Intelligence points of pain (IPoPs)

I recently conducted a KVC Workshop for intelligence producers at SCIP08’s international convention in San Diego.  During the workshop I surveyed them about their biggest obstacles and problems in corporate intelligence.  We’ve been collecting and analyzing this kind of data now for several years—I call it the Intelligence Points of Pain (IPoP) database.

NEWS FLASH: Intelligence problems and challenges are remarkably similar across different organizations, in different industries, in different countries. Even as I compare Workshop results from different years, I find the results amazingly consistent.

The intelligence producer IPoPs cluster into major repeating themes, to paraphrase:

  • “I’m stuck at the bottom of the value chain.” People feel pigeon-holed into doing tactical research when they should be doing strategy, not in touch with senior management, being stuck as a data retrieval service (“stick-fetchers”), etc.
  • “My value is unclear.” People report having trouble getting feedback from internal clients on their work.  This is essential, as it is often the best-available proxy for actual measurable business results.
  • “I’m invisible.” People report that colleagues don’t know what they do, don’t know how to use them, that they’re “out of the loop”, etc.  Worst of all is the often-experienced problem of doing all the heavy lifting, then having someone else slam-dunk your results and take all the credit.
  • “I’m drinking from a firehose.” The sheer volume and velocity of data we’re required to take in and process is getting to some of you. It’s gotten much greater since I started doing corporate intelligence work twenty years ago, and I expect this “data acceleration” to continue.
  • “I’m overworked and under-resourced.” This gets directly to the value proposition, since as your value becomes clear, you will generally gain access to greater resources.  Put another way, if you’re positioned as a positive-ROI investment, greater invesment will naturally result.  If you’re positioned as a cost, and an overhead cost at that, you’ll be carefully scrutinized at budget time.

I feel your pain!  In my own work, I’ve heard myself say each of these things at various times.  Some of these problems I’ve solved, some I’ve found “work-arounds” for, and some still challenge me on a regular basis.  I’ll explore ways we’re addressing these “IPoPs” in future posts here.

Do any of these sound familiar to you?  Please send us your comments below.

Leave a Comment

  • Latest Posts

  • Topics

  • Archives

  • About this site

    COMPETING IN THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY is written by Timothy Powell, an independent researcher and consultant in knowledge strategy. Tim is president of The Knowledge Agency® (TKA) and serves on the faculty of Columbia University's Information and Knowledge Strategy (IKNS) graduate program.


    "During my more than three decades in business, I have served more than 100 organizations, ranging from Fortune 500s to government agencies to start-ups. I document my observations here with the intention that they may help you achieve your goals, both professional and personal.

    "These are my opinions, offered for your information only. They are not intended to substitute for professional advice."


    We typically publish monthly on or about the 15th of each month, subject to our client workload. Use the RSS feed links below to subscribe to posts and/or comments. Better yet, follow us on Twitter @twpowell to be notified of new posts and related developments.

    Thanks for reading! Please mention us to others and add your non-spam comments and suggestions -- we value your input.


    COMPETING IN THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY is sponsored by the Knowledge Value Chain® (KVC), a methodology that increases the value and ROI of Data, Information, Knowledge, and Intelligence.

    The contents herein are original, except where otherwise noted. All original contents are Copyright © TW Powell Co. All rights reserved.

    All KVC trademarks, trade names, designs, processes, manuals, and related materials are owned and deployed worldwide exclusively by The Knowledge Agency®. Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.


    E SCIENTIA COPIA. Knowledge is the Engine of Value.