Competitive Intelligence

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What is competitive intelligence?

'Competitive intelligence is the process of discovering, analyzing and using intelligence from publicly available, non-proprietary information sources for the purpose of becoming more competitive.'  Industry Canada

'Competitive intelligence, or CI, refers to the legal and ethical collection, analysis, and dissemination of information about a business environment, industry competitors, or specific organizations.' University of Texas Engineering Library

See also

Library resources

In Voyager, the library catalogue, the subject heading for books on competitive intelligence is business intelligence. Use the Guided keyword search to find books and book chapters specifically on competitive intelligence [type in competitive intelligence as a phrase]


Business intelligence journal - Seattle
Business intelligence journal - UK journal, open access
Competitive intelligence review - journal of the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals. Available online 1990-2001


Selected articles

Research strategies : Systematic, gathering, analysing


  • Identify topics you need information on eg suppliers, trends, communication strategies, customers, competitors.
  • List the information resources to search through: books, databases for journal and newspaper articles, working paper sites, internet search engines.
  • When searching databases we recommend you search a number of them, not just the big 2 of ABI and BSP. 
  • See the Business Information Skills Tutorial for a refresher
  • See also the Information literacy pages


  • Look at a company's website
    Use a Search box to look for 'hidden' resources eg type in .ppt or .pdf
    See who else links to the company website [eg use Google advanced search 'Find pages that link to the page
  • Look at a competitors' websites
  • See the company information guides
  • See the industry guides
  • NOTE : There is no one place to look for information. Some likely places to look include
    • company websites
    • annual report - if available
    • press releases and newspaper articles
    • trade journals
    • social media sites
    • patents and trademarks

Analytical methods
The three most useful analytical tools and their effectiveness are: 

  • Competitor profiles 
  • Financial analysis 
  • SWOT analysis

Useful tip: Use the Business Search Interface connect button on the Business Source Premier page. Use the Advanced search and click on the SWOT analyses link on the right side menu. Displayed will be a list of companies with SWOT reports.

For a practical overview see
Finding Competitive Information for Growing Companies and If they only knew: Finding competitive intelligence from the websites of your competitors and their friends (FUMSI 2008)




Competitive intelligence in New Zealand

Selected articles:


Copyright©The University of Auckland Library
Comments and suggestions to: Margaret Tibbles
 Last updated: 11 May, 2011