Good information is the basis of good decisions. This is particularly the case in business where timely intelligence often makes the difference between a desirable and wholly desirable outcome.
Many large companies set aside budgets for “market research” as an activity in its own right. These companies know that information is the key to severely reducing or eliminating, risk in an uncertain business environment. For without the right information, we assume the answers we seek, rather than know them.
Novels and television deceptions are responsible for portraying private detectives and other investigators as dirty raincoats, spending their time following people and interviewing suspects. Some investigators still do that, but most do not.
Commercial intelligence agencies very rarely use physical surveillance, as the pool of other resources they can draw on is inevitably more effective or appropriate to the type of assignments they are usually given.
The potency of the resources available to today’s intelligence agencies are almost unimaginable. In this age of rapidly advanced electronic spy satellites, miniature-tracking attachments, electronic surveillance devices and a myriad of (theoretically secure) computer records, physical surveillance is virtually obsolete. And the more “evolved” the agency is in accessing and manipulating its resources’, the more complex the cases it can (and does) solve. So efficiently, in fact that most of the top ten intelligence agencies in the UK achieve a 90-95% per cent success rate, even on very complex cases. And that is no exaggeration.
Another misconception is that commercial intelligence is simply a fancy word for collating public information and regurgitating it in an other format. Some companies do that, but reputable one do not.
Real commercial Intelligence is about obtaining information that is specifically targeted and acquired to meet the specific requirements of the intelligence agencies client. This is probably information that the target has taken steps to hide. Hide because the information is inevitably incriminating, for one reason or another.
Therefore skilled intelligence utilises proven techniques and resources to circumvent the security and “red tape” often preventing the obtaining of that information by other parties. But that’s not all. A prerequisite of professional intelligence means operating without leaving ”footprints”. In other words an attribute of a proper intelligence agency is the professional discretion used to ensure the target is completely unaware that the “game” is up.
This not only protects the clients anonymity, it also ensures the clients options remain open, resulting in superior risk management. The mark of a clear thinking and competent organisation. It is unfortunate that companies only use defensive “ intelligence” when a crisis arises.
This is almost entirely due to the lack of awareness of what the CIA (Commercial Intelligence Agency) is fully capable of. Furthermore, there is a similar lack of awareness of the extent to which an intelligence agency can contribute to the quality of the feedback a company needs to make better-informed decisions on reoccurring specific issues. As a result of their evolution in the investigations field, CIA’s can, therefore, provide a multiple of very important services beyond the perceived constraints of electronic and physical surveillance. Intelligence nowadays is a completely different game to the one played a few years ago. Even television and cinema depictions cannot capture the full flavour of what is now possible.
WHAT ELSE CAN A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR DO?
The information provided in this article will enlighten you to the many more options available for use in circumstances where you need covert business intelligence for one reason or another:
Example applications of this new knowledge include, (but are not restricted to):
1) Screening undesirable candidates for employment who might otherwise slip the net using standard interview techniques.
2) Monitoring existing employees suspect of disloyalty. There is more to this than just the use of electronic surveillance. Electronic surveillance may be inappropriate in the circumstances, or inefficient where combinations of other resources and/or techniques are more appropriate.
3) Knowing the pros and cons of the different types of electronic surveillance equipment on the market. This is useful for internal applications, as well as protecting information or assets from external threats.
The finer details of what a particular individual or company has done, is now doing or planning to do. There are many types of electronic surveillance. A specialist agency will advise the best combination of equipment for the objectives.
4) Diligently establishing the bona fides of new companies or individuals to which or to whom you intend to grant credit. This does not necessarily incur delay in doing business. Pre-qualification is often seen as vital to ensure there are no unpleasant future surprises. Companies who have gone through this experience will know the situation well and the consequences of not doing their homework properly.
5) Pre-litigation (or post litigation) asset assessment and identification. There are many other legal and business applications:
- Obtaining statements and proofs of evidence
- Financial investigations and asset searching
- The tracing of witnesses
- Process and relative Affidavits
- Litigation support
- Investigations into the character and antecedents of individuals
- Bona fides of business concerns
- Detailed “locus quo” sketch plans and photography
- Personal injury and accident investigations
- Criminal defence investigations
6) Location of witness, debtors and other elusive individuals or companies.
7) Help with strategic and other planning for example timely intelligence can help:
- i) To identify new areas of business opportunity already served by direct competitors. (And why these areas have been targeted by these competitors).
- ii) To expand your list of customers by seeing who buys from your competitors. (And why).
iii) To acquire financial details on competitors, not publicly available (Indicating the most profitable and/or growth areas of interest).
- iv) To acquire dossier material on target companies and/or individuals who work in them. Dossier material is often used to check out prospective business partners or for conducting more in depth research on companies seeking venture capital or loans. As the individuals running such companies are often crucial to these companies’ futures, they are also often subjects of (covertly complied “background check” dossiers).
- v) For head hunting purposes.
- vi) To win a competitive tender or auction.
vii) To ascertain how your purchasing prices compare to those of your competitors. And if there are any discrepancies in your efficiency why and what can be done to improve matters.)
viii) To fight off a hostile take over, or use intelligence to make the most of an acquisition or merger.
Many companies recognise the benefits of the above in cutting down time and cost by exploiting the often-expensive research done by others.
That is why, if you have information that somebody else wants, you could be targeted as an economical collection source for that information. There are numerous ways to penetrate the standard security of most companies. There is an abundance of examples of this in the real world.
This is not to say that commercial intelligence is always synonymous with industrial espionage. It is not. Commercial Intelligence is usually directed at penetrating “ the system” that protects guilty parties from the wrongs they have caused their “prey”(E.g.: Identifying and proving the connections fraudsters, thieves and debtors have with their “anonymous” offshore companies and banks, in an attempt to hide their ill-gotten gains).
8) Due diligence for take-overs, acquisitions and other circumstances where a lot is at stake.” Extended Due Diligence”)
Discreet checks into areas not possible or matters not disclosed by the subject through conventional due diligence agendas. (Applies to either individuals or companies).
Again it is a question of either being more thorough, to ensure no shocks later on, or checking a story to filter out misrepresentation or dishonesty, so common nowadays. Needles to say that discretion should be the watchword of any professional agency in any investigative work.
9) Identifying the suppliers of the grey product importers.
10) Awareness of the professional techniques of physical surveillance, and how to avoid being tailed by experts. Did you know that almost all-professional surveillance is conducted not by individuals, but by teams of several operatives, all in covert radio communication with one another? (Surveillance is conducted this way to ensure that the same person or car is never spotted behind you on more than one occasion and that the chances of losing you are minimised).