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DIE DENKFABRIK GmbH: Testimonials


“A CI professional is a modern-day version of Sherlock Holmes”, says Michaeli.

“Every CI professional should only initiate activities that he would back if they were published in a newspaper tomorrow” is how Rainer Michaeli, Director of the Institute for Competitive Intelligence, summarizes this code of honor.
The Institute trains market analysts to become CI professionals. The Institute’s reference list features company names such as Luft­hansa, Deutsche Bank, Siemens, SAP and Schering.

“Whoever says that competitors are enemies is talking nonsense; he is only seeing things that make him feel scared and that usually are not real. What we really need to look at is the factual analysis. We want to transfer a feeling into an intelligent attitude: What can I learn from the competitor, what is it doing that I cannot do and above all, what can I do that it can’t do? Once you consider your competitors without emotion, you become a competitor analyst and the advantages are huge.”

“CI experts do not just collect information and forward it on, instead they interpret the overall picture. They develop hypotheses and assess risks; they act as an early warning system. They should have the backbone to be able to convey bad news. ”
Rainer Michaeli, CI consultant and university lecturer stresses “It’s not a simple profession.”

Michaeli is considered the Nestor of the CI discipline in Germany. As one of the few non-US leading experts he served temporarily on the SCIP board. He also published the first German text book on this subject. For Michaeli, competitive intelligence is part of strategic business development. “It is all about conducting research legally and using publicly available sources,” he said.

CI includes disciplines such as psychology, which tests weak information and hypotheses, as Rainer Michaeli, CI guru and MD of the consulting company DIE DENKFABRIK in Butzbach, explains. CI is like a process based on circumstantial evidence: “I develop a case, build assumptions and draw my conclusions.”

Therefore there are “two sides to success”: knowledge of the customers' needs and deep insights into the competitive environment. In the case of the latter, the CI professional uses systematic information gathering to gain insights into all the competitors on the market and companies that could potentially be competitors in the future as well as the activities that they carry out. According to Rainer Michaeli of Butzbach and author of “Competitive Intelligence”, a decisive success factor is the need to obtain this information as early on as possible.

A prerequisite for observing competitors, explains Rainer Michaeli, is to allocate a CI budget and assign the associated tasks and responsibilities to competent employees. Careful planning is also key. To prevent research from getting out of hand, it is important that all the questions that are to be asked are formulated as precisely as possible.

Manufacturers disassemble their competitors' products into individual components and create engineering drawings of them. “This is part of learning how other companies do it and finding out about the quality of the individual components,” says Rainer Michaeli, expert in competitor observation and author of the text book “Competitive Intelligence”.
“It also involves benchmarking. It is important to know: how good we are and what our selling points are.”

“By analyzing competitor products a company will often come up with crucial ideas for redeveloping its own products,” says Michaeli. “Reverse engineering speeds up the development process because you can learn from your competitors' strategies. It forms the foundations for research and development.”

“German companies, however, still have a long way to go in terms of the professional observation of competitors. For example, only half the companies make contact with their competitors and carry out targeted analyses of their publications and new patents.”

“In his introduction, Rainer Michaeli, Managing Director of ‘DIE DENKFABRIK’, former SCIP board member, co-founder of DCIF and one of the few veterans in the German CI business, refers to the current status of the discipline. The level of professionalism is determined based upon whereabouts in the development cycle a company's CI-activities are.”