One of the ways that I earn my keep is by gathering and processing information. Basically I try to keep an eye out for information that can be of value for my employer. I do this through the usual channels. I have my RSS feeds, I follow interesting people on Twitter, I read relevant publications and books online or offline. Sometimes I pursue threads that lead me to research papers, and sometimes I end up reading fashion blogs. I follow topics (Twingly Channels is excellent), conversations and people.
Information is currency, but almost all the information I get my hands on is out there for everyone and anyone to find. I guess it does take some skill and experience finding, filtering and evaluating information, but it’s hardly rocket surgery
The hard part comes later when you try to make sense of it all. But surprisingly, it is not uncommon for the whole process to grind to a halt after the information has been gathered. Now that, I don’t get. Serving people with information without aiding them in ways such as putting the info in perspective, in context and then stepping up and proposing strategies and directions, is really a half ass effort. It’s luke warm. It’s not cricket. To me this is obvious since I’m always interested in generated value – the end game of things.
Competitive Intelligence is really a five step process:
1. Gather – What’s going on?
2. Analyze – But what ever does it mean?
3. Focus – What does this mean for us?
4. Suggest – Based on the above I suggest we do this: X, Y and Z.
5. Act – Do X, Y and Z.
The chain of events – Information becomes Intelligence becomes Action. And then we loop.
Consider this: Information not processed and acted upon is only of value for those who buy and sell information, i.e for those whose end game is the info in itself.
Doesn’t that make you think of shady characters in old movies, you know, those creepy fellows with a cigarette but in the corner of their mouths? And they say to the cop that they’ve got a hot tip that will move the investigation along. A hard boiled dialogue always follows, and it ends with:
– But it’s gonna cost you another five bucks Mr…
– You filthy swine!
The cop reluctantly pulls out his wallet, and the information creep grins and grabs the fiver with his dirty paw. And then he says something along the lines of “go ask big daddy kingpin”, and then he scurries into the night, not giving a hoot for the rest of the story.
Now that’s no way to run a business. Just sayin’.