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The importance of CI indicators and how to choose them

When facing the implementation of a Competitive Intelligence unit, Key Intelligence Topics, information sources, surveillance networks, etc. are always taken into account, but it is usual to forget about indicators. CI, like any other business, requires monitoring and control to determine the efficiency of the process, incurred costs, benefits, and the achievement of goals. In this article we highlight the crucial role of indicators in the implementation and consolidation of CI units and propose some guidelines for proper choice.

The importance of CI indicators and how to choose them

The 6th chapter of CEN/TS 16555-2:2014 standard says that “The coordinator should determine, collect and analyse appropriate data to demonstrate both the effectiveness and the efficiency of the strategic intelligence system, and to then assess where improvement can be made. […] Appropriate indicators are defined in consultation with all interested parties and should give rise to relevant, shared reporting during management reviews.” This results in the need to set monitoring indicators that reflect what is happening in the system.

The indicators can be classified into different types. These are the 3 most common classifications:

Quantitative: These refer directly to measurements in numbers or quantities.


Qualitative: They refer to qualities. These are aspects that are not quantified by numbers. They are often assessments, opinions or judgments about something.


Direct: They measure the fact directly.


Indirect: When you cannot measure directly the desired component, proxies or sets of related indicators are used to measure.


Positives: The higher the value, the more positive results.


Negatives: If your value increases are more negative.


Regarding the CI indicators, are usually aimed at measuring the following:

  • Objectives of the CI system: They measure the degree of compliance with the objectives sought with the CI activity (identified opportunities, detected threats, new activities or related businesses, etc.)
  • Project implementation: They measure the implementation of CI activity. Any other project similar indicators (deadlines, milestones, deliverables, etc.) are used.
  • Software: They measure the suitability of the chosen tool to the needs of the organization and justify the investment in (invested time, sent newsletters, detected interested news, etc.).
  • Systematic: Indicators related to everyday CI activity (number of monitored competitors, quantity and quality of information sources, etc.).
  • Analyst’s personal performance: They provide information about the work of analysts and the results (spent time, detected news, analyzed news, etc.).
  • ROI: Used to calibrate the investment compared to the benefits. A few months ago we wrote a post about the ROI of CI.

To measure the performance of the various aspects that make up the CI system, each indicator must be associated to a goal. When setting the goals for the indicators, whether the field may be, it is generally recommended to follow the SMART goals:

  • Specific: the objectives must be concrete.
  • Measurable: must be measurable with the available tools.
  • Attainable: have to be realistic and within the reach of the organization.
  • Relevant: should be objectives that impact the organization.
  • Timely: periodicity for measurement must be defined.

We hope that these guidelines will help you to define indicators of your CI project. If you are thinking of launching CI activity in your organization and you need help, contact us and we will help you. Also, you can try a free professional software like INNGUMA requesting a demo.