How to Build a Successful Executive Intelligence Capability
In Part 1 we looked at why firms need executive intelligence and the challenges companies face in terms of capturing value from the onslaught of global data.
In Part 2 we look at the foundations for building a successful executive intelligence capability. Here are three main components to consider.
1) Patterns in Digital Anthropology – Why do some online campaigns succeed and others fail? As the above graphic illustrating a complex social network shows, simply mapping connections provides little intelligence in and of itself.
Comparing your firm’s efforts to known patterns and discovering patterns as they emerge helps create an early warning system. Not all networks behave the same way. Not all influence comes from those with the most social media followers.
When evaluating the risks posed by online campaigns targeting a company or industry the strength and reputation of the groups involved, how a campaign spreads, its timing and whether a firm proactively engages with the issues all come into play.
2) Trend Identification – International firms need more innovative ways of understanding economic and political trends beyond typical surveys and government data, especially in emerging markets.
Ground truth and what ends up in the corporate memo chain are often drastically different. Is a local demonstration against industrial water use an issue? Local advisers say no, but media analysis and the strength of local activism suggests it is an immediate operational risk to any new investment.
Knowing what to look for, where and then being able to match current concerns against historical trends yield critical insights.
Similarly, new opportunities often arise from looking at information in a different way. New social trends and preferences often emerge online well before being discussed in formal media. Identifying trends as they emerge and predicting their strength and longevity become invaluable to the decision making process.
3) Synthesis and Reporting – Corporate objectives need to drive the use of intelligence. Understanding who in the organization needs it, the best ways to present that information and how often they need to be updated are critical to building a system people will actually use.
Some firms build out technology first and then try to re-jigger what they have to fit the often disparate business needs across the organization. The net result can often be unnecessary expense and ultimately loss of confidence in the project.
Incorporating broader corporate functions (strategy, operations, marketing and security) into an intelligence capability is critical to providing insights that executives can use rather than summaries of social media popularity that are common in out-of-the-box solutions.
Many social media reports (either automated via dashboards or lightly edited) work their way up the corporate chain disconnected from strategic business goals. If feedback sounds something like “and what can I use this for?” intelligence has missed the mark.
In part 3 we’ll take a look at specific examples of what executive intelligence can do for an organization.
Graphic credit: CreativeCommon Usage, Map of social network connections.