Dr Alessandro Comai and  Dr. Prescott have been working in a multi-stage research project which purpose is developing a model for building a World-class CI function
They are now trying to build norms around the model we have developed. Therefore, they would like to invite you to benchmark your function against the model so that we can collect as many data as possible to build norms.

If you are interested in participating, please contact Dr Alessandro Comai at  and he will send you the like of our online survey.
This exercise will take about 20 minutes and it will give you the access to the model. You will be able to compare your Competitive Intelligence Function against world-class standard! Moreover, we will send you the norms by end of October and offer you a free access to our next multimedia tool (we hope to have it ready by the end of November).

Alessandro Comai
BSc. in Engineering, MBA, DEA (Esdae), PhD Candidate (Esade)


courtesy of :

More than 95% of U.S. based businesses indicate that they have dedicated some amount of resources to the gathering of intelligence. This may include market, sales or competitive intelligence, but the goal is usually the same: be better at business than the next guy.

But, few companies would rate themselves as being very effective with the intelligence. And, the funny thing is the discrepancy of the perception between those that gather the intelligence and those that would use it. Executives usually rate themselves as “somewhat effective” or “very effective” as using intelligence while the intelligence professionals generally rate the executives as “not very effective.” Hmmmm. Why so many axes to grind?

Every organization should examine and reexamine its practices to create a continual improvement process. During this process, I would recommend that each organization take a little time to review other organizations that make intelligence a priority.

Now, it would be difficult to peek into other businesses and discover their secrets. You wouldn’t open your doors to this kind of review. Why would anyone else?

But, you can look at an institution that, overall, leads the world in the gathering, analysis and use of intelligence – The military. In fact, you can make the case that the military has the longest running and most successful intelligence system in history. (We won’t talk about policy makers and their use or misuse of intelligence. That’s another story for another day…

Where else are the stakes higher than on the battlefield? In a situation where lives and equipment are constantly at risk, we can learn some very critical things about how the military values its “competitive intelligence”, from gathering through strategic use.

“Most militaries maintain a military intelligence corps with specialized intelligence units for collecting information in specific ways. Militaries also typically have intelligence staff personnel at each echelon down to battalion level. Intelligence officers and enlisted soldiers assigned to military intelligence may be selected for their analytical abilities or scores on intelligence tests. They usually receive formal training in these disciplines.

“Critical vulnerabilities are…indexed in a way that makes them easily available to advisors and line intelligence personnel who package this information for policy-makers and war-fighters. Vulnerabilities are usually indexed by the nation and military unit, with a list of possible attack methods.”

“Critical threats are usually maintained in a prioritized file, with important enemy capabilities analyzed on a schedule set by an estimate of the enemy’s preparation time. For example, nuclear threats between the USSR and the US were analyzed in real time by continuously on-duty staffs. In contrast, analysis of tank or army deployments are usually triggered by accumulations of fuel and munitions, which are monitored on slower, every-few-days cycles. In some cases, automated analysis is performed in real time on automated data traffic.”

“Packaging threats and vulnerabilities for decision makers is a crucial part of military intelligence. A good intelligence officer will stay very close to the policy-maker or war fighter, to anticipate their information requirements, and tailor the information needed. A good intelligence officer will ask a fairly large number of questions in order to help anticipate needs, perhaps even to the point of annoying the principal. For an important policy-maker, the intelligence officer will have a staff to which research projects can be assigned.”

Developing a plan of attack is not the responsibility of intelligence, though it helps an analyst to know the capabilities of common types of military units. Generally, policy-makers are presented with a list of threats, and opportunities. They approve some basic action, and then professional military personnel plan the detailed act and carry it out. Once hostilities begin, target selection often moves into the upper end of the military chain of command. Once ready stocks of weapons and fuel are depleted, logistic concerns are often exported to civilian policy-makers.” (

The points that catch my attention are:

  1. Intelligence professionals are present at each level of the military
  2. They receive formal training in intelligence practices
  3. Good intelligence officers stay very close to the policy-maker or war-fighter
  4. Good intelligence officers ask lots of questions to make sure that the intelligence program is on the right track and can anticipate the leaders’ needs
  5. Good intelligence officers package the intelligence in ways that the users can easily consume while still getting the intended “nutritional value”
  6. While competitive intelligence personnel are not responsible for policy, direction or decisions, they should try to understand how these decisions are made. This will provide a deeper context to make future intelligence efforts more valuable.

In the next post, we’ll look at the usual structure of intelligence in today’s business.

And, if you have any thoughts, leave me a comment. I dare you.

Quite rightly there is increasing amounts of talk about ‘social media’ online. The jury is still out on the real value of some areas of social media and networks, but one area where the value is currently most apparent is using network analysis to help optimise your natural search engine rankings (SEO), largely by identifying suitable sites to get inbound links from.

But what with the internet being so big, and growing so fast, it has been hard to make any practical sense of all the network data available. Recently I came across a tool which showed me the potential power of visualising these relationships…The tool in question is provided by TouchGraph – for example here’s a visualisation map of sites related to based on Google data.

Of course, we can question the credibility and reliability of the actual data source (in this case Google’s related sites data) but I think the visualisation alone is very powerful. Particularly for mere marketing/commercial types like me, rather than data analysts.

It reminds me a little of the (site) web analytics tools and how they progressed and advanced in terms of data visualisation. I remember Site Intelligence’s  VBIS tool being amongst the first to do a good job of visualising traffic flows across an entire website; or Speed-trap’s video replays of user sessions and “heat” clickmaps. People like Visual Sciences are now doing some pretty cool visualisation stuff in the world of web/data analytics.

The point is that visualization itself is an extremely poweful and important part of making data intelligible, useful and actionable. (For further examples, do read Avinash Kaushik’s excellent blog piece “The Awesome Power of Data Visualization“).

It still seems quite early days (outside of web/data analytics as mentioned above) for seeing mature data and visualisation services and products for things like online competitive intelligence and benchmarking, or even link / social network analysis for search engine optimisation. Though we are beginning to see some search agencies develop and even productise such technology e.g. Spannerworks’ Network Sense.

With increasing use of standardised data sets (or, at least, better marked up data) and APIs, I’d be very surprised if there weren’t a rash a new services coming which took interesting data and made it commercially valuable by visualising it in a way which makes it meaningful and actionable.

Indeed, I’m sure they already exist and TouchGraph is just the one I happened to come across.

So I’m interested in hearing from you about other such tools and services that you’ve come across where interesting data and visualization is being brought together to provide you with something useful for your online marketing?

Ashley Friedlein

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Following the success of the first edition of this book published two years ago, this New Edition, now in paperback format, has been updated and includes new data on the main market players (28 companies are described) to reflect the latest changes and developments within the text mining sector.Text Mining is an interdisciplinary field bringing together techniques from data mining, linguistics, information retrieval, and visualization to address the issue of quickly extracting information from large databases with different applicative objectives. This book is directed towards graduate students in business, and undergraduate students in computer science, and to practitioners in law enforcement, security, intelligence, marketing and IT departments; it assumes readers have little or no previous knowledge about mathematics or linguistics. It has been structured as a self-teaching guide and has been written as a result of the authors’ experiences in participating in several large-scale text mining projects. It can be used as a guide for system integrators, and designers of text mining systems, but especially for business analysts and consultants who wish to apply the powerful tools of this technology to real situations.CONTENTS:THEORETICAL OVERVIEW: Text Processing and Information Retrieval; Information Extraction; Text Clustering; Text Categorization; Summarization and Visualization; Application Integration; ROI in Text Mining Projects.APPLICATIONS: Open Sources Analysis for Corporate and Government Intelligence; A Critical Appraisal of Text Mining in an Intelligence Environment; How to Forecast Telecommunications Competitive Landscape; Competitive Intelligence for SMEs: An Application to the Italian Building Sector; Virtual Communities: Human Capital and other Personal Characteristics Extraction; Customer Feedbacks and Opinion Surveys Analysis in the Automotive industry; Email Management System; TV Channel Provider: Mining the User Feedback; Text Mining in Banking; Text Mining in Life Sciences; Information Search and Classification to Foster Innovation in SMEs; Media Industry: How to Improve Documentalists Efficiency; Link Analysisin Crime Pattern Detection; SOFTWARE AND SERVICES: Text Mining Resources. ABOUT THE EDITOR:Alessandro Zanasi is a security research advisor and professor at Bologna University, Italy. Before he served asCarabinieri officer in Rome Scientific Investigations Center; IBM executive in Italy, Paris and San Jose (USA); METAGroup analyst; cofounder of Temis SA.As an intelligence specialist, he has been advising governments and corporations in security, intelligence and detectiontechnologies for more than twenty years. Among the others: European Commission through his membership, since 2005,to ESRAB-European Security Research Advisory Board and, since 2007, to ESRIF-European Security Research andInnovation Forum. AMONG THE 28 AUTHORS:Milic (Microsoft, UK), Pazienza (Univ.Roma,IT), Tiberio (Univ.Modena,IT), Sebastiani (Univ.Padova,IT),Mladenic, Grobelnik (Stefan Institute, SL), Sullivan (Ballston, USA), Politi (Analyst, IT), de’ Rossi (Telecom Italia,IT), Grivel (CNRS, F), Wives, Loh (Univ.Rio Grande, BR), Lebeth (Dresdner Bank, D), Fluck, Gieger (FraunhoferInstitute, D), Peters (Gruner+Jahr, D), Ananyan (Megaputer, USA).Abstract Previex and other info: 1313textminingv207.pdf