The Differences Between Market, Business and Strategic Intelligence

This is an interesting interview with Ivo Maassen, Market Intelligence Manager at Sappi Europe SA, one of the largest paper manufacturers in the world.

He talks about the distinctions between different forms of intelligence, namely market, strategic and business intelligence.

While not exactly the same, market intelligence and marketing intelligence are very closely related fields. Marketing intelligence is specifically aimed at implementing/improving marketing strategies, which in turn requires an excellent knowledge of the market (or markets) in which a business operates.

As he sees it:

As he correctly stresses, often these terms are open to personal interpretation and the lines between them can become blurred, perhaps reflecting the very fact that they are inherently intertwined.

He also makes clear that it's incredibly difficult for anyone to pursue such intelligence activities alongside their normal job duties, due to time constraints and other skill requirements. As such, having a dedicated intelligence team can substantially help a company when it comes to generating desirable intelligence.

What is further interesting is his evaluation that intelligence is essentially about seeing the 'big picture' (which I would certainly describe as strategic), and bringing people out of their own isolated bubbles. Intelligence can and should be integrated into the very fabric of a company, rather than having it as yet another compartmentalised division.

In terms of communicating those insights/intelligence to senior decision-makers he mentions that Sappi sends out bi-weekly newsletters/intelligence reports while also holding more valuable interactive sessions with senior staff. As he rightfully states, the communication of such knowledge is often one of the most critical steps in the entire intelligence process, given that it can ultimately determine the end-result of all intelligence efforts.

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