Intelligence is key to strategic business decisions

Businesses have a growing need for greater relevance in the intelligence they use to inform critical decision-making. Currently just 18% of professionals responsible for security, risk, or compliance in their organization feel that the intelligence they receive is “very specific and focused on their business”, a S-RM research reveals.

intelligence decision-making

6 in 10 respondents also say the intelligence they receive takes too much time to analyse, meaning it does not always result in better informed decision making. This was the top reason behind dissatisfaction with external intelligence, identified by over 200 professionals working at companies with revenues of over $250 million.

The second most likely reason was that information was not tailored to business needs (47%), followed by too much information (35%).

Global uncertainty drives need for relevance

Growing demand for the use of strategic intelligence has been prompted by increasing cyber (51%) and regulatory concerns (50%). And while these two factors have been climbing the boardroom agenda for years, geopolitical uncertainty has made the need to respond to these developments more acute. In particular, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has created a complex sanctions regime for businesses to operate.

Additionally, navigating the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a key challenge for businesses in the past three years, with 40% citing this as a catalyst in driving a growing need for strategic intelligence.

From security risk to commercial opportunity

Martin Devenish MBE, Head of Corporate Intelligence at S-RM, and his team conducted additional analysis of the findings.

Devenish said: “72% of businesses still see intelligence as security risk management. This is not surprising, considering the siloed role many intelligence teams have historically played in large corporates. This usually focused on monitoring physical risks to operations. But the game has since changed.

“Not only is there more information than ever to sift through – intelligence is taking its rightful place in safeguarding reputation and exploring commercial opportunities. No wonder 55% of those we asked said their intelligence team’s workload will increase over the next five years.

“The question now is, will they be able to make the change in mindset to invest time in getting the right strategic intelligence, rather than convenient, but less valuable, off-the-shelf options?”

Horizon scanning with strategic intelligence

The research found that attitudes are already changing in some companies. Close to 1 in 3 agreed that strategic intelligence is key to both strategic business decisions (34%) and the operational decisions (29%) to which it has historically been applied. Respondents identify multiple areas in which strategic intelligence is used, from public relations, identification of opportunities, and ESG to horizon scanning and market entry.

It is perhaps not surprising that 88% say strategic intelligence is important for the overall performance and success of their company – with 56% believing that companies that don’t effectively deploy strategic intelligence are more likely to fail.

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