Monday, January 11, 2010

President Obama, Terrorism, and Corporate Intelligence

We were all disturbed when we heard of the alleged terrorist plot that took place on Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas day. While the plot ultimately failed it unnerved a sensitive public that is forever scarred by September 11th. Almost immediately the media, policy makers, politicians, and members of the intelligence community quickly jumped into the fray to mete out blame and determine fault. This was especially disturbing considering that the intelligence community reportedly had credible intelligence on this man and possible threats to the U.S.

President Obama said it well when he stated "The system has failed in a potentially disastrous way,...The bottom line is this: The U.S. government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas Day attack,...But our intelligence community failed to connect those dots." Very chilling words.

Now international terrorism is far more serious, important, and wide reaching then corporate intelligence but there is still a lesson for the business community to learn. It is one thing to collect competitive information and it is a whole other thing to actively analyze and respond to this new found knowledge. We simply can't be satisfied that we are gathering information from the internet or trade shows. We need to adequately digest all of the information that we gather and act on what the intelligence says. Your inaction can lead to some serious negative consequences.

All companies should perform an internal audit to determine whether or not their current CI infrastructure is capable of connecting and acting on the disparate and distant dots that form actionable intelligence. Because we all know that it is one thing to passively monitor your competitive landscape and it is a completely other thing to harness this information in the development of sound corporate strategy.