Communicating Competitive Intelligence and the bloody big ship and how to present your findings


Communicating Competitive Intelligence and the bloody big ship and how to present your findings

You know there’s more to Competitive Intelligence than SWOT competitor analysis? Or battle cards and collecting tons of data? And most importantly, analysts must present their findings in the best way possible. This is called Communicating Competitive Intelligence and the bloody big ship and how to present your findings. The insight you have worked hard to find.

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Everyone is different

Each Intelligence end user may need a different message. Some may prefer the details of how we came to find that piece of insight and the perceptions and thinking behind every option.

But every audience will expect you to have a point of view and an opinion on the situation and the data you have used. And everything you claim must be backed up with verified data.

What do they want to know?

Some decision-makers want to know, see and study every piece of data. But others wish to know the just answers to the questions set. This is the answer, why it’s the answer and what they can do about it. Yes, there are the details to dig into if they so wish. And many will. But some just want the answer so they can respond to the situation. In reality, the need is usually a bit in between.

In the military, a commander in the field wants to know where the enemy is and its strengths. So they can decide how to remove the risk from the battlespace.

Now, knowing the enemy’s mechanised fighting capabilities is essential. But if they’re about to attack them, a PowerPoint about a new type of track coupling won’t be welcome.

But, back at the military intelligence unit, the tank analysts would love you. They will want to know everything.

Exhaust ports

So the impact of the insight is dependent on the audience. Remember the classic Tom Clancy book and film The Hunt For The Red October? Jack Ryan had a picture of new exhaust ports on the latest Soviet submarine. They looked like exhaust ports. But a specialist analyst suggested they could be part of a propulsion method. Very interesting and technical. This is where the Intelligence analyst earns their corn. Yes, it’s a bit of new kit, but what does the new propulsion method mean to the team in the field? The US sub captains. They assessed that the Soviet boat could be undetected by US sonar. A clear and present danger (sorry!) required decision-makers to know immediately. The book was based on a true story too.

You don’t need the tiny details.

Again, the decision maker doesn’t need to know the tiny details of the new system. They just needed to know that a soviet submarine could have a new piece of kit that could allow them to be silent. So they will have to be extra vigilant and keep an eye on their rearview mirror.

What should a presentation look like?

So, getting your message across to the right audience is essential. Because the insight you provide must be useable to them, and the message must match their needs, expectations and current situation.

Once you have decided what audience the insight is for, you should give it some thought on how to present it.

10–20–30 rule

Guy Kawasaki’s 10–20–30 rule is a great place to start. The rule allows for presentations to have no more than ten slides. And the presentation should not last any longer than 20 minutes. The text shouldn’t be less than 30-point font. Also, ensure you have edited the presentation as much as you can. Absolutely no fluff.

Back to the military. For speed of response, they will have prearranged action when isolating particular insights. In this case, the presentation could be one or two lines or less.

What decisions?

From the start, you really should be party to the decisions those in charge want to make. By not knowing what decisions you will impact, collecting Intelligence will be a struggle. Any presentation should show the required decisions at the beginning of the report.

Show the gaps

Don’t try and hide gaps or gloss over uncertainty. No one will ever get 100% of the questions answered. The world is full of uncertainty; sometimes, the answers are not out there. So again, upfront, tell the audience what uncertainty remains. Tell them what you have answered from the insight found.

What do you think?

We all have inherent biases. You do, we have and so do decision-makers. It’s important to offer your thoughts on how strong the insight is. How certain you are in the Intelligence. And what your thoughts are on the actual insight and the decisions to be made. Decision makers should want to hear your opinion. If they don’t, you’re working with the wrong decision-makers.


Within the presentation, suggest possible ways forward and what decisions they could make.

Don’t bury the key findings within the content; tell them what you should do next. Put the decisions to be made and options up front.

Communicating Competitive Intelligence and the bloody big ship

In conclusion, you know there’s more to Competitive Intelligence than swot competitor analysis. battlecards and collecting tons of data. But Competitive Intelligence is all about getting a decision-maker the insight. So they can make a decision. It’s not an opportunity to make the presenter look clever and show how good they are. It’s finding the insight, delivering it with options and letting them decide what to do.



Octopus Competitive Intelligence consulting agency

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