Friday, June 26, 2009

CI in innovation

Today I attended an "ideation" session sponsored by BioStart and led by John Fox of John Fox Marketing here in Cincy. BioStart is a local incubator funded largely by state funds. Most attendees came from local bioscience space (drugs, devices, diagnostics, biofuels, etc.).

But, it left me wondering whether organizations of all kinds are using CI enough in the innovation space. Innovation in so many industries has stalled and knowledge is doubling at shorter and shorter intervals. The deluge of websites, social media, subscription services, consultant niches is overwhelming. But this is our world many ways...finding/filtering within this onslaught.

Our knowledge within specific markets and industry of mega trends, external influencers, new technologies, unmet customer and consumer needs, and comprehensive sources of information across functions/boundaries gives CI professionals perhaps a unique role. Scientists know narrow bands of journals, IP, network, scientific meetings and networks often in related or adjacent scientific disciplines. But often we can also provide financial perspective, marketing perspective, competitive perspective, case studies, search tools, etc. to help guide the thinking of technical innovators. While this is especially true in the entrepreneur space, it is also true in my experience in big time R&D groups. Some things I think we need to encourage more of and do more of as CI professionals are to:

1) In an intentional way draw more innovators through relevant 3C assignments where they learn more about consumer, customer and competitive issues. CI professional often work along the entire value chain, whereas many other functions are localized along it. CI can help lead the charge in this space.

2) Encourage your innovators to hang with small entrepeneurs in potentially related technology clusters to better understand, experience and be stimulated by their resourcefulness and the (un)structure of local/national resources available to them. Volunteer at the local incubator. Teach a graduate class. Join presentations at the local VC or angel investor events. If you are in healthcare, hang around other parts of healthcare or witness delivery in a different culture or country. CI can lead the way to finding diverse models.

3) Greater use of ideation approaches to bring multi-disciplinary thinking together at the same time to bring full left and right brain input together. Within this make sure you invite vendors, consultants, agencies, former competitor employees, etc. to make it comprehenisve and keep it real. Also invite proven innovators who have no knowledge of your industry. CI folks can help find those. CI can lead some of these sessions in the same way we often lead scenario planning.

4) Hang out a research institutes and grad schools that are intentionally teaching in a more multidisciplinary fashion (bus+engineering+fine arts) to get the whole brain engaged.

5) Develop and deliver more mega information filters to simplify staying current and leading technologies, website trackers, new social media search engines, etc.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

New proven provider of Competitive & Business Intel in Cincy area

(with apologies for blatant commercialism but I have bills to pay too:-)

Cincy/NKY Competitive & Business Intelligence Service - NTEL4u/Stan Dyck

Dear LinkedinCincinnati-

I am a competitive & business intel researcher, strategist and thinker/integrator, a recent alumni of P&G where I worked in this area for 20+ years.

I am now focused on helping local (w/i ~100 miles) businesses and organizations through my company NTEL4u. All work is done in a highly ethical/legal fashion consistent with SCIP guidelines plus additional guidelines we can discuss.

Please see my profile on Linkedin or contact me. I am well acquainted with the local small business and not for profit environment through volunteer work. Address for my new blog also appears below.

My work generally enhances strategic or tactical choices in R&D, marketing, bus development, due diligence, fund raising, etc. across industries and organizations. I have worked on 25 businesses (consumer goods, biopharma) in the US and Canada and also beyond. I'd be happy to serve you.

I'm committed to making sure that once I have served you, you (and your organization) are enabled to do much more for yourself.

I look forward to hearing from many of you...or refer me on please.

Best regards,

Stan Dyck

513.235.0262 mobile
513.785.0680 fax

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Reaction to yesterday's post is causing me to rethink. While I still hold to what I said yesterday, there was an important missing piece. That is that many of us who can and are able should be also volunteering at our local libraries to assist a range of folks researching many topics, especially ones we are most familiar with (business, technology, media, etc.). The full value of the bricks & mortar institution in our communities can only be realized in the interim but sharing our skills in teaching & helping others to use information effectively. I think I need to check that out.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Out with the library

Before I left P&G it seemed the "library" and the organization running it changed names at least every two years in an effort to find their role and rebrand themselves. It seemed to me as long ago as 15 years ago that they were an organization in search of a problem to solve. Today I read about Governor Strickland in Ohio cutting funds for Ohio public libraries by 50%. While I readily acknowlege that today libraries provide community benefits far beyond their collections (access to computers, social hangout, literacy programs, quiet place to study), I just wanted to reflect on the impact of this to research needs of small business.

In the Cincinnati area where I reside, there are some outstanding opportunities by the public library system to partner with a host of organizations trying to help people create new businesses. This remains important because people don't know what they don't know and can know (for free). Appears to me that much of this will become quickly more virtual in the current funding deficit environment. There will still be smaller brick and mortar libraries but they will perhaps be nothing more than a couple of staff and many work stations plugged into ever better software which allows citizens across Ohio to self-serve. Ohio's library (the US') will become a virtual collection. The other functions of the library in the community will come from someplace else.

Chambers of Commerce, SBDC, SCORE, ESC, Urban League and others beware. Perhaps rather than lobby the State House for more funds, it will be better to help envision and craft the future of this entity and probably to better equip your own members, counselors, volunteers to be more capable in Do It Yourself business intel.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Imagine your way to CI

Early on in my CI work, a very sage person simply said map out where your information is and that is where competition's is. This was NOT a CI professional. It's often that simple. Today an article in the WSJ I think amplifies that by explaining latest learnings for neuroscience. We are beginning to understand how letting our minds wander links to problem solving. Sometimes we overcomplicate CI...too many left brained people doing too much analysis.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You can do better CI & counterintel by studying theirs

Not coincidence. Learn from it. Protect yourself: At a major scientific congress, our presentation of sensitive new data is suddenly interrupted by a fire alarm. Materials are left behind. At a major off-site sales meeting kicking off a highly confidential major product category initiative "visitors" and unidentified callers show up esp. at hospitality events. Competitor rep's kid on volleyball team of one of my reps and parent suddenly shows up at games at a sensitive time in sales cycle to chat. Two execs involved on same project and traveling same airline route discover in conversation they have sat beside the same person and answered the same questions. That person's spouse books travel. Am suddenly made aware by colleagues all around the world that someone claiming to be x is calling us and business partners globally to ask about timing of y. Reception log-in at supplier reveals competitors follows our visits with amazing regularity. At construction site one of several vehicles shows up somewhere on public perimeter regularly while building is still ripped open. Competitor hiring as coop student who worked closely with you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Future of CI

I have watched CI evolve for about 20 years. My crystal ball has many cracks in it, but here is what I see coming:

1) Specialist CI folks will continue to disappear. They will likely be replaced by multi-functional groups, networks which bring an entire organizations elements/members/their suppliers/customers to all focus in niches of understanding CI closely related to their own areas of expertise (innovation, PR/marketing, financial modeling/tracking, etc.). CI will be much more presumed, foundational and ongoing to everything the enterprise does. CI will be one training module or experience more employees/1099's will have earlier in their careers and maybe integrated within shared frameworks and tools needed to also understand customers, consumers and the external environment beyond competition. This will be built on organizational/industry best practices known at the time. Powerful aggregators and arrangers of data are also acclerating the elimination of many task done more manually by CI practitioners in the past (e.g. in Pharma)

2) It will be more important to know WHAT IS HAPPENING vs. WHAT MAY or WILL HAPPEN. There will likely be less time for foresight. CI problem solving will increasingly rely on large personal networks. In the pre Web era, information was always already obsolete once written down. With so many more democratic tools for sharing information/knowledge/opinion, this means instant communication and requires anyone making pretenses at being a CI professional to have the best networks and ways to monitor them and mange the six degrees of separation etc. People will always know before pubs/media of any kind. Now you can stay connected to them more easily.

3) Counterintel will have a much bigger challenge in corraling the loose lips, tweets, etc. in a faster moving world where people are also constantly changing jobs and alliances and in a world where anyone can talk to anyone - and does.


Stan Dyck

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Discovering when is a company shutting down or moving

Sounds like some of you did not really believe my last post.

Once upon a time, I was carefully studying the prospects of a competitor shutting down their key manufacturing facility in a major city. I had been by it many times to get the "lay of the land". There were many clues: the facility was old, land-locked, surrounded by a residential neighborhood, had a track record of environmental problems (published reports, gov't environmental reports, colleagues who lived nearby). It was also helpful that mutual suppliers, agencies, and clients and people who know people who know people seemed to think so too and had bits and pieces of information. Some local newspaper reporters had interest and dug around at it (with some provocation I helped with) and engaged their senior managers in some discussions (denials of course). We had analyzed their financials across multiple product lines in multiple countries and it seemed quite clear that it would be favorable for them to move given lower labor rates, proximity to suppliers, non-union work rules and newer/excess capacity, lower distribution expense, etc. Our field sales force and theirs swapped stories sometimes when they ran into each other and this helped confirm it as well. I concluded it was real and published a report to my organization on this "fact" and its implications. Not too long after I received a call from the President of my firm who had received a call from the President of the firm I was analyzing asking "what's going on". The competitor President had in front of him a copy of my report which one of our Sales reps had somehow gotten and shared. It was one of those conversations where my President essentially said he really wanted to keep this lower profile but was sure glad I'd done it. The competitor did shut down and move its operations.

I think all of the same skills could have been applied by Ohio, Dayton, Montgomery country officials on some coordinated basis. NCR competitors (some in Ohio!). knew I'm pretty sure. Customers of ATM equipment knew. Suppliers of components knew. Advisors and their firms knew. Realtors knew. Many people suspected. Third parties involved in doing analysis for NCR knew and their methodologies at least are known. The world is increasingly small in the social media world (six degrees of separation, etc.). It's unfathomable to me that one could not have known this likely outcome. Lot's of officials and people close to them in Duluth and Columbus, GA knew. Travel schedules of key officials from NCR are trackable. Some Wall Street analysts and their networks were likely expecting this. And so on....

I'm not sure outcome would have been different, but I doubt this should have been a surprise.


Stan Dyck

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Competitive intelligence in support of state level or regional bus dev

According to the Cincinnati Business Courier, Ohio and Dayton area officials are surprised and disappointed by announcement in the past few hours of a major job loss to the state of Georgia...NCR is shutting down most of its operations in Dayton: See

It appears that there were mounting concerns about this coming about going back several years but still these officials are now surprised:"Local concerns about NCR's shrinking Dayton presence have grown since 2006, when NCR's board allowed Nuti to continue living in New York, and December 2007, when the company announced plans to open executive offices in Manhattans World Trade Center. An expansion in Georgia announced last October only intensified concerns."

I have to wonder whether they really needed to be surprised. If it were a company worried about another competitor, good CI would likely have given early warning. Why not here in "competition" between states. All the same techniques, principles, practices apply.


Stan Dyck
Managing Director
see my Linkedin Profile