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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2002
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I learned of this book while reading the "Ask Annie" column in Fortune (Jan. 7, 2002). I've been in Marketing for 10 years and was looking forward to a good book on competitive intelligence gathering. This covers only the most basic of topics: the plan, do, check, act cycle; annual reports; 10-Qs; government permits; etc. If you don't have a clue where to start in CI you may find this book helpful. If you've done even cursory competitive intelligence gathering before you will not likely find anything new here.
I should have paid attention to the reviewer that said, "If this is the FIRST book you read on Competitive Intelligence - it is not that bad..." I'll add not only if this is the first book, but also your first exposure, otherwise skip it.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
After having listened to so-called gurus spout off about CI none of it made any sense until I heard Larry Kahaner speak at a recent SCIP conference. I bought his book which explains CI in a clear, no nonesense style and I was able to use his insights immediately at my company. If you know nothing about CI, this is the book to start with. If you 'think' you know everything about CI this is the book that will fill in all the blanks you 'thought' you understood. It's practical and down to earth.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have recently used this book as one of the major sources for my final project at University in Bristol. I was conducting the project for a well known company so my findings and prototype were to be implemented in the real world. As my literature review involved serious reading around the subject I got to know CI in depth. 99% of the major headings within my review were found within this book, and I found myself referring to it continuously even with many other sources at my disposal.
Interested in Competitive Intelligence ? Buy this book !
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
If this is the FIRST book you read on Competitive Intelligence - it is not that bad; It covers much ground at a fast pace. However, if you have read any of the other books out on CI (Fuld's CI Blue Monster, or even Michael Porter's On Competition) this book is rehashed material that is too elementary to gain any sort of knowledge to furtherer your CI knowledge base. I commend the authors for a good start - but was hoping for much more detail.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
This books explains in easy to understand language how CI works and how any company can do it. But Kahaner doesn't stop there. There's plenty of material for people who already know about CI, even those who practice CI on a regular basis. The case studies are excellent. I highly recommend it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a basic reference for CI. The author lays the groundwork for convincing the audience of the need for CI and how to establish and operate a program. Comparing it to the other, much higher priced books, this is the most bang for buck
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a basic treatment of the field that adds the journalistic element that has been lacking in many other treatments. That has its good and bad points. The good points is that it is likely to drum up interest in the field by those outside of it. The bad point is that it somewhat sensationalizes it for those of us who do it on a day to day basis. Nevetheless, it is a comprehensive overview of CI and provides for interesting anectdotes and stories to share to the general public. I just got this a few weeks ago and it is also now appearing a bit dated but that is understandable as it was likely written several years ago. Overall, a fairly interesting book that will be of some value to individuals who need to understand why CI might be a desirable career pursuit.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
Larry Kahaner has produced a book that touches almost all of the bases and provides a good primer to begin one's CI education. Part 1 held out the promise of a quality text but this standard fell somewhat in the middle stages of the book when he discussed the practicalities of the Intelligence Cycle. He finished strongly however and has produced a good base from which others can carry the CI 'flame' forward.
I liked the use of the case studies, which were relevant, topical and illuminated the points that Larry was trying to make. To my mind the coverage of both the Directive and Processing phases of the Intelligence Cycle were quite 'thin'. I felt that, as these two phases are the most difficult to establish, they needed further elaboration, and were a little 'underdone'.
More could have been said about establishing a focused and responsive Directive Phase with listed common negotiation points and a schematic of feedback loops and process designs between CI 'customers' and CI professionals.
Likewise the Processing Phase was fairly lightweight with only the hoary old SWOT analysis and a little on Pattern analysis and War-gaming given as typical analysis tools. Little was said about practical information and intelligence handling, logging, collation tools, or how to use the emerging range of analysis IT tools such as Netmap or Watson to name but a few.
The potential blind alley of 'Data Warehousing' and the operational use of Meta-data, database pruning policy, and a host of other key topics were missing from the book. At least Larry mentioned OPSEC, which I was heartened to see and for that I am willing to overlook some of the other weaknesses in the book.
I found the discussion of 'foreign' CI development well done as were the arguments justifying the corporate costs of CI. There was a little US flag waving towards the end of the book, however most non-Americans will forgive this I am sure.
In all a good basic beginning with which to establish one's CI education. Value for money and a book that I would recommend to any CI library.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2003
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Great read, and a very easy read. This book is more of an introduction to the philosophy of Competitive Intelligence than anything else. It provides a good conceptual overview.

The chief failing of the book is that the world has changed since it was written five years ago. It'd be interesting to see how an updated book would justify CI in a "down" economy, and how its importance has changed with the bursting of the dotcom bubble.

It's still a worthwhile read, but I would rather see a book that has been updated to current world and economic conditions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
Aside from being dated, the author attempts to cover too many subjects. The book not only surveys then-current resources for information, but also covers the intelligence cycle, how to start up a CI unit in a company, foreign CI, the future of CI, government's role in CI, how to benchmark internal performance...the list goes on. The result is a very thin book with little actionable information in it.

In addition, the author redefines CI several times, leading to confusion and a watered down message:

1) "a systemmatic program for gathering and analyzing information about your competitors...", spying on competitors for current advantage (pg 16)
2) "M&A due diligence" (pg 138). Here, the author defines CI as the normal due diligence process for mergers and acquisitions; no new insights provided and no "system" for information gathering.
3) "Benchmarking" (pg 143). Here the author defines CI as the function of establishing internal performance metrics for internal business processes and tracking your own performance over time. There is no focus on competitors or tracking their performance against the same metrics. This is not CI.

It is an easy read, but the book falls well short of the promises on the book cover and jacket:

-"From black ops to boardrooms..." The author has no experience in black ops and doesn't use any black ops people/resources/examples. Catchy title, but this is as much from "black ops" as it is from the "Dali Lama".

-"In this book, you will learn: how to profile your competitor's executives...how to use war-gaming, word pattern analysis, and even handwriting analysis..." No you won't. You will hear 3 sentence examples of how other companies have used these techniques. That is not teaching readers to do anything, just to be entertained by 3 sentence anecdotes.

Ultimately, this book falls well short of its promise. An easy read but I wouldn't buy it. Get it from your library instead. Limited value.
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