Empowering insight: The role of collaboration in the evolution of intelligence practice

Craig Fleisher, Rostyk Hursky

SA Journal of Information Management, Vol 18, No 2,  a731

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v18i2.731

© 2016 Craig Fleisher, Rostyk Hursky  This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0

Submitted: 08 December 2015 | Published: 30 August 2016



Background: Though subtle through the years, there has been a perceptible shift in competitive and market intelligence (CMI) practice from that of relying more heavily on sole operators to ones relying on collaboration. It happens within the nature of work performed inside intelligence functions, the larger organisation, and between organisations (i.e., intra-organisational). In this paper, the authors describe the change, develop a three-layered taxonomy for documenting it,and provide examples of how it impacts intelligence practice both now and possibly in the future.

Objective: To describe the increasingly evident role of collaboration and collaborative behaviour within insight producing functions in commercial, market-facing organisations. Identify evidence of collaborative intelligence practices in use across a range of different companies, industries, and geographies.

Method: The authors used a participant observation approach to developing this research. The discussion and frameworks in this study are based upon the authors’ current roles, experiences and observations in leading a CMI group for a successful provincially based yet globally focused research and technology organisation, and having led interactive workshops and courses for over 100 organisations and approximately 1800 CMI analysts in over a dozen countries.

Results: The authors identified an impressive array of collaborative practices for each of the three layers of organisational environments studied. These included ones in (1) intra-process (aka, intelligence cycle) collaboration, (2) intra-organisational collaboration (i.e. within the intelligence and broader organisation) and (3) inter-organisational collaboration (i.e. between discrete organisations). These are illustrated from actual, observed, and ongoing CMI practices and are shared as examples reinforcing our view of the movement away from independent practices and approaches toward purposeful, socialised ones.

Conclusion: The evidence we have amassed provides substantial evidence of a notable and beneficial shift from doing intelligence work independently, frequently within silos, towards doing it collaboratively and across multiple types of boundaries. Intelligence practitioners are growing in their capabilities by taking advantage of emerging technologies, adapting practices imported from adjacent fields and benefitting from academic and/or scholarly research that helps push ahead the working boundaries of the field and allows it to make progress. In our view, CMI practice has recently entered a third era of evolution, one in which collaboration will continue to feature prominently, if not centrally.