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Tunisian economic scene lags behind in integrating fundamentals of Competitive Intelligence, says Mohamed Jouneidi Abderrazak

Mohamed Jouneidi Abderrazak, certified expert in Strategic Planning and Competitive Intelligence, emphasizes the crucial role of the mastery of value-added information and its protection in the approach of the company to achieve its objectives.

This approach is, in his eyes, strategic in a difficult economic environment that challenges Tunisian businesses to increase their vigilance to maintain their competitive advantages and develop new projects based on a better decryption of the levers of potential growth.

Interview:

What is Competitive Intelligence and which solutions is it supposed to bring to Tunisian businesses?

Economic Intelligence or “Competitive Intelligence,” which, in my opinion, is a telling term of the philosophy of this discipline, is none other than research and access to public, ethical and legal information, to better understand the strategies of competitors and the market environment. Its goal is to transform, through appropriate analysis tools, such information into “intelligence.”

It therefore has different borders from Knowledge Management or strategic monitoring and analysis, while using the tools of these disciplines and others like Creative Thinking, Competitive Intelligence, Market analysis or Scanning the Environment.

Because of their integration and openness to the global economy, Tunisian companies are now exposed to increased competition.

In the current business and transition climate, these companies face additional challenges in maintaining their competitive advantages, preserving their assets related to their intangible capital, the risk of loss of critical information as well as risks of social crises altering the image and reputation of these companies.

In practice, having a structure of Competitive Intelligence allows Tunisian companies to implement mechanisms to help in strategic decisions that enhance the competitive ability of the company and its bargaining power.

It also helps develop strong action plans for monitoring and enhancing the image of the company, in cooperation with other departments.

Finally, this structure will lead the implementation of a system to anticipate risks and aid in the management of crises.

Is Competitive Intelligence beneficial to SMEs or rather exclusive to large companies?

The experience of other countries, including France, shows that Competitive Intelligence is used even by small businesses.

Certainly, the challenges and complexities of SME markets are not similar to those of large firms which are more exposed to competition. It is therefore quite understandable that these big firms are the first to focus on the contributions of Competitive Intelligence and allocate a budget and a specific interest.

However, SMEs, first by the awareness of the interest of adopting a process of competitive intelligence, then by using tools certainly simpler but still effective, can enhance their competitive power. We must not forget that SMEs face competition with full force because they are often active in sectors with low barriers to entry and a limited bargaining power.

Competitive Business Intelligence can therefore be a significant lever for Tunisian SMEs catalyzing their growth and access to new markets, including through monitoring and implementation of appropriate strategies to their markets.

Who is the most committed to the promotion of Competitive Intelligence in Tunisia, the public or the private sector?

The Tunisian economic scene lags behind in integrating fundamentals and tools of Competitive Intelligence in its structures.

To date, very few higher education courses include Competitive Intelligence in Tunisia. These courses are also very theoretical.

At the institutional level, some seminars and discussions were held here and there by organizations such as the IACE, CJD, CEPEX, and CCI Tunis … whose role is rather an educational one.

At the level of research and consulting firms, the recent years have seen the emergence of services related to: strategic and competitive intelligence, community management and online reputation. However, very few certified and qualified consultants are on the market today.

There is also a lot of confusion between competitive intelligence and business intelligence (a field rather close to computer skills).

Finally, some initiatives should be closely monitored, including the Tunisian Centre of Monitoring and Competitive Intelligence, IACE, The Tunisian Network for Monitoring and Competitive Intelligence, a project initiated in 2009 as part of the promotion of Tunisian exports, with the technical assistance of the CCI of Tunis and the work of some young associations such as ATIE and ATIS.

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