What is Company Intelligence? Is it espionage in business? Does it look like GI (Government Intelligence) or MI (Military Intelligence)? Is it legal activity or not? Is it possible to any company to establish its own intelligence program?
Many people all over the world ask these questions and get different answers. It is a paradox. Company intelligence has been in existence for many years (mainly in the form of competitive intelligence) but people still have no single definition for this activity. Generally Company Intelligence may be defined as a systematic and ethical program for gathering, analyzing, and managing information about companies - no difference if it is a competitor or a client.
Not any method of information gathering is useful in company intelligence. The above definition for company intelligence contains word "ethical"; it means that in contrast to espionage, company intelligence operates only with "open" sources of information. "Open source" is a military intelligence term referring to information in the public domain, such as news articles, corporate websites, and databases with unrestricted access. There are many methods of open sources info gathering - Web search, literature search, databases search.