All Posts By

Graeme

Are products circling to the bottom?

By | Opinion

Are products circling to the bottom? Have you noticed that a company comes out with a great new product or a musician has a smash hit album, and their customers love it?

Then their competitors start the race to copy what they have done? This copying may explain the number of Ed Sheeran clones around at the moment and why Apple is between a rock and a hard place.

The trouble is with this plagiarism becomes the industry standard very quickly, and the reduced impact on the then delighted customer. They shrug their shoulders and get on with it.

So then, the company with the original idea has a set of customers with even higher expectations and thus have to innovate to keep up.

Intelligence helps companies like this to jump three steps ahead of the competition, isolate weaknesses in current offerings and predict what is going to happen in the future.

So, do you what more answers to the questions you need to ask? Get in touch here or follow us on Twitter

Change is risky

By | Opinion

Great ideas take time to establish themselves. According to Seth Godin in this excellent new book, ‘This is Marketing’, it is because the best ideas require significant change. They fly in the face of the status quo and inertia is very powerful.

Great ideas create a lot of noise and distrust. He says “Change is risky and that’s why some companies want others to go first to test the water.”

Smart companies use intelligence to reduce uncertainty and the consequences of risk allowing you to have a clear head to make better decisions. Intelligence can also determine how successful your great idea could be before committing millions and risking brand and reputation. Intelligence tells it how it is and provides a bedrock of certainty upon which to build decision making and future proofing strategies.

So, do you what more answers to the questions you need to ask? Get in touch here or follow us on Twitter

boy next to a wall What is Competitive Intelligence?

What is Competitive Intelligence?

By | Intelligence

What is Competitive Intelligence?

It’s knowledge about your competitors, your market and your customers which is not readily available. And, it’s the information you need to dig a little deeper to find, often in places people where don’t want to share. It’s asking the questions to get the answers you really want to know. Also, it helps you make decisions and take action relying on more certainty, rather than guesswork and dated assumptions.

So, do you what more answers to the questions you need to ask? Get in touch here or follow us on Twitter

Cyber security mega-breaches on the horizon?

By | Opinion

Security breaches typically with vast cost to a company. Even a mid-size organisation can rack up multiple millions to rectify damage from just one breach.

Data breaches are even more expensive, triggering sudden lack of trust in customers, which can take years to regain. Depending on location, fines can add to the cost. In the UK, for example, the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) is sharpening its claws, preparing to fine offending companies, punishing them while swelling the Treasury coffers.

Smaller, but significant, breaches may not even hit the headlines

In 2019 we will see more mega-breaches. It is likely that this will, ironically, mean that smaller, but significant, breaches may not even hit the headlines, to some extent “normalising” the event.

With all the cyber security available there is one weakness that cannot be managed by automation: people. People will continue to make mistakes and people will continue to be repetitive and lazy in the way they do things.

The biggest threat, however, is not the individuals that form a user or customer base – it is the apathetic approach of many business leaders, the belief that “it” won’t happen to us”, because they have the latest cyber security system. Cyber security systems are all very well, but is naïve to over-rely on them.

They only have to be lucky once

Hackers will always be one step ahead. They know what they are going to do and how they intend to break in. As with terrorists, hackers just need to be lucky once, whilst the authorities need to be lucky every time.

Yes, businesses should have software with the best bells and whistles, but their security professionals will next year need to actively go on the attack, and be more vigilant than ever in analysing the latest hacking trends.

An Intelligence led approach to Cyber Security is required for 2019.

Ask questions like:

So what?
How are they going to hack into your system?
Why they would want to steal your information?
Who will want to hack into the system?
What do we do to stop them?

Artificial intelligence, mighty machines and powerful robots

By | Artificial Intelligence
We read many articles and watch adverts proclaiming the virtues and threats of Artificial Intelligence.
I have a number of thoughts on this subject.
To start, the term Artificial Intelligence “AI”.   is not even named correctly.
Also, if you think about it, a ‘computer’ is a pretty terrible name too.

AI isn’t Artificial or actually Intelligent

Our point is that AI isn’t Artificial or actually Intelligent.
It’s a vastly expanded and sophisticated version of the same digital processes that apparently powered astronauts to the moon in the ’60s. Conspiracy theorists would suggest this logic applied to all things digital would mean that we would have an opportunity to live in moon based cities by now.  And yet we have not been back since… Interesting, I wonder why?
We are already enshrined in algorithmic predetermination.
For example, the number of people who will see this article is subject to an algorithm that assumes and prepositions everyone’s exposure to everyone else.

Who decides what news is anyway?

The algorithmic influence of who sees what is not within the purview of the actual reader.
In past times we decided what to read through personal choice (or at least the perception of such) as to what they listened to or watched on radio, TV and what newspaper they read.
Oh, those heady days before anyone started to ask questions such as ‘Who decides what news is anyway?’
So little wonder we remain unsure, removed and confused (look at almost any aspect economic, political, social, spiritual, sociological existence).
Technology has done wondrous things, good and bad.  Are we sure we understand it all yet?
Also, we don’t yet have the track record to safely programme something that will not make the errors of judgement that humans make.

Humanlike traits

Humans are subjective, and machines are objective.
AI is merely an extension of data processing. It’s a series of ‘1’s and ‘0’s that work tirelessly without rest.
Without any humanlike traits, they will become the exponential total of the base programming instigated at the outset.
Implementing AI should be in a manner that is truly pure, truly sacrosanct and untouched by any self-interest, politics, profit motive or short-term gain.
So assuming such a means could be found.
Moreover, which it almost certainly can’t or won’t, could it also be free to serve humankind in such a way that it can just as easily be accessed by everyone.
People in underdeveloped economies as well as global companies, by states, by anyone, anywhere anytime.
If so, what would such a resource look like? What would it be able to do and how would we even get that far?
Moreover, where would the investment come from without the interest to investors being enshrined?
Is what we paint as progress such, as students embark on university courses, happy to sign up to substantial financial indebtedness to find that upon qualification, their subject matter has moved on and their qualification is already outmoded or soon will be.

Change and progress

Many people think that change and progress are the same things.
Are we endlessly questing for change and calling it progress?
Essentially, it is people who make the mistakes; machines only do what their program commands.
In a world of people and machines, humans are advantaged by many things; machines will augment us and machines will advantage us.
However, until we have mastered our capabilities dare we allow machines to self-learn and make immensely faster judgements and determinations based upon perceptive judgements.
It could rapidly become vastly alien to those of humankind?
We are already so reliant upon technology that cognitive reasoning, decision making and free choice are becoming perishable skillsets.
And inundated with information while knowledge is getting scarcer by the microsecond.
We are so far away yet from mastering our potential, why should we distract ourselves from what we are each truly capable of by defaulting to endless technological alternatives that are decades if not centuries away from aspiring to be a fraction of what a human being can be.
Also, we ought to use our organic computing systems, we each have one to think this through, and we don’t need artificial intelligence when we have intelligence.

‘John Connor Defeats Skynet’

By Darrell West
Please feel free to leave a comment below or get In touch with us here. Follow us on Twitter
Military Intelligence

Military intelligence lessons

By | Intelligence

Before reading this article, written for the SCIP magazine, you may be expecting many useful Military Intelligence tools and tips. But films and TV don’t offer an accurate reflection of military intelligence.

The reality may seem so much more mundane because the best tools used are your mind, your attitude and simple common sense.

That said, there are many skills involved in the Military Intelligence field which are relevant to life within the commercial world.

The Military teaches us that when the chips are down, instead of panicking, have a cup of tea.

Strap on your pack, pick up your rifle, give your teammates some banter and get on with it.

It may be a British thing, but if you are struggling to find information, have a laugh at yourself. Call yourself a name and get back to it.

Choose the right team with the right skills

The first military lesson is to ensure that you have the most suitable and highly trained team possible to match the situation being faced.

In the military, you would not have an SAS Troop tasked to feed five hundred people.

You wouldn’t give the job of breaking an embassy siege to the Women’s Royal Balloon Corps just because they were around the corner and had just finished another project.

It may sound funny, but this sort of mismatch is seen all too frequently in the corporate world.

Marketing assistants may be asked to look for competitor information or to help find someone to do competitive intelligence for them.

A quick google search may be undertaken with the assumption that this will give enough intelligence.

Quality intelligence, where the right questions are asked. Where the best tools are used, which goes deep and turns over every stone, is the result of many years of training and experience.

The 7 Ps

The military has a saying “Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents “Particularly” Poor Performance.”

This teaches us that real leadership is to ensure you have a well thought out plan which includes a “don’t give up” attitude.

Nevertheless, the military also teaches us that sometimes you have to change your plan when situations on the ground demand it.

If you are unable to do this, sticking rigidly to what you were told to do, then you will soon lose the respect of your team, or worse.

So, if you are trying to collect information and it is becoming impossible, change the way you are doing the research. Approach the mountain of information from a different angle.

Accuracy

Accuracy is a crucial demand within both Military and Competitive Intelligence. Especially if there is a good chance that what you create could be used in the field. In the military, intelligence has to be accurate, or it risks lives. Lives of people and their families you will never meet.

Walking hand in hand with accuracy is common sense and the ability to think quickly and calmly.

You can only do this if you are confident in your ability, are well trained and experienced. The same applies in the commercial world.

Presenting tools

In the military, there is no better example of how important it is to get your message across. To people who need to decide what to and those who are tasked to do it.

Imagine the eve of a battle and the general stands up to address his men.

Armed with Intelligence and a plan, he outlines how he is going to defeat the enemy.

He realises that his troops and commanders will have difficulty in understanding the environment they will be fighting in.

But not to worry, he is prepared. And he reveals a fantastic PowerPoint presentation and a SWOT diagram! Teams have to get into breakout groups. They discuss the plan and isolate what the intelligence means to them.

As you can perhaps understand, this is going to worry the troops, who like to know which way to go and what to shoot at.

As discussed already, the military uses orders, Standard Operating Procedures and they are highly trained.

To keep it simple, the general delivers a succinct, inspiring message. A message everyone understands and replaces the SWOT diagram with something called a Map.

Map are simple to understand and, when in the battlefield, maps can be drawn in the sand with features recreated with pebbles and bits of stick. A 3D map called a model.

From these maps, commanders in the field build models of specific areas and buildings they need to focus on.

The military teaches us all to keep things simple, work as a team and prepare well.  And, in order to ensure we know what to do and where to go, use a map.

Continued.

The full article can be found here and was written for the SCIP Magazine by Graeme Dixon and Darrell West of Octopus Intelligence. www.octopusintelligence.com

A tiger needs two killer things before deciding to attack

Best decisions made with your animal instincts

By | Intelligence

Blink

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell explores how we process our intuition and instinct and suggests how we make split-second decisions and judgments.  Both good and bad ones.

Gut feeling is an inbuilt reaction which allows us to accurately read a dangerous situation or a person who may wish us harm.

The book offers an appreciation of judgments based on less information rather than more. On expert intuition or instinct rather than the less seasoned novice judgments.

Gladwell suggests that intuitive or “snap” judgments are valuable. And that the more experienced you are on a subject, the more this will allow you to make accurate decisions.

We agree with Gladwell, that gut feeling can be an excellent tool for minor points, life and death experiences. (not too many of those at Octopus towers recently) To give a general direction of understanding of what’s going on, but gut feeling must be backed up by significant verifiable information.

Gladwell introduces the concept of “thin-slicing”.  That’s your unconscious mind’s ability to isolate patterns and meaning within the most fleeting “slices” of experience and impressions.

He gives an example of the ability of one psychologist to predict, with 95% accuracy, if a couple would still be together in fifteen years’ time. According to Gladwell, this and other examples, show how experts can take small samples and make fantastic, accurate predictions.

However, we need to take into account our environment when using gut feeling, as gut feeling can change depending on where you are and how threatened or content you feel. Within Intelligence, if you are up against a deadline, then validated gut feeling is more achievable if you are relaxed, with all the time in the world.

Not as good as we think

Our gut feeling is not as perfect as we might think. Even though, It can be a great tool to deploy when we are trying to analyse what’s going on with a competitor or a market. However, it is not the magic bullet, and we must be aware that our gut feel is exceptionally open to wishful thinking and bias, and this must be taken into account.

The more market and life experience you have, the more this could prevent you using your gut reaction and picking up on those intangible warning signs if your industry changes or new competitors come along.

And yes, your industry can and almost certainly will change; it’s up to you to realise this. That industry experience and know-how should not let you lose sight of how potentially useful your gut feeling could be.

We can take gut feeling into account, as one part of a whole repertoire of tools, but the future direction of your business in an ever-changing market needs considered detailed analysis.

So, whilst we shouldn’t ignore our intuition, we should not make critical business decisions with it either.

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