Doing Global CI Rankings (part 1)

October 31, 2014

Last week, I posted a work in progress, taking a first cut at determining how likely it is that you can get reliable CI in a country with which you are not familiar. Since that time, I have had several discussions with Arthur Weiss, a long-time friend and business associate from AW Marketing (AWARE) Ltd.

 

I am going to start incorporating some of our discussions in an effort to develop a more refined index. In my first cut, I gave all indices equal weight. That is not the case now with this version (2.0).

  1. How comfortable a business environment is there in any particular country? I would expect that the ease of doing business would correlate to some degree with the ease of collecting intelligence on those entities doing business. A resource here is the World Bank’s Doing Business Rankings. However, to be fair, this particular index includes a lot of measures not related to getting good CI, such as getting electricity and getting credit. So, in fairness, I think that this item’s weight should be downgraded, so I am doing it.
  2. Arthur has suggested several additional metrics. One of particular interest is Hofstede’s Power Distance Index which measures the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. For CI, this can translate into the fact that junior staff may be less knowledgeable about aspects of their own business which similar staff in a lower Power Distance Index culture would take for granted. If they do now know it, they cannot share it.
  3. How easy is it to get information from the public sector about the public sector, such as ownership of businesses, spending, regulations etc., as well as about the private sector, such as private sector filings? We are using the Global Open Data index. This should probably have a little more than average weight since it deals with transparency, a critical aspect of CI.
  4. Finally, how corrupt is the public sector? In many countries, parts of the economy have direct or indirect ties to the national government. But an environment of corruption makes it difficult to do business, and also to develop actionable CI about businesses, whether or not government-owned. For information on this look to the Corruption Perceptions Index.

So what do we find? Let’s compare the US, the UK, China, Brazil, and India plus add South Korea and Germany in a working chart:

Country/ Index Ranking Ease of Doing Business Rank (World Bank) Open Data Rank (Global Open Government Index) Corruption Perceptions Rank (Corruption Perceptions Index) Power Distance Index Score (of 120) (Hofstede) Overall Composite Ranking (Percentile)
Brazil 116 25 72 69 40
China 96 41 80 80 43
Germany 14 13 12 35 12
India 134 29 94 77 47
South Korea 5 37 37 60 23
UK 10 1 14 35 10
US 4 3 19 40 12

 

Does this comport with your knowledge/expectation? That is, the UK is in the top 10% of jurisdictions for developing CI, followed by the US and Germany in the next 10%, with South Korea below them in the third percentile, and India, China and Brazil well below that, barely in the top half of nations.

Arthur and I will continue to work on this, but we welcome your comments.

 


Where can’t you do competitive intelligence?

October 22, 2014

This question is provoked by the cover of the October 27, 2014 issue of Fortune, “The New Cold War on Business”. I do not intend to comment on this very good article, but would like to offer my views on how to identify the business and political environments that make it easy (or most difficult) to collect and use competitive intelligence of any sort.

I have in mind the comments of a friend who, talking of one (unnamed) country, said that local firms “will tell you what you want to know, that is, what they think you want to hear. It just has little to do with what is actually going on.”

In other words, before you try to develop, or hire someone to develop, CI in another country, is there any way to determine how likely it is that you can get reliable CI?

  1. How comfortable a business environment is there in any particular country? I would expect that the ease of doing business would correlate with the ease of collecting intelligence on those entities doing business. A resource here is the World Bank’s Doing Business Rankings.
  2.  How easy is it to get information from the public sector about the public sector, such as ownership of businesses, spending, regulations etc., as well as about the private sector, such as private sector filings? Try looking at the Global Open Data index. Where does a country rate on that index?
  3. How corrupt is the public sector? For example, in many countries, parts of the economy have direct or indirect ties to the national government. But an environment of corruption makes it difficult to do business, and also to develop actionable CI about businesses. Where can you get information on this? Look at something like the Corruption Perceptions Index.

So what do we find? Let’s compare the US, the UK, China, Brazil, and India in my working chart:

 

Competitive Intelligence Index (1 is best, 100 is worst)

Country Ease of Doing Business Rank # of Jurisdictions Open Data Rank # of Jurisdictions Corruption Perceptions Rank # of Jurisdictions Overall Composite Ranking
Brazil 116 189 25 250 72 177 37
China 96 189 41 250 80 177 37
India 134 189 29 250 94 177 45
UK 10 189 1 250 14 177 5
US 4 189 3 250 19 177 5

 

Does this comport with what you know? I would like your feedback on this.


What’s the right target?

October 16, 2014

I just finished reading an interesting book (Hank Prunckun, Scientific Methods of Inquiry for Intelligence Analysis (second edition), Rowman & Littlefield, London, 2014, 369 pages) which I have reviewed for the International Association For Intelligence Education.

One of the many interesting observations on intelligence that Professor Prunckun makes is that intelligence has two intimately related features:

(1) that decision-makers should not base their decisions on information, but rather on intelligence, and

(2) that intelligence strives to answer the most pressing questions on a decision-maker’s mind. (p. 20).

For those involved with competitive intelligence who seem concerned, or even confused, about where CI is going, perhaps they consider the 2nd feature. Then ask whether or not those practicing CI, including you, are seeking to answer only the “most pressing” questions or are including questions of interest. (In my CI training, I usually divide these into “need to know” and “nice to know”). Unfortunately, I think the answer may too often be “questions of interest” and rarely, if ever, the “most pressing questions”.

If the CI being provided is just “interesting”, and not “vital” (a restatement of the same issue), then, I submit, it is not CI. Why? Because it is just interesting, not actionable.

——

As suggested, when this review is published, I will link this blog to it.


It’s the Internet’s fault

October 10, 2014

There are several undercurrents emerging about competitive intelligence. I see them as including the feeling that competitive intelligence is (A) easy and/or (B) not really needed because it is obvious/lacking insights. Now to be fair, comments like this are usually coming from people who either (A) don’t actually do competitive intelligence or (B) don’t use competitive intelligence, but they are still out there.

Why such negativism?

One reason may be the Internet. Now, I know we blame everything from childhood obesity to dangerous driving on the Internet, but there may be some connection here. The Internet, expanding as it does every day, particularly by adding governmental records and personal data on rapidly increasing basis, has made it easier to develop vast amounts of raw data in a relatively short time. This has several important consequences.

One consequence is that the time we have to do our tasks, including CI, has not increased, but when the amount of data we receive has increased, we are spending, therefore, less time on analysis. That is a real problem when research indicates that, given the opportunity, more time should be spent on analysis and less on data gathering to produce actionable CI.

A second consequence is that, since people doing CI, either full-time or part-time, are gathering lots of data, they feel that it is necessary to do something with all that data. The result: the daily/weekly briefing/newsletter/report. In other words, an internal daily newspaper. As we can see the fate of daily newspapers in the Internet age has not been particularly promising, why should we think that the fate would be any better for CI activities that rely on these fast, and consequently analysis light/free, vehicles? It is always been my professional position that a full-time CI unit should use such vehicles sparingly; frankly, use them only as a way to drag the readers into using the CI team for more advanced, more valuable research.

The third consequence is that past CI efforts, in the minds of at least some end-users, have created the illusion that they’ve already collected “everything there is to know”. In other words by consuming the harvest of low hanging fruit, our CI consumers filled up on junk food. (Yes I know it’s a mixed metaphor.)

Whether you are consuming CI, providing your own CI, or just learning more about CI, be sensitive to this: the availability of too much raw data is impeding the provision of even minimally important amounts of analysis. In addition, quick may have already replaced good. (Remember those quaint signs that say “You can have any 2 of these 3: quick, good, or cheap.”)

When I was talking to a friend about this, someone who had been a teacher who was reflecting on the research he saw from college students, he made an observation which I will credit to him (without using his name at his request) – if research and the related analysis was likened to the preparation of a meal, then Internet-based research produces the equivalent of a TV dinner. To the naked eye, it looks like a meal, but for the consumer, it lacks the taste, nutrition, and visual appeal of a well-sourced, and well-prepared fine meal.