An Intellegence Revolution

I’m sometimes referred to dismissively as the Investigator who searches databases, or the guy who gets other people to do research and just manages the report writing (they can’t grasp the concept of a Project Manager). These people dinosaurs just don’t understand that the conduct of knowledge work has changed and that it will continue to change. Industrial technology brought about the Industrial Revolution, now information  technology is bringing about an Intelligence Revolution.

For example, the  news media acknowledged that Wikipedia was the clearing house for information about the Virginia Tech shooting. Over 8000 amendments to the Wikipedia article were posted in 2 weeks. A former director of the National Security Agency told  congress  in 2002, “Al-Qaida did not need to develop a telecommunication system. All it had to do was harvest the products of a three trillion dollar a year telecommunications industry; an industry that had made communications signals varied, global, instantaneous, complex, and encrypted.”

Open sources, open systems, and advanced telecommunications technology are changing how any form of intelligence collection and reporting is done. These developments have also changed how we have to look at the Intelligence Cycle. The decision-makers and intelligence professionals must now come together within the same space and time to focus on the target in a collaborative model using easily configurable open systems. ( An open system, in management science, is a system that is capable of self-maintenance on the basis of throughput of resources from the environment and usually operated on  a computer system that provides a  combination of interoperability, portability, and open software standards.)  In effect, contributors, analysts, and end-users must employ every tool available simultaneously. There is no time for the traditional Intelligence Cycle to function. Clark’s Intelligence Analysis: A Target-Centric Approach, 2nd Edition and  the “fusion cells” in Iraq may offer models for this more focused, collaborative, and time-compressed intelligence process.

This presents management difficulties associated with the resistance to change, training, organisational structure, the introduction of new technology, and outsourcing. Contractors will collect and fact-check data before entering it into an open system for further processing. Portions of intelligence projects will be managed by outside contractors who compile data from many sources and then feed the results into the open system. Contractors will create chronologies, social network maps, link diagrams, and databases, all of which will be available through an open system. Everybody involved with collection will have some contact with the end user or project manager.

These changes are starting to happen in the public sector. If you do competitive intelligence or complex investigations in the private sector, then you need to start changing your work processes or be left behind by your competitors.  Adapt, or become a fossil.