The development of competitive intelligence (CI) in South Africa with special reference to the CI practices in a pharmaceutical company
Competitive intelligence (CI) is one of the fastest growing fields in the business world South Africa included; yet little quantitative research has been conducted or published on the development and use of CI in South Africa. CI is concerned with the methods companies use to monitor their competitors, their own competitive position, and to improve their competitiveness. It is not a new business activity but modern CI is more focused, formal, organised and actionable. CI is not an activity limited to a few countries or companies in certain industries; it is a worldwide phenomenon. Most of the Fortune 500 companies use CI extensively. Literature shows some countries such as France, Japan, Sweden and the USA to be more advanced in their embracement of CI as a means to enhance competitiveness. In these countries, CI is a recognised business discipline and has become a major source to achieve competitive advantage. They are also developed in terms of the role government plays in supporting CI activities. Another indicator of CI as a growing practice worldwide is the development of the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP). Globally, SCIP chapters have taken root in all continents. Moreover, SCIP Europe, SCIP Italia, SCIP Australia and SClP Deutschland are part of a growing worldwide network of SCIP affiliates, i.e. independent organisations that have formally affiliated with SCIP. Leaders in the field of CI training are France, Japan, Israel, Sweden, and Korea while Europe is beginning to appreciate the importance of CI as a corporate tool. Some practitioners suggest that in the near future, all MBA programmes in Europe will include CI as a core subject and that the investment community will be looking at companies' track records in terms of their CI practices (Blagg, 2002). In comparison, CI in South Africa is still in its infancy (Muller, 1999). However, with South Africa's competitive landscape being reshaped, the need for CI as a means to enhance competitiveness has grown rapidly. Research into CI in South Africa has been limited. The first comprehensive research projects were launched in the beginning of the century. Very few companies then knew about CI, let alone practice it. But that did not mean that companies did not monitor competitors and other external events. There was just no formalised structured approach in assessing their environment. Since then, a team of researchers came together to find an answer to the question: What is the level of development and deployment of CI in South Africa? The findings of the research indicated a realisation among South African companies that they will have to take pro-active steps based on available information in order to survive. An assessment of current programmes in CI at South African learning institutions revealed a lack of formal academic programmes. Current programmes are mainly limited to short courses in basic CI principles. At present there are no CI courses presented at secondary schools in South Africa, and although some progress has been made in the development of courses, much still needs to be done. Programmes should also be presented at business schools at MBA level or at least as part of management and leadership training. A detailed description of the development of CI in South Africa in the areas of research, consulting and training is provided in Chapter 2. To illustrate the CI practice in a company, a case study is discussed in Chapter 3 to examine and analyse the development of the CI capability in one of the most prominent pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical industry provides an appropriate example of an industry that undergoes constant and rapid change. Various areas of CI still need to be researched including CI in the academy as well as further studies on how companies in South Africa conduct CI. This study aims to add to the growing database of research into CI in South Africa. For the first research article (chapter 2) two research methods were used i.e. a literature study into CI as a business discipline and a qualitative design (interviews) to obtain information from leaders in CI in South Africa. Given that CI is still in its infancy, the sample was small and included all recognised knowledgeable people on Clin South Africa. For the second research article (chapter 3) the same two research methods were applied. Both a qualitative design (interviews) and a questionnaire were used for the collection of primary information on the targeted company. The interviews were conducted with the CI manager in the company that was targeted for the case study. The sensitive nature of CI meant that permission for the publication of the case study had to be obtained provided a disguised name was used.
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