Human Sources for Competitive Intelligence Part 3

Authored bycascade

A Three-Part Framework for Culling the Herd to Find the Right Humans

To add to the positive results of deeper human intelligence in your analyses, you will want to identify additional people to interview. Open source intelligence (Web searching) is a good place to start, which will lead to an expanding set of possibilities, such as speakers at conferences, industry analysts, and other influencers within the community.

In fact, a thorough investigation is likely to identify more sources than you can actually pursue individually. Therefore, it is valuable to prioritize which potential interviewees to contact first; that effort can be aided by the AEP framework, an acronym for the following factors:

  1. Accessibility. Even though it may not be a disqualifying factor, you should consider the fact that sources such as those high in their organizations may be difficult to reach, which can add to timeframe requirements. Conversely, sales staff at a competitor are a good example of people that you would love to interview, but who are particularly unlikely to talk to you (not to mention that you probably don’t want to tip them off about your efforts that target their company).
  2. Experience. There is no substitute for ensuring that the people you interview have the expertise needed to add value to your analysis. Sometimes, you will find seemingly valuable contacts who are very willing to give you some of their time, but they are actually not very experienced in the matter at hand. For example, they may be pursuing self-promotion as they try to foster influence in the industry, in which case they may intentionally suggest that they have more insight in a subject area than they really do.
  3. Perspective. Before you have a conversation with someone, it’s good to have an idea of their perspective. Do they seek to be unbiased and objective, or are they a self-proclaimed fanboi? Both perspectives are important, but if you talk to fanbois, you should also make a point to talk to “haters” too.

This is the conclusion of a three-part series of blog entries related to human intelligence gathering. The first entry, “Three Insights from People Needing (Intelligent) People,”explains the overall process, while the second part, “Three Ways to Break the Silence and Get the Ball Rolling,”provides some ways to break the inertia and initiate a human-intelligence effort.

By Sean Campbell
By Scott Swigart

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