Information gathering about one's competitors and the competitive environment allows a company to make fully informed decisions. Most information needed is available through public means, but it might take some effort to find it. We don't expect a competitor to announce their problems, concerns, suspicions, etc., in a public place, but sometimes they do.
Today, I had lunch in a very public spot, and listened to a group at the next table quite loudly talk about a technology that seemed to appear in the market and might have been stolen from someone else. Specifics --including names -- were mentioned. That's not good. Perhaps it wasn't their technology and perhaps their company had no involvement in the situation, but it sounded like sensitive information was being aired very publicly.
If you are involved in doing research for your organization/company, maybe even competitive intelligence, you might want to work with your management to educate other employees about how to handle the information that they have. How should they handle or safe guard information such as sales data, marketing information, strategy documents, price lists, etc.? What information should be shared with people outside of the organization and how? What information should or should not be discussed in a public place? A little education might save your organization/company heartache -- and its market share -- later on.