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U for Unnoticed
The purpose of this post is to shed some light on a largely (if not completely) unnoticed contribution to competitive intelligence measurement literature. Corine Cohen, a professor in Marketing Management at International University of Monaco wrote in 2004 a book simply called “Veille et intelligence stratégiques” (“Competitive and Strategic Intelligence”), which deals with measuring the effectiveness of competitive intelligence.  This book and a subsequent article published in 2007 report on her multi-phased study of the question.

First, she developed a conceptual model based on an approach already adopted by Robert Reix for information systems management. This approach, adapted by Cohen to competitive intelligence, suggests evaluating the resources (operational measures and quality measures), the products and services offered (quality and satisfaction measures), the use of those products (satisfaction measures) and finally the outcomes (effectiveness, efficiency and impact measures).


Translated from Cohen 2007

Then, Cohen conducted a literature review and two case studies, to help her define evaluation criteria. After that she validated her indicators by interviewing experts of the field and elaborated two questionnaires. The first one aims to evaluate the operational aspects and the quality of human, technical and financial resources. It is meant to be completed by the CI manager. The second questionnaire is about satisfaction and outcome measures and should be completed by CI users. Regarding impact measurement, Cohen suggests to use a Balanced Scorecard “Intelligence-Performance” and align CI objectives on the organization’s strategic objectives.

Despite the completeness of Cohen’s study, its solid theoretical basis and its practical results, we couldn’t find any comment or even mention of this work in the literature we consulted so far.

F for French
Why? The only reason we could figure out is that both her 2004 book and her 2007 article were written in French and never translated into English. This explains why they didn’t get any attention among English-speaking authors. Of course they could have drawn attention of French-speaking authors, but CI measurement doesn’t seem to be a popular research theme in French CI literature. As a matter of fact, the rare pieces that cite Cohen’s work don’t deal with CI effectiveness or impact (this comment on Cohen’s article being the exception).

However, an English translation of Cohen’s book has been available since 2009 at Wiley with the title Business Intelligence: The Effectiveness of Strategic Intelligence and its Impact on the Performance of Organizations. Let’s hope English speaking researchers will consider this work in their future studies.

O for… Oh my god! It’s been tested!
Indeed, Cohen’s research is probably the most accomplished study that we have read on CI outcome and impact evaluation. Unlike many other measurement models (Davison, Kilmetz and Bridge), hers has even been tested in two large companies. Thus making Cohen’s work one of the few empirical studies in the field.

The measurement model she develops is probably not perfect and might not be fitted for every type of organizations. Its comprehensiveness (that is, the length of the two questionnaires) probably makes it difficult to implement and to run on a regular basis. Anyway, we think Cohen’s approach is quite insightful and we would be pleased to read some experts comment about it.

Aurélie Roulet, pour le projet « évaluation de l’efficacité et de l’impact de la veille »