Competitive Intelligence Analysis - No Industry Experience Required

One of the bizarre patterns in the surveillance industry is that most people who do competitive intelligence analysis have no industry experience.

This came up again today in a new Avigilon job posting.

Avigilon is seeking a Competitive Intelligence Analyst whose top responsibilities include:

  • Review industry and CI data, and accurately interpret and convert findings into actionable intelligence to be used within various areas of the organization.
  • Provide sales with insightful and accurate evaluations and analyses of company, product and market trends, customer pain points, and opportunities; translate knowledge into concrete recommendations and competitive advantage messaging.
  • Design, implement and manage a CI lab – benchmarking Avigilon products against our top competitors’ products in collaboration with product management, engineering and tech support.

However, none of the qualifications include anything to do with the video surveillance industry. Indeed, "Knowledge of surveillance and security industry" is only mentioned as a 'nice to have'.

This is common in our industry. Indeed the market research firms, like IMS / IHS, feature almost exclusively people with no industry experience and often who just finished university.

The problem we have found, even internally with IPVM employees, is that it is really really hard to 'accuraterly interpret' industry data and provide 'insightful and accurate evaluations' unless you have deep industry experience to draw from. There are simply too many nuances and too many factors that impact strong analysis.

When you have no industry experience, invariably the output becomes blind regurgitation and the employee becomes little more than a book report boy.

That said, this happens a lot, both on the manufacturer and market research side.

Anyone have theories why this is the case?


Industry knowledge can be taught more easily than teaching an analytical mindset.

"Industry knowledge can be taught more easily than teaching an analytical mindset."

I so wish that was true....

Both are hard no doubt, but I've see way way too many outsiders even with 'analytical mindsets' and from top schools struggle to understand industry dynamics.

With enough time and effort, it's certainly possible. But I think it would take years, even for a smart outsider to be able to consistently deliver insightful, accurate industry analysis (in any industry). What do you do with such people in the meantime?

It is also possible that the manager wants the analyst to learn "industry dynamics" based on the manager's point of view rather than from previous industry experience.

Often, so-called analysts (or consultants) are brought in to support a company's dogma and to justify an existing position to leadership or investors. The last thing in the world that they would want is someone with industry experience telling them that what they have been doing is all wrong. Sad, but true in many cases.

"Often, so-called analysts (or consultants) are brought in to support a company's dogma and to justify an existing position to leadership or investors."

Ignore The Noise About Avigilon

"brought in to support a company's dogma and to justify an existing position to leadership or investors"

I believe that sadly.

Having a good balance of some industry experience and analytical abilities is ideal. I would argue that you don't get someone with just deep industry experience alone as you can miss out on a fresh outsider's perspective and also on macro trends that may shape the video surveillance industry.

I would argue that you don't get someone with just deep industry experience...

I would argue that IMS would (and should) love deep experience, they just don't want to pay for it, and that's the reason they hire 'Fresh'. Unless you think this could happen:

Interviewer: Excellent,(quietly) now keep a lookout for a blue and white Welcome Package from HR... wait what's this on your resume?, "deep industry experience"? Care to clear that one up?

Vet: Sure, I've spent the last 20 exciting years in this industry, holding various positions from low-voltage engineer to high-pressure producer, both those on-site and those with oversight, but I must admit I'm still learning...

Interviewer: Hmmm, I see...Ok, Well, like I said look for something in the mmail..

Vet: Blue and white package, right?

Interviewer: Sometimes it's just white...

I've seen IMS job listings for security/ surveillance analysts before and the pay was pretty poor (like trade magazine editor bad). It would be a pay cut for every integrator I know and far worse for anyone with manufacturer experience.

I still don't get the logic. They are selling reports for $5,000 to $10,000 (or more). At those rates, you'd think they'd pay a premium.

Update: Avigilon has filled this position: Sven Tommi Rebein. Though he does not have any industry experience, he has a few years of defense experience and is finishing his PhD.