During the past decade, many corporate security divisions have made tremendous strides to evolve as a key component of their company's organizational strategy and growth.
Whether a company's security program is in-house, outsourced or a hybrid of both, the leading global security executives and decision-makers are acutely aware of how to effectively leverage the resource capabilities of intelligence professionals within their organization.
Security leaders should consider these five top reasons why intelligence professionals should be embedded into their security program:
Aristotle once said: "The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts." Intelligence professionals possess valuable tacit knowledge and abilities that can assist security divisions with building synergies across the different business lines and functions within an organization.
For example, the head of operations and other business heads at Company X are considering expanding manufacturing operations into Latin America.
A feasibility study quickly ensues and Company X ultimately decides to expand into the new market because of its cost savings, profit margin potential, above average labor standards and excellent track record with other U.S. firms that previously expanded operations there.
A risk intelligence analyst gets wind of Company X's expansion plans and spends a few days deciphering and analyzing data from a wide array of sources regarding Company X's target market. The analyst produces a concise risk intelligence report and submits it to their boss. The report concludes that entry into the new market is too risky due to burgeoning political instability which would inevitably lead to escalating violence.
The analyst also provides strong supporting evidence that the country has a history of seizing foreign businesses when their governments become unstable and offers alternative markets that would still be financially beneficial for Company X in the long-term.
The intelligence report is well received, but it also proves to be a learning moment for the Head of Operations and other business heads while showing the capabilities of the security division. This strategically places them in a more proactive posture as they are invited to have more input in helping to design organizational strategy going forward.
The success of a company's Corporate Security Division is dependent upon its ability to respond swiftly to impending threats. Failure to do so could result in catastrophic losses in the millions.
As key drivers of the security function, embedded analysts play a key role in developing actionable intelligence for the security team. The security team typically doesn't have the luxury of time or the unique competencies to collect, analyze and synthesize vast amounts of information and distribute it in a meaningful way to help leaders make sound decisions.
Take, for example, a corporate executive who needs to fly out on a moment's notice on an emergency business trip to one of the company’s major global supply chain operations in Kazakhstan. They will require more than just the standard off-the-shelf situational report from his security team.
Rather, an intelligence analyst would need to provide the executive with a comprehensive situational awareness and travel risk assessment report tailored to their travel. The report would highlight key areas such as the current overall threat environment and whether there are any geopolitical or business risks and how that could impact their core business.
Talented intelligence analysts can respond quickly to these unexpected events and produce timely and accurate intelligence reporting that entails a 360-degree analytical review of the country's risk profile and any potential operational impact to the business.
- Identify Gaps
Effective security leaders must demonstrate a fair amount of finesse in their approach to managing risks. They must make accurate and timely decisions and advise senior leaders on potential business risks of critical importance. They must do so while ensuring that their security policies and recommendations are crafted and implemented in a manner that does not disrupt business operations. Unfortunately, security teams don't always get it right, and sometimes mistakes occur.
Experienced intelligence professionals can help security divisions with developing accurate forecasting models by identifying intelligence gaps that are critical to the various business lines of a company. In other words, if you have sufficient data on a particular area or subject, then where are you deficient?
Let’s say your security team completed an updated risk assessment of a relatively stable country, home to one of its Southeast Asia operations. The assessment suggested that all indicators were in the low- to medium-risk range to operations.
However, while reviewing the risk assessment an analyst discovered that the country's geopolitical risk profile was lacking vital information regarding a pending election that was rumored to cause heavy political instability. The newly discovered gap helped the organization to revamp its security strategy and implement the requisite safeguards to prevent disruption of business operations.
- Diverse Skill Sets
Adept Intelligence professionals have fundamental analytical skills that can make an immediate impact to an organization's security division. However, the best security divisions employ embedded analysts that can draw upon their expertise to improve the team’s intelligence capabilities.
For example, an analyst that is an expert on a particular region of the world will produce superior intelligence reporting than a generalist practitioner.
Perhaps the analyst had the opportunity to live abroad and became fluent in the language. These are invaluable skill sets that cannot be ignored. Some analysts may have superior computer programming skills and have the capability to write programs that could streamline efficiencies for a security division thus saving them money.
Security executives must set their priorities on attaining the highest return on their investment when building a global intelligence team.
Intelligence professionals with dual specialties in software programming, data analytics, cybersecurity, foreign languages and business are just a few of the highly desirable skills that security executives should be keenly reviewing when considering which prospective candidates would be the right fit for their program.
Distributing intelligence on a threat that has already occurred or that is untimely holds no benefit to key stakeholders and decision makers. Every day, many companies are vulnerable to billions of dollars in losses due to unforeseen threats. The need for developing and disseminating predictive intelligence are primary factors in a company’s ability to stay ahead of emerging threats that may hamper their bottom line.
Risk intelligence platforms which incorporate robust machine learning and data analytic tools coupled with the keen eye of an intelligence analyst will help to enhance situational awareness for your security division and equip them with the capability to respond rapidly to emerging threats.
This is an area that cannot be overstated enough. The strongest security teams of the future will implement augmented intelligence programs (the combination of human and artificial intelligence) into their platforms.
This is an added dimension for intelligence analysts as it will improve their ability to supply decision makers with faster and more accurate real-time and predictive intelligence. Security executives that embrace these emerging platforms, coupled with experienced intelligence analysts in their security architecture, will make the security program extremely valuable to their companies.
Leveraging Intelligence Effectively is an Art
There is no one-size fits all approach to leveraging talented intelligence professionals into your security program.
Security leaders must give careful considerations to budgets. Should the intelligence function be designated as a full-time position, outsourced, or a combination of both? The intelligence function will also be shaped by the level of involvement security leader’s play in helping to formulate organizational strategic objectives.
Building a high-performing security team will require an in-depth resource and capability analysis of your security architecture in helping to guide your selection of the best intelligence professionals with the right blend of complementary skills for your program.