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Book Review: Competitive Intelligence by Dr. Jim Underwood

Competitive intelligence constitutes an indispensable element in corporate management and leadership. It is a practice of identifying, outlining, collecting, analyzing, and distributing information concerning products (goods and services), consumers (direct and indirect), competitors, society (individual and organized), ideas, concepts or data. Top-level management will utilize such information in reaching strategic decisions. Underwood (2002) presents this fascinating subject and offers the tools needed by executives in the decision-making processes.

In his book, Underwood (2002) enunciates a compressed strategic framework aimed at establishing and designing as well as preparing an organization for success. He enclosed the essentiality of competitive intelligence as he enthralled real-world examples ranging from the beginning of time to date. Notably, despite having been published thirteen years ago, Competitive Intelligence still holds relevance and merit for its audience.

First, Underwood (2002) contemplates data integrity, which, as he notes, is the practice of assembling valuable data, which should be performed ethically and rely on trustworthy sources. Significantly, the book highly regards data quality and ethics. Second, Underwood notes the need for organizational benchmarking as strategic business philosophy. Suggestively, when fact-finding, benchmarking is a vital tool for generating future prosperity through prospective insight. Third, continued organizational learning, as the book suggests, is the basis for establishing competitive intelligence. Besides, Underwood highlights the practical implementation of decisions made from intelligence analysis. Others are non-linear forecasting, trade secrets, and Internet researching.

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Competitive intelligence benefits from quality and ethical data from trustworthy sources. Such a source could be benchmarking, for example, the author adequately presents the examples of Apple Inc. amongst others. Markedly, Underwood notes how US-based organizations have continued to be disadvantaged when competing with foreign corporations as emanating from ineffective information analysis.

The author adopts the lucid writing style. Chapter after chapter, Underwood presents the merits of organizations to gather intelligence. He refers to excellent sources that he listed at the end of every chapter, some of which are his books. For instance, he refers to Schwartz (1991) when describing how an organization could draw from past experiences to prepare for its future. He also brought significant excerpts from Underwood (2001).

In conclusion, I opine that the author accomplished his thesis brilliantly. Underwood (2002) articulated the need for efficient information gathering for business start-ups, organizations venturing into new potential areas in the market/ industry, and/or when pursuing comparative advantage over competitors. It can be inferred that valuable information is not only useful when tackling competition but also on effective grappling of market share and consumer bases. Significantly, the information will also be vital for an organization pursuing to remain at the cutting edge of the industry. Finally, the book cultivates a diverse conception that, by tapping into unforeseen prospects, a corporation could generate unlimited future prosperity.

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