Competitive Intelligence

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Airbus' Presentation on Boeing 787 - Bad CI Ethics?

I just came across a story on FlightBlogger about a presentation done by Airbus's Head of Engineering Intelligence and there's some questions as to how Airbus obtained some of the data in the presentation. I've posted it on the cimarketplace blog and am pasting below. The PDF of the presentation deck (all 46 slides) is available here. Question for this crowd is based on the information provided in the FlightBlogger piece do you suspect some unethical behavior on the part of Airbus?

Re-post of CIMarketplace piece:

FlightBlogger has posted a PDF copy of the competitive intelligence on Boeing's 787 project, titled Boeing 787 Lessons Learnt, that was presented internally by Burkhard Domke, Airbus's Head of Engineering Intelligence in their Future Projects Office. As the author of the blog points out there are some questions as to how some of the data was gathered, although Airbus claims they've done nothing wrong. From the post:

Competitive intelligence is a standard practice in the aerospace industry, but the information revealed in the Airbus analysis reveals a scope and specificity of the data collected.

The document includes what appear to be seven slides labelled BOEING PROPRIETARY with a format style used in Boeing presentations, including two that appear to have been photocopied, raising questions about the methods and sources the European consortium utilizes to collect its data.

Airbus claims the presentation, as well as its competitive intelligence gathering methods, fully comply with all laws. Though when approached about how the information was gathered, Airbus declined to address it specifically, suggesting that a lot of data labelled BOEING PROPRIETARY is freely available online. Airbus added that not all documents labelled BOEING PROPRIETARY are in fact proprietary. A spokesman emphasized that Airbus closely watches the market to draw its own conclusions, as do its competitors.

A search engine query for "Boeing Proprietary PPT" did not yield the slides in question.

Boeing declined comment until it reviewed the presentation.


It will be interesting to see what comes of this.

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The presentation does not seem to be available any longer on the flightblogger web site, but an alternative location may be found by searching on Google for: Airbus 787 Lessons learnt filetype:pdf

Regards
Pieter Smith
Many of the comments hinge around the idea of OSINT. I've always been an OSINT practitioner. The most "covert" thing I've ever done is accessing a competitor's website through their ANONYMOUS FTP. They don't seem to realize that FTP opens the whole server exactly the same as using Windows Explorer (only slight differences). The competitor is privately held, but post all their product brochures for download via FTP links. When you drill down, you find absolutely amazing detail. Most of it, of course, of no use at all. But it made it very possible to write some astoundingly detailed profiles. I would have had difficulty replicating the same detail on my OWN company. I never found a document bearing "proprietary" designation.

Sometimes a lot of effort is given to obtaining "the secret stuff". This is often the data that places you at jeopardy for lawsuit, prosecution, code of business conduct violation, etc. Before going after the "secret stuff" you need to ask several questions.

1. Do I even need it for anything of importance?
2. What would the company be able to do with it? Sometimes using it could get you sued anyway.
3. Is there a different (legitimate) way of getting the info?

Frequently folks go after the questionably secret data just because of the "cool" factor, even though it's of questionable use, and probably wouldn't convey any real competitive advantage anyway.

This is similar to the controversy among some interrogators. There's a new book out indicating that more conventional interrogation techniques can be more effective than aggressive and/or abusive approaches (without entering the torture debate). How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq (Hardcover)

The oft-repeated axiom that ethical methods are more effective proves true in most instances.

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