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intelligence (intel)

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Intelligence, in the military and other contexts including business and security, is information that provides an organization with decision support and possibly a strategic advantage. The term is sometimes shortened to “intel.”

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines intelligence as “information that has been analyzed and refined so that it is useful to policymakers in making decisions.” According to the Bureau, intelligence is both the information itself and the processes used to collect and analyze it. Intelligence is used similarly in a number of other areas of endeavor that have adopted the term.

Business intelligence (BI) is a category of tools, applications and methodologies that enable organizations to collect data from internal systems and external sources, prepare it for analysis, develop and run queries against the data, and create reports, dashboards and data visualizations to make the analytical results available to corporate decision makers as well as operational workers.

Competitive intelligence (CI) is publicly-available information about an enterprise's competitors, the process of gathering that information and its use to guide decision-making to gain a business advantage. 

Business counterintelligence (business CI), on the other hand, is the collective efforts designed to protect an organization’s sensitive information from unauthorized access and the  processes and tools used to assist in those efforts.  To some extent, the purpose of business counterintelligence is thwarting the competitive intelligence efforts of other companies related to your business.

Actionable intelligence is information that can be acted upon, with the further implication that actions should be taken.

Security intelligence (SI) is likewise both the information relevant to protecting an organization from external and inside threats as well as the processes, policies and tools designed to gather and analyze that information.

Risk intelligence (RQ) is the ability of an organization to gather information that will successfully identify uncertainties in the workplace.

This was last updated in February 2015

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