The Importance of Intelligence Analysis in Modern Security

21 May 2021
The importance of intelligence analysis in modern security

Intelligence analysis is a vital tool of modern security and many people may be unaware of the key role it plays. The aim of intelligence analysis is to conduct a detailed review of information collected in order to make informed decisions.

Today, the threat landscape is changing. In an evolving world, understanding how criminals operate in increasingly complex ways is key to making informed decisions about security.

Gathering, querying and analysing data is a specialist skill within any industry, and that’s why intelligence analysis is now more important than ever before.

Intelligence has a crucial role to play in modern security as it enables analysts to identify threats through the use of numerous data sources and techniques.

Law Enforcement, Local Authorities, Government departments and private companies employ experienced analysts who execute their tasks by collecting and analysing data; using it to make decisions that will prevent any possible crime or security incidents from occurring. It can also be used to learn from and be better informed about industry competitors.

Intelligence analysts often interpret large amounts of data from multiple sources, including human collection (HUMINT), open source (OSINT), imagery (IMINT) and other technical means. Using specialist software and critical thinking skills, this data can then be presented in such a way that others can understand.

Simply put, an intelligence analyst takes complex pieces of information, and frames them in a context which is easy to understand for decision makers.

Why is Intelligence Analysis important?

Knowledge is power. Without effective data analysis, decisions are based on hearsay, semi-educated guesses or personal/cognitive bias.

Yet, the act of simply collecting information is not enough. Information must be analysed and critically interpreted in order to be useful. You can’t just gather information from a variety of sources and hope to produce useful intelligence.

Intelligence Analysis enables you to make data-driven decisions

Intelligence is an important tool used to protect individuals and organisations. Protective intelligence provides actionable intelligence from a strategic, operational and tactical perspective. This then enables you to make better data-driven decisions within your business.

Data-driven decision-making can also be applied to all areas of your business.

Risk Management

Intelligence analysis, in itself, is not a magic bullet that underlies everything. However, in addition to drawing conclusions from the data, we must understand how it’s interpreted and used in the real world.

Data analysis provides decision makers with the knowledge required to manage risks more effectively.

Improved Return on Investment from security expenses

Measuring how you’re able to make informed decisions and improvements based on a risk analysis can allow you to see every possible outcome. It also gives users the skills to identify risks for themselves and make a note of them, should the need arise.

Businesses can save money by doing due diligence initially and thus improving the security ethic of staff members as well as doing within the best interests of the organisation.

Reduce Instances of Criminal Activity

Information from intelligence analysts can be used to identify instances of criminal activity, carry out risk assessments that show likelihood of harm or damage, and develop strategies for mitigating those risks.

We’ve all heard the phrase:

“Prevention is better than a cure”

It’s more cost effective and less harmful to the wider community to prevent crime before it happens, making it more difficult for criminals to strike. Early intervention is also one of the best ways to save resources in the long-term.

Harm Prevention and Public Safety

Becoming a victim of crime, particularly violent crime, is one of the most frightening risks posed to individuals.

Intelligence analysis in crime prevention is often a multi-agency operation, with cooperation from local, national and international law enforcement or security forces. Ultimately, the aim is to reduce the risk of harm to individuals and maintain public safety.

Technology has also been proven to be a valuable tool in detecting criminal activity, for example, intelligence is used for the purpose of behaviour detection in crowds at large protests or sporting events.

Improve Internal Processes

Intelligence analysis in your business leads to better internal business processes.

It’s not a secret that data is crucial for business success. No matter what industry you’re in, having access to relevant data allows you to make informed decisions that help your company succeed.

Business Continuity Planning

There are times when a company needs to verify the identity of a potential, locate stolen property or complete a loss audit (for example, goods stolen by shoplifters).

This form of intelligence analysis is typically used during business continuity planning (BCP). It’s important that companies properly understand the threat to staff, property and brand reputation.

Skills Required for Intelligence Analysis

For a lot of analysts, whether it’s in security or within a public service role, require a certain calibre of skills that are both integral and transferable.

The skills these Analyses require are a breadth of skills that ensure the protection of some of the biggest security systems in the world. Here are some of the key skills Intelligence Analysts will be required to use on a daily basis in their roles.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the thinking behind decisions; it’s not just the technical aspect of knowledge.

When conducting Intelligence Analysis, employees will have to pay particular attention to how they approach each situation. Critical thinking allows people to look at the most important information and apply it to the situation correctly. Critical thinkers also need to be able to make decisions within minutes, or even seconds, to ensure the right decision is made at the right time.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is a core skill required for intelligence analysis. All aspects of handling data need extraordinarily precise measurement and calculation.

In an Intelligence Analysis it’s paramount to produce accurate documentation that leaves for no margin of error. Should a mistake be made due to a lack of attention to detail, it can be detrimental to new processes, business development and decision making from upper management.

Communicating complex information

With most roles there are complex information and jargon that will require translating into plain English for staff and managers. Intelligence analysts should be equipped with the knowledge to break down complicated information into layman’s terms and even have a series of examples and analogies to use for those that require another level of explanation.

These can come in the form of presentations or large meetings with staff so that each process is clearly understood before proceeding.

Knowledge and understanding of analytical techniques

Knowing the use of different tools and methods to conduct analyses will be at the forefront of an Analyst’s skillset. They will be their toolkit, so to speak, as they’ll be using their analytical skills the most to make informed decisions and communicate with others.

Analytical skills are used to detect patterns, interpret difficult data, brainstorm solutions and to come up with a solution that factors in all reasons and results. There are many variables that Analysts have to consider when putting together an Intelligence Analysis, so it’s vital that they look at each possible outcome carefully.

Problem solving

The ability to analyse and solve problems is one of the most important skills you can have as an intelligence analyst. The use of logic and facts to arrive at insights can be as important if you’re able to convince others of the value in your ideas. Intelligence analysts need to read and interpret data, come up with questions to ask, and use technology and software to communicate their findings.

Interpersonal skills

Intelligence analysts and security professionals do not work alone, this work is very much a team effort. Intelligence teams often include individuals from a range of diverse backgrounds.

Assessment, evaluation, and application of interpersonal skills are fundamental in intelligence analysis. The term “interpersonal skills” refers to the abilities to understand, evaluate and modify interactions among people. These skills enable people to work effectively with others and develop meaningful professional relationships.

Foreign Language Skills

It’s also beneficials for analysts, or in fact anyone working within the security industry to speak additional languages, especially when working in large cities with diverse populations.

Those that study foreign languages statistically have an improved memory and improved decision making. It also gives them a greater perspective in problem solving situations and improves a person’s ability to multitask. All these benefits are incredibly valuable to Intelligence Analysis being conducted, especially within an international security setting.

Accredited Intelligence Analysis Training

Want to learn more about intelligence analysis in a structured way?

The Level 3 Award in Intelligence Analysis is for security professionals who want to broaden their skills and knowledge in intelligence operations, especially those working in an intelligence analysis role.

The course (held in our industry-leading virtual classroom) will provide you with a nationally recognised qualification to demonstrate knowledge and competence of the intelligence process. This is an excellent qualification to compliment other security related qualifications you may have.

Find out more about intelligence analysis training.

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