What [Insert random Company] did is not CI!

I was in a meeting yesterday preparing a promo-video for a sales conference. Funnily enough I have a very good looking hand and was picked to film said hand, pushing a big, shiny, red button.

While this is hardly riveting stuff, the conversation I had with one of the “creative agency” types in tow for the filming, was very telling.

Creative type: So what part of the business are you in?

Me: I look after our competitive programs here.

Creative type: Nice, so all that cloak and dagger stuff?

Me: No, to be honest it’s just helping our sales guys know how to sell more effectively and understand what the competition’s likely to throw at us.

Creative type: Ohh, but surely with all that technology people could be bugging board rooms and stuff like that.

It was at this stage I got a little irate, but this is not the first time (or the last) I’ll have this conversation with someone as I’m sure many of you do also.

So when I see stories like the updated corporate espionage storm on news.com, I know exactly the types of comments and assumptions that will be made regarding this type of activity and CI.

For the record: Corporate espionage is illegal, CI is the ethical gathering of intelligence.

This has been covered to death by better analysts than myself but if you’re looking to arm yourself with some good discussion points the next time some one asks you if you have a phone in your shoe or own a Aston Martin here are some good rebuttals to the whole “cloak and dagger” perception.

Ultimately it’s up to you to change people’s perception of our industry. Intelligence gathering is not about silver bullets that will magically make your company more successful, but the analysis of competitive trends and activities that provide insight and actionable recommendations to your key stakeholders.

In the meantime, I’m off to write to the Screen Actors Guild……

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