Chris J Powell

Information Ecology and Competitive Intelligence

There is no disputing that Sun Tzu was a master at defining the axioms of war that have stood the test of time and still ring true today. War like business is about acting first, hitting hard and at the end of the day not just surviving but building a better tomorrow.  So how can we apply the concepts of Information Ecology and Competitive Intelligence into a world that is changing so rapidly?  How can this become the new standard by which IT and Technology Specialists truly add value to the businesses that they support?

“Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” – Sun Tzu 

For IT Professionals who are challenged daily by the constant barrage of change requests and project planning/implementation looking beyond today is often not only a challenge…it is a near impossibility.  In preparing for my post today…I went looking for some content to support my thought that if there was a way to build a better focus that aligns both the Strategic Goals of the company with the abilities and strengths of the IT Department (regardless of size) then there would be a true use case for building a new Ecology that would support the end game of Competitive Intelligence.

The reality is…for most companies, there is just not enough hours in the day to strike this balance.  I once again look back to Sun Tzu for inspiration:

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu

Building an Information or Knowledge Ecology is about building the systems necessary to support the decision making of all business functions.  The capabilities are now available to push the power of Business Intelligence right down to the individual and not only to the Senior Department Leadership.  This empowerment is not only a requirement, it is a necessity to remain competitive in the rapidly changing business environment we operate in today.

In my humble opinion, I see Competitive Intelligence as a way for me as a Sales Professional to better understand what my customers are going through every day.  I scour the internet for the same types of information they are looking for…and the reality is…many of them turn to me for the answer now as readily as they turn to Google (which says something about my abilities and the tools that I have employed).  The reality is though, much of the expense (time and resources) has been put forward by myself to better enable myself to support, focus and grow with my clients.

Building a foundation of an Information Ecology is not impossible, nor does it have to be radically expensive.  I was able to locate a great research paper by Yogesh Malhotra titled Information Ecology and Knowledge Management and in stumbling around the interwebz for supporting information…I had an aha moment when I found a interesting walk through of the concept of Information Literacy by Jela Steinerová.

The more that I understand the theories behind the building of accessible and focused information gathering and sharing the more that I see the future as very interesting indeed. Will I ever reach a maximum capacity for cramming new information into my head…well I do have taken a bit of a sabatical to really find out if there is a capacity to my learning…it is time to start preparing for the next stage in my career…what ever that may be so we shall see what comes next.  In the mean time, find the balance between Tactics of today and Strategy of tomorrow.



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