Competitive Intelligence

Tactical, Operational & Strategic Analysis of Markets, Competitors & Industries

Sally Church ( ) has incited me yesterday's morning [morning in Poland ( ), naturally ;-) ] to return to two discussions: What's in a Name? ( ) and Airbus' Presentation on Boeing 787 - Bad CI Ethics? ( ). In both of them appears OSINT. Above all, August Jackson's reply (on December 17, 2008 at 10:05am) incited me to compare his opinion with opinion of Arthur S. Hulnick ( ). I mean his OSINT: Is It Really Intelligence? ( ). Who of you will join me in studying Arthur S. Hulnick's opinion?

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Arthur S. Hulnick writes about CI in the part OSINT in the Private Sector naming it "competitive or marketplace intelligence" ( ). In his first words he directs readers to Stratfor - Geopolitical intelligence, economic, political, and military strategic forecasting ( ). There ( ) we can take the opportunity to reflect on one more fuzzy border related to our CI problems. Here is what they write.

STRATFOR members quickly come to realize the difference between intelligence and journalism. We are not the purveyors of gossip or trivia. We never forget the need to explain why any event or issue has significance and we use global intelligence not quotes.

Also today's journalists have to "explain why any event or issue has significance" and "use global intelligence", don't they?
Did Arthur S. Hulnick envy John H. Brown [PUBLIC DIPLOMACY GOES 'PUBIC' ( )] and wrote the following words?

In the private sector, competitive intelligence specialists use a category of OSINT not often found in government. This is called "grey intelligence" and concerns sources not readily available in the media, but available through digging into pubic (sic) records such as financial filings and real estate data.

I was intrigued enough by his description to analyze Bob Hoogenboom's concept of grey intelligence (Crime, Law and Social Change, Volume 45, Numbers 4-5, May 2006 , pp. 373-381). Bob develops in the article Grey intelligence Gary T. Marx's "hydraulic principle" (Ibidem, p. 377) -- police and intelligence services subcontract "the dirty work" to private intelligence organizations. Fortunately, there isn't CI among these organizations. :-)
Have you already read pages 8-11 of Arthur S. Hulnick's article ( )? How much causes of diminishing importance of CI in companies are similar to diminishing importance of OSINT in the Intelligence Community? Are today's methods of calculating the value of open sources' usefulness really so poor?

I'd like to thank Arthur S. Hulnick for the remark about Steven Aftergood (Ibidem, p. 15-16) whom I mentioned in two of the discussions [Rola dziennikarzy w dostępie do informacji publicznej and Dostęp do IP wg Petera Galisona i Robba Mossa ( )] started for my Polish students who within the next three weeks will at last begin to study problems of Information security ( ). It seems that Arthur's frustration has lately worsened ( ), doesn't it?

So, to sum up, is OSINT (and CI?) "worth the cost and effort to collect and analyze it" (Ibidem, p. 17)?
OSINT is a legitimate and effective form of intelligence collection and analysis.

Collection. For government agencies OSINT as a collection tool compliments covert forms of intelligence collection. OSINT focuses on internet research, but can include grey literature, such as leaflets or video recordings on DVD, as well as journals and other academia. OSINT can be included as a collection feed along with covet intelligence collection into assessments. Importantly, OSINT can usually be gathered quicker and cheaper than covert intelligence.

Analysis. OSINT as an assessment or intelligence analysis function can also be a stand alone function. However, government agencies are typically less keen for OSINT functions to conduct discreet assessment, especially if it runs parellel to "all source" assessment, which is a combination of covert and open source intelligence.

Therefore, by its very nature, CI and OSINT are very similar functions; assuming of course that no one condones corporate espionage as a CI function.

The best CI teams collect and then analyse data, and turn in into succinct assessments for their senior leadership group. Analysts with OSINT collection and assessment experience, will typically make good CI practitioners, as long as they are given time to develop their business acumen.


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