What makes an excellent Competitive Intelligence and OSINT Analyst? Whether for Competitive Intelligence, strategy, Market Intelligence, OSINT or similar, can these skills be taught? Or does it depend on something more? A significant factor is to be nosey. To be inquisitive and never accept the first answer that comes along. You can teach tools and techniques, but analysts need to be able to see and understand the question that needs answering.
The questions that will allow you isolated the insight you are looking for. The wisdom that will solve your problems. So you can make excellent decisions based on the critical insights your answers have provided.
Determine what’s going on
Within the military, we learned how to determine what was going on. And who was doing what by utilising Traffic Analysis. Finding the answers even if you could not understand what people were saying to each other. Using the 5Ws. The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How questions. Bringing this into the corporate world, the analyst needs to do the same. By asking:
- Who is the target? Define their strength, customer, capability, threat and opportunity)?
- What do they want to do?
- When are they going to do it?
- Where will they target?
- Which markets or locations will they target?
- Why will they do what we think they will do?
- How will they do it?
- How will we know when they are starting to do it?
These questions should allow you to provide analysed answers. Then it may be important for decision-makers to understand:
- Who is our target? And what are our strengths, target customers, capability,
- What threats and opportunities will we face?
- What do we want to do?
- Also, what do they think we will do?
- When are we going to do it?
- Where will we target?
- Which markets or locations will we move into?
- Why should we do it, and why shouldn’t we do it?
- How will we do it?
- How will they know when we’ve are starting to do it?
Understand what you need to know
When an analyst has answered these type of questions, you will begin to understand what you need to know to develop insight further. Answering questions will create more questions. And enable you to analyse more information and gain Intelligence. Intelligence, your competitors, will not have.
Once you have the Intelligence to hand, you can develop hypotheses. Then check them to make sure they make sense. Determine if these hypotheses are likely to happen.
You also have to stand back and answer a question about yourself. And understand how you have come to those conclusions.
Practice and time allows you to learn to trust our gut in developing any theory. However, you may trust your gut as an analyst, but make sure it’s backed up with clear verified evidence. Make sure have assessed the likelihood of something happening or not. A critical danger when relying on intuition is not been aware of your cognitive bias. Watch out for bias, learn from prior experience and make sure you have tools that isolate and remove biases.
So, what makes an excellent Competitive Intelligence and OSINT Analyst? To be able to track backwards from the result to where you got the source material. You can’t be satisfied that you have found the answer. You have to verify everything and find arguments against what you believe to be right. Then can you make the decisions and strategies you need to grow.