Thursday, August 5, 2010

How "intelligent" is your intelligence?

I would venture to guess that your organization values pertinent information surrounding its industry. I would also assume that you have someone in your organization who was given the responsibility to gather and collect competitive information, likely through industry sites and tools like "Google Alerts."

So we've established that you are interested in competitive intel and that you likely have someone gathering it. What's next?

Well, what is the quality of your information? Is it fact or hearsay? The quality of your intel can drastically impact the effectiveness of your strategy....just ask Hans Blix or Collin Powell. In a perfect world every bit of information is fact and easily verifiable. In the real world you are likely required to use a little bit of your gut in determining whether or not the information is good enough to act upon.

The folks in the intelligence community have been wrestling with this issue for years. To that end they developed the Admiralty Rating Scheme. It is a code that essentially allows intelligence analysts to rate information on its reliability and credibility.

While there isn't any kind of uniform rating system in the private sector, most astute companies apply some kind of grade to the gathered intelligence. And these companies follow a similar outline. How reliable is the source of information? (Industry expert or arm chair blog hack?) And, how credible is the information. (Can it be validated elsewhere or does it make sense given everything else that you know?)

The application of a simple rating system can drastically improve your ability to turn information into intelligence that is worthy to run a strategy off of. We all know that decision making can be difficult for many companies. So when it is time for one, make sure that you are basing it on good intel.