Competitive intelligence is the process of obtaining and analyzing competitive information from publicly available sources, the above in order to help achieve the objectives of the organization (according to the book Beat the Competition, Gordon Lan, 1989, one of the first books on competitive intelligence). It is the public availability of competitive intelligence information that separates less ethical practices, such as industrial espionage. The term is often seen as synonymous with competitor analysis but competitive intelligence is more than analyzing competitors, refers to making an organization more competitive relative to its existing system of competitors and potential competitors. Customers and other key external stakeholders define the set of competitors to the organization and describes what could be a substitute for business.The term is often abbreviated as IC, and most large businesses now have some competitive intelligence functions with staff involved often being members of professional associations such as professional society of competitive intelligence. The information regarding daily activities of direct competition is highly valued, especially in the field of information technology and marketing in general. However, the scope of competitive intelligence is as varied as the personalities of those who punish. This includes details about employees, mergers, acquisition of software and proprietary software development, sales, data and forecasts. Many companies are concerned about maintaining their practices openly. One way to ensure this is to provide internal training and employee well-defined, written policies (eg in the employee handbook) regarding what is an acceptable practice.