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The Reality of Theory – How can we use intelligence analysis models more creatively?

Applying military theories and doctrine to the private sector is nothing new and is often an effective way to mitigate against the ever-changing threat businesses face today. When applied to the security industry, this takes the form of using militaristic analytical tools adapted and applied to meet the needs of clients, rather than commanders. The question is though – how useful are they? The clearest benefit of using the below analytical concepts and models in a private sector context is that they can be adapted to any political, legal and fiscal constraint. Indeed, even the simplest of principles can be rolled out on a scale and at a pace; combined with risk appetite that is wholly owned by clients, this makes for an agile and innovative process.

Added to this, these processes are forged in the fire (recently, at least) of a risk averse culture of accountability – this has meant that the quantitive audit process that underpins intelligence assessment is stronger than ever. Military principles of analysis are adaptable, provide accountability and provide a clear view of the intelligence cycle, as discussed in previous articles. When in expert hands and with the intelligence cycle as a handrail, military principles of analysis can be highly effective, useful tools. One of the most useful, but also most military-specific, models is a Centre of Gravity (COG) analysis. Derived from Clausewitz’s theory that an opponent has a key point that can be attacked, known as the Schwerpunkt. When applied to the private sector, this takes the form of establishing what a company’s aim is and articulating what they’re trying to do. After this has been established, further analysis determines the critical capabilities and requirements that would allow them to achieve their aims, as well as any critical vulnerabilities that can allow the centre of gravity to be targeted. When used creatively, COG analysis can be used far more extensively than its traditional design. These applications include the identification of more critical vulnerabilities through more sophisticated information gathering methods, or comparison of opposing critical vulnerabilities and capabilities in security planning. By the same token, military intelligence gathering practices can be applied to more established forms of business analysis to help provide more bespoke intelligence outputs. Well-established business tools such as SWOT analyses and Critical Path Analysis can be further strengthened when doctrinal principles are applied. In practice, this may mean something such as using a COG analysis of a rival to help inform the ‘opportunities’ section, allowing for a more targeted analysis of how to gain advantage through identifying centres of gravity. Through the use of inductive predictive analysis, we can go further than simply forecasting outcomes of events, but forecast possible outcomes, quantified through the tools such as the Cone of Plausibility or by creating a Probability Yardstick that can give a clear a picture as possible of what the most likely/favourable outcome(s) might be. Both of these models provide tangible, quantifiable information so our clients have a clearer picture of what the intelligence we’re giving them actually means to them. So what? Why apply doctrine to civilian sector intelligence gathering? Ultimately, it provides a far more complete intelligence package to our clients than using simple, ready-made collection and dissemination techniques. Military doctrine has been refined continually for decades, as intelligence becomes more and more crucial in gaining an edge in asymmetric conflicts. In the private sector, increased digital threats have created much the same issue, where in order to protect against both economic threats and their competition, companies need more than just a traditional intelligence product. As with any form of intelligence work, it is crucial that clients put their trust in the processes and methods used, and the people using them. Much the same way that Intelligence Officers need to generate confidence in their commanders, we need to generate confidence in our clients. Adapting analytical tools used by militaries allows us to strike the balance between providing an honest assessment in which nothing is ever certain, but also covering for a range of different outcomes, allowing both us and our clients to prepare contingencies. Military principles of analysis can be hugely effective when used within the private sector. Our intelligence delivery at Kiris Group is guided by the intelligence cycle – that being Direction, Collection, Processing, Dissemination (DCPD). With this as the handrail, we adapt military-centric techniques of information collection and intelligence creation to be applied in industry. Using military models of intelligence analysis provides us with the best tools to carry this out to the highest possible degree of accuracy and accountability, while simultaneously protecting ourselves and our clients. Viewing the private sector as a battlefield has become an ever more fashionable way of working, but when it comes to forming creative, comprehensive intelligence; there really is no better way.

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