our competitors' CI efforts?
  9. Can we use WCI to get more value out of all the money we spend sending our employees to conferences and trade shows?
  10. When does it make sense to hire a full-time WCI manager?

1. What is "workforce competitive intelligence" (WCI)?

WCI is an innovative set of tools that enhance traditional competitive intelligence efforts to help your company gain a sustainable edge over your rivals.

To understand WCI, let's start with competitive intelligence (CI) — the process of ethically gaining insights about your competitors' strategies, technologies, marketing plans, finances, corporate cultures and much more to help you make better strategic and tactical decisions. CI is a hot commodity in today's corporate world, especially among companies that place a premium on the knowledge possessed by their key people.

Workforce Competitive Intelligence™ augments traditional CI by tapping into a source of intelligence that has been largely overlooked and underutilized: the knowledge and insights about your rivals that your employees and HR-related networks already possess. But typically, nobody has asked them about their competitive insights before — at least not as part of a proactive, institutionalized and systematic program.

RivalScape can help you design and implement a WCI program that will not only unlock this treasure trove of information, but also analyze, disseminate and use this new wellspring of intelligence to give you a decisive advantage over your competition.

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2. What kinds of companies can benefit from WCI?

Most companies that utilize traditional CI can add substantial value to their intelligence efforts by developing a WCI program — for example, companies in industries such as:

- Pharmaceutical and biotech
- Professional services and management consulting
- Technology
- Financial services

Any company that values their intellectual and human capital would be well advised to explore the possibility of implementing a WCI program.

While it's a fact that most companies that could profit from WCI do not yet do so, it is also true that not every company is well suited for WCI. RivalScape will help you determine if you would benefit from a WCI program.

3. Can WCI help smaller companies as well as large multinational corporations?

Absolutely. Companies of all sizes that rely heavily on intellectual capital for their success should consider conducting WCI. The principal prerequisite is a passion to excel in your marketplace.

RivalScape can tailor and scale its services to fit any company that stands to gain competitive advantage by acquiring WCI skills.

4. How can WCI help us develop strategic responses to competitive HR practices?

You might be surprised how much knowledge you can readily access about the competitive HR landscape. Internal recruiters, external recruiting firms, compensation and benefits staff, and recent hires from competitors already hold invaluable information about competitive hiring activity and trends, employer branding, compensation and benefits packages, retention rates, workforce diversity, talent rosters – all aspects of your rivals’ human capital strategies, plans and activities. The key is developing an effective process for continually mining this information and putting it to good use.

RivalScape will help you create customized internal systems and procedures to routinely interview your workforce and HR networks; analyze, evaluate and organize this input; and create specific policies and plans to compete more successfully in the human capital marketplace.

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5. Can WCI develop intelligence about more than just our rivals’ HR practices?

Yes! Gaining critical information about your competitors’ HR activities and policies is a rich and essential vein to tap, but that’s only the beginning of WCI’s potential. Your workforce and HR networks, once WCI systems are in place, greatly enhance ongoing CI efforts to gain information across the full range of competitive threats and opportunities.

For example, RivalScape will help you set up an ongoing Competitor Alumni Program™ (CAP) with employees who previously worked for your competitors. A well planned and executed CAP will uncover critical, actionable intelligence about the entire competitive landscape, such as M&A and divestiture activities, technology trends, pending pricing moves and product releases by your rivals – virtually any competitive issue that keeps your executives awake at night.

6. Should a WCI program reside within a company’s CI or HR function?

Either possibility might be the better choice depending on factors such as the corporate culture and the nature and extent of existing CI activities.

RivalScape will help you make this important determination, and equally important, set up effective channels of communication and cooperation between CI, HR and senior management.

7. Does WCI have anything at all to do with “corporate spying”?

WCI is absolutely NOT about corporate spying. What it is about is the intelligent discovery and use of public but not necessarily published information about competitors and the competitive landscape.

RivalScape fully subscribes to the ethical guidelines of the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) and its founders are recognized leaders in industry efforts to ensure rigorous adherence to ethical business practices. We will show you how to make certain that your WCI program gains the intelligence you need without venturing into dubious territory.

8. What can we do to be less vulnerable to our competitors’ CI efforts?

There are a number of steps you can take to plug information leaks, design trade shows and promotional materials that are difficult to exploit, and generally help your employees and HR networks become more security conscious.

RivalScape will help you set up a Workforce Information Security Program (WISP) to “tighten up the ship” and help you protect your strategic assets.

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9. Can we use WCI to get more value out of all the money we spend sending our employees to conferences and trade shows?

Definitely! Conferences and trade shows present wonderful opportunities to collect competitive intelligence. Unfortunately, most companies send staff to these events without a focused plan to capitalize on the abundant intelligence opportunities, nor the training to do it properly.

RivalScape will review the events your staff attends and the intelligence collection opportunities that each presents. We’ll then work with you to develop focused objectives, train your HR staff in the concept of “conference quarterbacking,” evaluate results, and demonstrate the positive ROI of this budget item to senior management. We also train your staff in how to protect themselves from being the targets of collection from your competitors when they attend external events.

10. When does it make sense to hire a full-time WCI manager?

It’s time to think about hiring a dedicated WCI manager when the business case for the function has been established and an “executive champion” (perhaps a senior HR officer) has been identified. When executive management recognizes the benefit of launching formal WCI, the job has typically become too big for either the CI manager or an existing HR manager to handle.

It takes a unique skill set and personality to be a successful WCI manager. The person must know CI as well as HR and recruiting, which is rare combination to find. But it is by no means impossible, and a good candidate can be trained in areas where he or she may have gaps.

RivalScape will help you document the position requirements by writing a robust job description and goals for the WCI manager. Because of RivalScape’s expertise in both HR and CI, we can often identify internal talent with the right experience, personality and innate curiosity. Then we can help you decide whether to fill the position from within your existing workforce or recruit from the outside. If we recruit from the outside, we use our extensive networks in both CI and HR/recruiting plus time-tested assessment tools to help you find a winning candidate quickly and cost effectively.

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