Searching the Social Internet

In past articles, I have described some of the sites mentioned by David Carpe in his excellent article titled How the Social Internet Simplifies Source Identification. This originally appeared in his regular column in Competitive Intelligence Magazine, published by the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals.

In the article, he discusses the virtues and flaws of many sites that let you search for information about people gathered from the social network sites and the Internet at large.

Evidence of Chinese Nuclear Sub Found

Blogger and analyst for the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), Hans M. Kristensen, recently discovered a photo of a second and possibly a third Jin-class nuclear-powered submarine at Bohai Shipyard in northeast China. He discovered the image using Google Earth, an online mapping service provided by Internet search engine giant Google, and posted his discovery on his blog on October 4.

The use of Google Earth for this creates some interesting challenges for both governments and private industry. In the private sector, security officials now must consider the loss of proprietary and competitive data through satellite imagery. An example of this might be the construction of new production facilities. In the past, overflights of such facilities have given rise to law suits. Now that the data already exists and  is searchable, how does one protect against a loss of critical information in this manner?

I predict the creative use of camouflage will become normal practice over the next couple of decades.

Bigger Still Isn’t Better

the $40 billion a year intel bureaucracy was not delivering much of value

In Iraq, a hodge podge of geeks and reservists (many of them cops or corporate “competitive intelligence” specialists) came up with lots of new ideas about how to collect, analyze and distribute intelligence. This was usually done at the divisional or brigade level, although some battalions, and even infantry companies, have come up with their own innovations. It was innovations like this that led to the capture of Saddam Hussein, and many prominent terrorists….

The combat troops also have an immediate incentive to make their intel operations work. If they don’t, they, or people they know, could get killed.

Too bad this type of incentive doesn’t exist in the private sector.

The Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act

The Companies Creditors Arrangement Act ( R.S.C., 1985, c. C-36 ) (CCAA) allows a plan of compromise between debtor and creditors to resolve the financial problems of a distressed company. The CCAA may only be applied where claims against the debtor company exceed $5 million. In short, the CCAA provides the insolvent company protection from the actions of creditors and allows the insolvent company to continue operations while a plan of arrangement is constructed.

To date, CCAA information is scattered across the country in various court offices, without any centralized recording. At the outset of a recent study, Industry Canada estimated 175 cases exist; the study located 219 cases under the act. There may be more that the study did not find.

Currently no requirements exist for debtor corporations in CCAA proceedings to report data or to publicly disclose it in a consistent way. Financial information and pension deficit information need to be reported in a consistent and accurate format. This is particularily important regarding pensions, as unfunded pension liabilities have impelled many recent CCAA filings.

A proposed amendment to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, may force the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy to collect uniform data into a cross-country database.

Blogs and Competitive Intelligence

If you don’t make use of Blogs in your Competitive Intelligence research you are missing out on a potential source of vital information. However, you must learn to deal with the high noise to signal ratio.

Blog research, at its best, is primary research as you are reading the original author. Blogs vary in quality, content, and accuracy. You need to evaluate what you find quite carefully. On the other hand, they are a superb source of gossip and rumours, which you will have to substantiate or carefully evaluate. Of course, once you find a relevant Blog it will lead you to others that may be relevant. Just follow the links, blogrolls, and tags.

Here is my list of Blog search engines:

Technorati Sphere Icerocket Google Kinja Livejournal Blogpulse Findory Blogdigger Feedster Plazoo Bloglines Bloogz Xanga Tailrank Clusty

Here is my list Blog-related sites useful for finding CEO or Executive Blogs:

CEO Blog List CEO Blog Watch Fortune 500 Business Blog

Marketing & Surveillance

Competitive Intelligence is the LEGAL acquisition of knowledge about the business environment. The Private Investigator can be a useful tool for gathering Competitive Intelligence.

For instance, surveilling competitors to identify their customers in aid of a new marketing plan. Once the sales calls begin, you may find one competitor has many dissatisfied customers who are ready for a change. This is an inexpensive way to enter new markets or expand a customer base.