"The optimist sees opportunity in every danger; the pessimist sees danger in every opportunity." -- Winston Churchill
Competitive intelligence professionals appear to be programmed to see the dangers, but in fact they can spot the opportunities among the dangers.
If a competitor is launching a new product or service, does that mean that the company will neglect its existing products/services? Will the company spread itself too thin? You do have to analyze how the new product will affect your products and customers, but there may be opportunity among the competitor’s existing customers to convert them to your offering.
Is your competitor heavily defending a leading position in a large market? The firm could be ignoring new entrants which could be acquired by your organization. Or it could be clinging to technology which has become outdated. Ruling the pay phone business (to update the buggy whip analogy) is not very profitable when people switch to cell phones in droves.
Watching for emerging competitors can highlight new markets. There is a first-to-market advantage, but in reality, companies that can recognize opportunities quickly and learn from the leader can often dominate with a superior product. A former employer, Digital Equipment Corporation, was actually second- or third-to-market with some of the products for which it was famous. When it was small and nimble, it spotted trends and rushed good products out into the market. Unfortunately, it lost this skill as it grew large and unwieldy.
So think like Winston Churchill and find money making opportunities for your organization in addition to warning co-workers of the dangers.