A broad definition of competitive intelligence is: the act of defining, gathering, analyzing, and distributing Intelligence about any aspect of the environment the organization finds itself in to support executives and managers in making strategic decisions.
While many companies focus on competitors' information ( i.e. products will they launch, how truly profitable they are, how will they price their products in the future, who is employed), it is clear that companies find increasing value in customer intelligence ( i.e. why are they buying from our competitors, what makes them tick, what features do they value, what connection do they have with other suppliers), and trends analysis (i.e anticipating market future needs, exploring useful technologies to get ahead).
On a different level, Competitive Intelligence is a fantastic tool to challenge assumptions within the organization. Here are a few examples: