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23 MAY 2022

Findings of new research show the growing importance of good intelligence in driving strategic decisions in a fast-moving and turbulent world.

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 organisation feel that the intelligence they receive is “very specific and focused on their business”.

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 USD $250 million.

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

These findings were part of research conducted by the intelligence and risk consultancy S-RM. The company is dedicated to helping businesses ‘cut through the noise’ to find actionable intelligence which helps leadership teams to do smarter business, quicker.

 

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.

Martin 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 more than half (56%) believing that companies that don’t effectively deploy strategic intelligence are more likely to fail.

As testament to this trend, S-RM has launched a dedicated Strategic Intelligence practice as part of its Corporate Intelligence offer, to complement its existing practices and meet evolving client demands for actionable intelligence to play an increasingly central role in critical decision making.

 

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Defining strategic intelligence

The term ‘strategic intelligence’ relates to the gathering and analysis of large and complex external issues that can have a significant impact on the business, such as (geo)political, security, regulatory, or legislative changes, conflicts, competitor developments, etc.

Strategic intelligence services may be provided within the business or by external consultants/sources.

 

About the research

The research was conducted by Opinium, surveying 205 respondents who have responsibility for or consume strategic intelligence in companies of more than USD 250m turnover. There were at least 100 respondents from each the UK and the US. The fieldwork was conducted between 21st March – 1st April 2022. Opinium is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

 

About S-RM

S-RM is a global intelligence and cyber security consultancy. Founded in 2005, we have 250+ experts and advisors across seven international offices. Headquartered in London, we have offices in Cape Town, Utrecht, Hong Kong, New York, Rio, and Washington DC.

Visit the Strategic Intelligence practice page to find out how S-RM can help with your strategic intelligence needs

S-RM is a global risk consultancy providing intelligence, resilience and response solutions to clients worldwide. To discuss this article or other industry developments, please reach out to one of our experts.

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Intelligent Business 2022 Strategic Intelligence Report

The evolution of strategic intelligence in the corporate world. Read S-RM's latest report.

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