Business Counterintelligence: managerial tool for decision making

The global situation of the competitive environment, the new technologies and the large amount of information available compels decision makers in companies to manage information resources more quickly, strategically and effectively.

This situation has given rise to a new activity in the entity that requires specific professionalization: the expert in the use of information to assess the environment, the competitors, and the technological and market developments relevant to the organization.

In this way we can mention the activities of competitive intelligence and business counterintelligence, which seen from the functional prism are two tools basic management for making strategic.

Competitive Intelligence: obligatory step for decision making.

Competitive intelligence is a method and a process of Insights of the evolution of an economic sector and the Capacities and Behavior of the competition to obtain and maintain the competitive advantage of the company.

This method also includes:

  • Intelligence about competitors.
  • The monitoring of the organizational environment.
  • The global vision of the entity.

This tool can forecast the future of the entity and can be exemplified in studies of trends, markets, target markets, prospective studies, technological surveillance and profiles; allowing to locate the organization in a strategic position in the medium and long term.

Competitive intelligence stages

Competitive intelligence is an informational process that consists of different stages which can be defined in:

Definition of objectives:

In this first stage, the scope is defined, that is, the depth and extent of the intelligence process, it is also defined who the client is, and the degree of involvement that the client has within the process, it must also be clear that the CI is directed to action.

Obtaining the information:

This stage attributes the techniques and ways of obtaining information, whether from internal and external, official and public sources.

Information evaluation:

The degree of credibility of the information obtained is verified, its relevance is determined.

Analysis and interpretation of information:

The contents are analyzed and interpreted in order to give an added value to the information obtained in a more excellent way. If necessary, the information is graphed to find an amount. The model to follow for the location of the data and its use is built.

Competitive Intelligence Communication:

It is about establishing a communication in the system, that is to say if the team is made up of more than one, it is about defining what the communication will be like, by what means, if the machines are going to be connected to the organizational network, requirements are obtained for internal communication and external.

Business Counterintelligence Activities:

The design of countermeasures for the protection of information is carried out, that is, to reduce vulnerabilities and risks that may occur during the competitive intelligence process. Confidentiality, integrity and availability of information should prevail in this regard.

We cannot in any case confuse the competitive intelligence process with industrial espionage, nor as an automated search, much less with something that “guesses facts”, competitive intelligence is analyzed information and sufficient for decision-making, it is a tool rapid and sensitive alert of opportunities and threats to the organization, which always tries to get closer to the reality of the problem and search for effective solutions.

This process, once recognized and accepted by the entire organization, integrates its results into processes, of decision in the company, both tactical and strategic. The purpose of the CI is to contribute significantly to increase and make available for use by decision-makers of a type of knowledge about the external environment of the company.

Some specific products of Competitive Intelligence are: Competitor Profile, Competitive Maps, Analysis Market reaction, Benchmarking, Intelligence on foreign markets (IMEX) and the construction of Competitive Intelligence systems.

Business counterintelligence as a protection activity in the entity.

In the current competitive environment in which organizations are increasingly launching to implement the Business Intelligence process, business or Competitive counterintelligence, also called Defensive Intelligence, arises and develops. This activity covers information and activities related to the protection of information and secrecy about the organization's intelligence activities.

The efforts of hostile competitors to penetrate their own security includes the type of information that is needed, their techniques, procedures, and equipment for collecting the information.

Sayan exposes that Business counterintelligence are
All those measures of a passive or active nature carried out by a public or private company to avoid the actions of Business Intelligence or the adversary against them.

On the other hand, Comai argues that business counterintelligence is nothing more than "those activities aimed at protecting the intellectual property that underpins the competitive stability of an organization and the prevention of hostile actions by parties to potential contenders."

These authors expose similar concepts regarding this management tool reflected in keywords synonymous with preventing, protecting, detecting, facing hostile actions, these actions may be actions of competitive intelligence exceeding legal frameworks or of people such as employees angry with the organization or defectors against. Business counterintelligence is nothing more than those activities aimed at protecting people, information, documents and property of the company or organization.

The company may use certain intelligence and consequently business counterintelligence functions. Both are management functions based on the management information and seek the competitiveness of the company directly influencing decision-making.

Fundamental activities of Business Counterintelligence

Comai analyzes Business Counterintelligence from three fundamental activities:


It studies the countermeasures that a company must adopt to totally reduce its vulnerabilities or weaknesses, as well as the risk that the information can be easily obtained by the potential interested party (external or internal). The actions performed by security can be grouped into four classes and are about:

  • the staff
  • The physical infrastructure of the company
  • The technological and / or computer system
  • Informational processes (information flows)

These four security areas are not mutually exclusive and can be applied in all organizations.

In the specific case of information security, that is, in informational processes, it must be taken into account that the information must be categorized according to the degree of damage that is in the hands of competitors or other interested parties that it could cause to the organization. The degree of damage caused determines "sensitivity".


It refers to the detection and verification activity of the means and techniques that competitors and other organizations usually employ for information retrieval. Knowing the techniques of the competitors it is possible to act in the event that there are situations that threaten the internal security of the entity.

Disappointment or misinformation:

It refers to the communication of "false" news or the making of false leads so that the competitor interprets the signals incorrectly and constructs an erroneous image about the critical issues watched by the competitor. Some authors define the communications or actions that finally are not fulfilled with the name of "bluffs".

In this case, a key element for the company that uses this activity is to hide its real interests and maintain a very high level of protection, that is, to block its real communication channels and that there are no contradictions in the alleged activity of the company. same. Disappointment has a more ambitious goal, and that is to lead competitors to another path, for example: in a period of time that requires making quick decisions, disappointment could play a key role in organizational strategy, thus being extremely effective.

So far it is evident that Security, Counterintelligence and Disappointment or Misinformation are three indispensable actions in the counterintelligence process, if these actions are carried out successfully, it is possible that the counterparty remains oblivious to the entity's internal situation.

Counterintelligence in the Latin American business environment.

In the Latin American business environment there are three economic political elements that qualify the emergence of business counterintelligence and force its continuous development, these can be summarized as follows:

  • The need to defend against hostile actions, both the one generated by unfair competition and the one that is a direct consequence of a policy of economic war imposed by historically aggressive governments, starting from the premise that economic activity is an inherent activity in the first order.
  • The prospects for the development of business intelligence as something that can be seen in the efforts of the competing entities to boost activity, and for the interest shown by the entrepreneurs themselves on the subject.
  • The actions of real competition that currently exists between companies, some of them with the capacity to carry out or contract business intelligence services.

In conclusion, it can be said that the role of competitive intelligence has been highlighted in recent years, coupled with current technological development. In this sense, business intelligence and counterintelligence are managerial functions that support decision-making.


  • Sayan Gómez Jorge. Intelligence specialist. University of Madrid, 2002.
  • Comai, Alessandro. Counterintelligence. PUZZLE: Hispanic Magazine of Competitive Intelligence. Madrid. Vol. 7. September_ October, 2003. pp 2_5. electronic version.
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