What am I missing? Why would a vendor brief a competitive intelligence firm?

While an AR director, each time I received a call from a competitive intelligence (CI) firm analyst requesting information, I would politely decline. When asked why I had declined, I would respond “Why would I give you information that you will turn around and give to my competitors?” This CI types often tried to persuade me by suggesting that I did not want them to have out-of-date information because that could cause them to inaccurately inform their clients. “Hmm,” I would answer, “wouldn’t it be better for my company if you were giving my competitors and their sales representatives inaccurate information so they would be less effective in stealing sales from us?”
 
Am I missing something? Is there value giving information to CI firms, even if they are going to turn around give that information to my competitors?
 
Remember, they are likely fulfilling a contract with your competitor to obtain this information. Just look at how the CI firms market themselves. If you visit CI firms’ websites you see tag lines like:
 
 “Outsmart your competitors”
 
And the About Us has descriptions like:
 
“…helps clients beat the competition by providing continuous, in-depth competitive intelligence. We enable sales teams, marketing professionals, product managers, and executives to quickly anticipate and respond to competitor threats.”
 
Now granted, all market research and advisory firms will provide some competitive intelligence if asked, but they are careful to use more-or-less public information. It is not their business model to directly provide CI to vendor sales teams in a rapid manner.
 
If the CI analysts follow the guidelines of organizations like the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) then what they do is ethical. I have nothing against CI firms in general and will recommend that IT vendors become clients of CI firms. But would I actually brief CI analysts? I’m still doubtful.
 
Bottom Line: Not all analysts are the same in terms of their clients and how they impact your company. Segmenting the analyst market into the types of analysts is a critical task for AR managers as this task will help them decide who does or does not get briefed.
 
Question: For CI analysts, please address the issue of why you should be briefed. For AR managers, do you treat CI analysts just like other analysts and respond to briefing requests?

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