Posts Tagged 'ethics'

Competitive Intelligence & privacy

In our blogs, Jeroen and I talked about ethical intelligence gathering. We’ve discussed this topic from the organization point of view. I recently came across a news item which made me think about another point of view: the perspective of the one(s) the intelligence is gathered about.

The difference between the CIA and ethical intelligence gathering

It has been a while since I read an article as stunning as this one – ‘James Bond’ Tactics Help Companies Spy on Each Other. The article is about a former CIA agent who is now some sort of private investigator who gathers intelligence on companies for his customers – mostly a direct competitor to the company he spies on. The nature of his way of working is so strikingly blunt and inappopriate that I’m not even sure whether this article should amuse me or have me deeply worried. I’ll try to explain in below post what exactly it is that startled me and then I’d encourage you to comment on how you feel about this.

Competitive Intelligence – Think Big, Start Small (II)

In the previous post we investigated whether or not I should consider practitioning Competitive Intelligence in my restaurant ‘Chez Jérôme’. We designed a partial action plan based on my strategic goals and based upon that, I decided that it was most definitely useful to invest some time and effort (and scarce means) in CI. In this post I will focus on the next steps, now that we decided to go through with our Competitive Intelligence ventures. I will also address some tools that you can use to support your process, which are by the way not Competitive Intelligence tools because that is too big an investment for the size of my restaurant (see my post “The Synergy between Competitive Intelligence and Social Media” for my definition of competitive intelligence tools).

Article: Are you gathering competitive intelligence ethically?

As I suggested in my previous post (Article: Misrepresentation in CI: An Ethical Analysis) ethics in CI is a difficult subject. It is difficult to know where to draw the line between what can be tolerated and what absolutely cannot. Drawing this line is something each CI practitioner should do for him- or herself. Although this may be true, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any guidelines. In my previous post I discussed an article from Julia Evans, where I outlined several positions concerning these guidelines. In this follow-up post about ethics and CI I would like to discuss the perspective of Devin Liddell as outlined in his article: “Are you gathering competitive intelligence ethically?”.

Article: Misrepresentation in CI: An Ethical Analysis

Compass of IntegrityWhen practitioning Competitive Intelligence, you always balance on the line between what information is available, and what information isn’t, but can be made available. In the latter situation the question is at what price this information can be obtained. Does it involve a visit to the competitor’s showroom while portraying oneself as a customer? Or making employees of your competitor believe they are participating in a market research project while you’re collecting interesting information for your own benefit? When thinking about these situations, questions about ethics come forward. According to Julia Evans, the writer of the interesting paper ‘Misrepresentation in CI: An Ethical Analysis’, the most common ethical questions in CI concern misrepresentation:

Misrepresentation occurs whenever a CI practitioner lies or misleads a competitor about their identity in order to gain access to information.