Considering Competitive Intelligence? Consider SCIP

photo of sign with the words "info" and "strategy"
Published: Friday, April 7, 2017 by Kate M. Spaulding

Another one of the zillion ways that MLIS grads use their degree is in the field of competitive intelligence (CI). What is CI? I’m so glad you asked! Competitive intelligence is “the process of collecting and analyzing information about competitors’ strengths and weaknesses in a legal and ethical manner to enhance business decision-making” (source).

Here’s another way to think of it: If you’ve taken INFO 204 already, then you have completed a SWOT analysis (SWOT = strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). CI professionals often perform SWOT analyses on their employer’s competitors in order to help their company make good decisions and prosper. CI meshes well with skills LIS folks typically have, like research, analysis, and communication skills.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, I recommend you take a look at Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP), an international professional association. SCIP is a “global nonprofit membership community of business experts across industry, academia, and government who come together to build and share strategic intelligence, research decision-support tools, processes and analytics capabilities.” More practically, “SCIP provides education and networking opportunities for business professionals working in the rapidly growing field of competitive intelligence” (source).

For the second in my series about professional association conferences (AIIP was the first), I interviewed Lakshika Trikha, SCIP’s Program Manager. This year, SCIP’s annual conference is May 15-18 in Atlanta. It’s not too late to make plans! There are a ton of interesting sounding programs lined up, and students actually have the opportunity to get a free(!) conference pass. Interested? Check out SCIP’s volunteer page and apply! You would also have the opportunity to score all the expo hall swag you can carry, as Tracy Z. Maleeff reminded me.

With that inducement, I present my interview with Lakshika Trikha, SCIP’s program manager.

photo of Lakshika TrikhaWould any particular group of students especially benefit from attending? What do you see as the greatest benefits?
There are many potential benefits of attending a SCIP conference for students, but the most important one is the opportunity to learn from experienced practitioners from a range of industries. Our speaker roster includes executives that are experienced not only in their roles as intelligence professionals, but as communicators of best practices in their disciplines. Furthermore, many sessions are interactive in nature and include hands-on exercises which guarantee that you’ll learn new approaches to some problems.

Can you tell me a little bit about what to expect? I'm guessing that SCIP’s conference is smaller than some – how many people usually attend? What positives or negatives about the size do you see? 
The first 1.5 days of the conference are devoted to pre-event workshops. Once the conference kicks off, there is a mixture of keynotes and panels on the main stage. There are four different time slots for breakout sessions, where we have 10 to 12 breakout sessions taking place concurrently. While the overall attendance is about 550 to 600 people, we have a large number of breakout sessions that are classroom-style and range from 15 to 45 participants. Therefore, there are plenty of opportunities for learning and interacting both in a large, group setting, as well as in smaller, intimate settings.

Are there any programs, opportunities, etc. that focus on or benefit students in particular?
SCIP has a mentorship program that pairs members together for career development, and the SCIP University Certification program (which runs during the workshops) is specially designed for those still learning about intelligence. Some of our workshops and breakout sessions are also ‘101’ level sessions for those who are either new to or still learning the basics.

Finally, what are you most looking forward to this year?
SCIP is exploring new territory on some topics this year, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, neuroscience, and studying cognitive biases. We also have a special leadership track that focuses on “soft skills” to complement the more quantitative skills and methodologies that a lot of our sessions usually feature.

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