Corporate Intelligence in a Vacuum
Washington, DC. May 5th, 2005 ---- On regular occasions I meet the Corporate Intelligence Managers of major US corporations. Some I wonder if they are old enough to drink alcohol in the Press Club Bar and some, the ex military, CIA and FBI, I wonder if they have Polaroid's of the boss in order to keep their jobs.
One factor I do find disturbing is that many treat Washington as a "cool" city to visit, especially for conferences, but having little influence in their corporate work. Many private intelligence companies, charging their clients an arm and a leg in fees, don't even have representation in DC, nor have anyone on the "Schmooze" circuit to find out what is really coming down the pipeline. They write long reports after the events and explain why their clients lost their shirt. They do not explain their negligence in not forseeing the events, and not asking discrete questions before their clients had their nasty surprise.
In the good old days politicians followed a clearly defined code of public service. Today they seek to maximize their earnings, and further a narrow ideological agenda within their years of office. There are few top politicians who retire broke these days. Consider the Clinton's wealth today, against what it was when he declared he could not pay his legal bills.
With that in mind the influence on corporate fortunes should be apparent. If the flood of water is with your corporate plans, you will be swept along. If they are against them, you will be smashed backwards, even on to the rocks. The politicians can either generate smooth water, or raging seas and crashing waves.
Alas the number crunching analysts tend to overlook that China and India, even Mexico and Canada, can turn very quickly from great places to do business to hellholes to avoid, on the statements and decisions in DC. The idea that there will be advance notice to the analysts thousands of miles away is a flight of fancy. The disinformation being generated here in DC has reached epic proportions. Their lies are even being believed by the politicians themselves, such are the financial benefits to the key policymakers and awarders of lucrative contracts.
Business Intelligence Software can only analyze events that have occurred. It may project future figures on the basis of past events, even historical trends. It can't take into consideration hidden agendas, ideological maneuvers, hairbrained schemes, and pay offs for undisclosed favors.
It can't take into consideration political bias, geographical bias and plain old fashioned bribes that color intelligence advice to corporations. It can't see the big lucrative contracts to government departments to "flavor" the intelligence to make it palatable to the subscribers, and worst of all the analysts don't know who is getting paid to seed the media with fake stories by the Administration. Some journalists and radio talk show hosts are being paid large sums to push agendas and misleading statements. Using corporate intelligence analysis based on that material, strategically spread across the internet, TV, radio and print can cost a corporation dearly.
I will not exclude journalists and reporters (there is a difference) from criticism. The salaries paid to most journalists is peanuts. Their life expectancy is short as there is a constant flow of young bright and eager graduates to fill their shoes, in a shrinking world of media. The number of young influential reporters who move on to work for the people, politicians and corporations they cover is a serious concern. The pay back can be quite substantial, many times their journalists salary. They emulate the politicians who have operated a revolving door scenario for years.
But to operate a corporate intelligence strategy, without an independent source of information from Washington and the relevant State capitals is a recipe for disaster. That independent source does not include the lobbyists. They report whatever increases their revenue stream, and never criticize their own strategy and direction.
Hey corporate CEO's it's your money to waste. The politicians, of every party, will help you waste it. When you go bust some one else will take your place, and you know what, they don't care!