Competitive intelligence technique:

Competitive intelligence is the process of enhancing marketplace competitiveness through a greater, yet legal and ethical, understanding of a firm's competitors and the competitive environment by analyzing rivals' moves. Competitive intelligence allows companies to anticipate market developments rather than merely react to them. One of the most obvious features of Internet, especially when used with major search engines, is its ability to reveal large quantities of non-standardized information. To avoid information overload it is necessary to focus on specific sites, companies, products etc. This is not difficult in CI, where much information gathering is done by company or product name. Evaluating data is a further problem. Many of the clues which librarians have traditionally used to identify quality information, such as affiliation of the author, reputation of the publisher or journal, are absent from Internet.

Each specific item must be evaluated from the point of view of the context where it was found, and also in relation to other information on the same subject, either from Internet or from a database, periodical etc. Information from a source generally considered of good quality, which coincides with what is learnt from other sources, can be considered accurate. Final verification depends on somebody going out into the field and confirming the information via observation or personal contact.

How to acquire information step by step:

Ask questions: If you come across or are offered competitive information and believe that it may be confidential or proprietary ask questions to find out how the information was obtained, or why it was made available.

Be ethical: How would you or your business react if you found out that your competitors were receiving the kind of information that you acquired?

Breaking the law has consequences: Breaking the law can also result in adverse publicity to your company. Think about how you'd feel if your actions were publicly disclosed on the front page of a newspaper.

Regardless of what method you use to collect competitive intelligence, if you have any question as to the legality of your activity, err on the side of caution and chose another method!