By Al Bowman, Risk Sensing Lead, Deloitte

Decision making is an integral part of life. The busier we get, the less opportunity we have to create the time, space and capacity to self-inform the decision making process. There are different techniques we can adopt to narrow the number or complexity of decisions that have to be made, for example, Mark Zuckerburg famously limits his choice of what to wear in order to maintain some capacity for more important decisions.

The busier and more responsible the job, the more our decision making capacity is challenged by having to make decisions on more complex issues.  President Obama suggested he never had to make an easy decision; by the time an issue was brought to him for resolution, it was already a difficult decision - otherwise it would already have been resolved. 

In business, the connected, complex, and congested nature of the global operating environment means there is no longer a single source of information that can provide an enduring competitive advantage. Siloed information reporting to a single business function can no longer be a justifiable use of resources. But can we be sure of making ethical and compliant decisions that deliver shareholder value without understanding to the best of our abilities the environment in which we are making them?

Combining intelligence gathered from across business units/themes and measuring it against the profile and exposure of an organisation can result in an intelligence picture which is greater than the sum of its parts, and upon which informed decisions can be made, threats mitigated and opportunities exploited. This is the power of intelligence fusion. Fused intelligence enables you to interpret your environment and weigh up likely scenarios and outcomes and leads to doing the right thing rather than merely doing things right; not knowing is no longer a defence. Current internal intelligence models are generally out of date for the following reasons:

  • They haven’t kept pace with the myriad changes to the operating environment, be that regulatory, geopolitical, ethical or social.
  • The proliferation of technical solutions and a near-obsession with the power of big data have clouded the need to frame what questions are being asked of it in the first place.
  • Access to appropriate subject matter experts in a timely manner to provide depth to the insights has become more difficult to acquire.

Of particular interest is the progress being made in ‘Social Intelligence’. The recent political shocks of Brexit and the US elections have focussed attention on the ability of organisations to really listen to what the public (or their customer base) is saying and how they are responding to the on-going conversation. C-suite executives now need to be social intelligence conversant and be able to both listen to and influence social conversations to maintain an understanding of their markets, risk-exposures and to stay connected to their customers. 

By using techniques and processes such as ‘activity heat-mapping’, tracking social media activity related to a particular brand, company or individual and sentiment analysis; exploitation of social intelligence can open up a huge range of non-traditional sources of information creating a powerful indication of near-real-time activity and allowing an organisation to influence the audience in a more meaningful way.

Traditionally, businesses have sought to gather intelligence around cyber risks, geo-political risks and of course by using data-analytics techniques. The real power of intelligence fusion is to bring these often siloed streams together. When combined with the additional requirement to add in social intelligence, the task can seem incredibly daunting.  How will you respond to this challenge? We are creating systems to address and support clients effectively.

To discuss any of the above or if you have any ideas or interest around intelligence please contact Al Bowman.  


Al Bowman, Senior Manager, Deloitte

Al Bowman is developing a suite of risk sensing/intelligence fusion propositions to support the decision making process within organisations. Al’s last military job was commanding officer of the British Army’s Intelligence Fusion Centre responsible for the enabling the prioritisation and leading on the coordination and delivery of global intelligence and security risk advice to the Army.

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  • Some very interesting points made in the article. With the increasing number of platforms that are available in the OS domain it becomes proportionally difficult to gauge any brand reach and that doesn't account for dark or deep parts of the web. The 'activity heat-mapping' referred to sounds like a useful technique to have in your analytical tool bag. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by: John Keogh on 31/01/2017

  • Great post Al. Particularly like your comment about the importance of framing the question - as opposed to endless analysis of data in the hope that it will somehow magically give us an answer to a question that we haven't even defined. And of course this means a Board needs to be closely involved in its own Knowledge Management processes if it is to make informed decisions based on relevant analysis. Good luck with the new venture.

    Posted by: Tom C-S on 29/01/2017

  • Take note of Al's views on Intelligence Fusion in enabling better Decision Making. His experience in this field is second to none. His development of risk sensing/intelligence fusion propositions to support organisational decision making is really well supported by this excellent article.

    Colonel Jon Murray
    36 years experience in Military Intteigence

    Posted by: Jon Murray on 29/01/2017

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