Artificial intelligence, mighty machines and powerful robots

By | Artificial Intelligence
We read many articles and watch adverts proclaiming the virtues and threats of Artificial Intelligence.
I have a number of thoughts on this subject.
To start, the term Artificial Intelligence “AI”.   is not even named correctly.
Also, if you think about it, a ‘computer’ is a pretty terrible name too.

AI isn’t Artificial or actually Intelligent

Our point is that AI isn’t Artificial or actually Intelligent.
It’s a vastly expanded and sophisticated version of the same digital processes that apparently powered astronauts to the moon in the ’60s. Conspiracy theorists would suggest this logic applied to all things digital would mean that we would have an opportunity to live in moon based cities by now.  And yet we have not been back since… Interesting, I wonder why?
We are already enshrined in algorithmic predetermination.
For example, the number of people who will see this article is subject to an algorithm that assumes and prepositions everyone’s exposure to everyone else.

Who decides what news is anyway?

The algorithmic influence of who sees what is not within the purview of the actual reader.
In past times we decided what to read through personal choice (or at least the perception of such) as to what they listened to or watched on radio, TV and what newspaper they read.
Oh, those heady days before anyone started to ask questions such as ‘Who decides what news is anyway?’
So little wonder we remain unsure, removed and confused (look at almost any aspect economic, political, social, spiritual, sociological existence).
Technology has done wondrous things, good and bad.  Are we sure we understand it all yet?
Also, we don’t yet have the track record to safely programme something that will not make the errors of judgement that humans make.

Humanlike traits

Humans are subjective, and machines are objective.
AI is merely an extension of data processing. It’s a series of ‘1’s and ‘0’s that work tirelessly without rest.
Without any humanlike traits, they will become the exponential total of the base programming instigated at the outset.
Implementing AI should be in a manner that is truly pure, truly sacrosanct and untouched by any self-interest, politics, profit motive or short-term gain.
So assuming such a means could be found.
Moreover, which it almost certainly can’t or won’t, could it also be free to serve humankind in such a way that it can just as easily be accessed by everyone.
People in underdeveloped economies as well as global companies, by states, by anyone, anywhere anytime.
If so, what would such a resource look like? What would it be able to do and how would we even get that far?
Moreover, where would the investment come from without the interest to investors being enshrined?
Is what we paint as progress such, as students embark on university courses, happy to sign up to substantial financial indebtedness to find that upon qualification, their subject matter has moved on and their qualification is already outmoded or soon will be.

Change and progress

Many people think that change and progress are the same things.
Are we endlessly questing for change and calling it progress?
Essentially, it is people who make the mistakes; machines only do what their program commands.
In a world of people and machines, humans are advantaged by many things; machines will augment us and machines will advantage us.
However, until we have mastered our capabilities dare we allow machines to self-learn and make immensely faster judgements and determinations based upon perceptive judgements.
It could rapidly become vastly alien to those of humankind?
We are already so reliant upon technology that cognitive reasoning, decision making and free choice are becoming perishable skillsets.
And inundated with information while knowledge is getting scarcer by the microsecond.
We are so far away yet from mastering our potential, why should we distract ourselves from what we are each truly capable of by defaulting to endless technological alternatives that are decades if not centuries away from aspiring to be a fraction of what a human being can be.
Also, we ought to use our organic computing systems, we each have one to think this through, and we don’t need artificial intelligence when we have intelligence.

‘John Connor Defeats Skynet’

By Darrell West
Please feel free to leave a comment below or get In touch with us here. Follow us on Twitter

Marshalls ethically paving a way to success with amazing results

By | Brand Intelligence

Why they are fab...

"Established British brand, with a reputation for supplying natural stone, successfully developing innovative concrete products, with clearly defined markets - construction, landscape and home improvement".

How they differentiate themselves

A leading brand and driving force in the isolation and eradication of modern slavery. Also, they actively understand their supply chains and can point to where their stone quarried.
Superior customer service, based on their down to earth, friendly but professional approach you would expect from a Yorkshire based company.
Also, an attention to detail. Marshall’s stone products are important enough to be delivered in their own vehicle. And the use of superior stone which looks beautiful but also has the right technical details such porosity, so their stone is long lasting and safe to walk on.
Constant search and development of new products to enhance their traditional stone based services. Excellent use of online media.
Bringing anti-terror protection products into the public environment without damaging the aesthetic or pedestrian flow.
Then there is the enhanced profile with strategic projects, such as London 2012 Olympic Park landscaping and key players in major garden and landscaping exhibitions.

Their competition

Hardscape, UK Stone Imports, BBS Group as well as Breedon.

Octorating

8/8

For more information get in touch here or follow us on Twitter

Military Intelligence

Military intelligence lessons

By | Intelligence

Before reading this article, written for the SCIP magazine, you may be expecting many useful Military Intelligence tools and tips. But films and TV don’t offer an accurate reflection of military intelligence.

The reality may seem so much more mundane because the best tools used are your mind, your attitude and simple common sense.

That said, there are many skills involved in the Military Intelligence field which are relevant to life within the commercial world.

The Military teaches us that when the chips are down, instead of panicking, have a cup of tea.

Strap on your pack, pick up your rifle, give your teammates some banter and get on with it.

It may be a British thing, but if you are struggling to find information, have a laugh at yourself. Call yourself a name and get back to it.

Choose the right team with the right skills

The first military lesson is to ensure that you have the most suitable and highly trained team possible to match the situation being faced.

In the military, you would not have an SAS Troop tasked to feed five hundred people.

You wouldn’t give the job of breaking an embassy siege to the Women’s Royal Balloon Corps just because they were around the corner and had just finished another project.

It may sound funny, but this sort of mismatch is seen all too frequently in the corporate world.

Marketing assistants may be asked to look for competitor information or to help find someone to do competitive intelligence for them.

A quick google search may be undertaken with the assumption that this will give enough intelligence.

Quality intelligence, where the right questions are asked. Where the best tools are used, which goes deep and turns over every stone, is the result of many years of training and experience.

The 7 Ps

The military has a saying “Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents “Particularly” Poor Performance.”

This teaches us that real leadership is to ensure you have a well thought out plan which includes a “don’t give up” attitude.

Nevertheless, the military also teaches us that sometimes you have to change your plan when situations on the ground demand it.

If you are unable to do this, sticking rigidly to what you were told to do, then you will soon lose the respect of your team, or worse.

So, if you are trying to collect information and it is becoming impossible, change the way you are doing the research. Approach the mountain of information from a different angle.

Accuracy

Accuracy is a crucial demand within both Military and Competitive Intelligence. Especially if there is a good chance that what you create could be used in the field. In the military, intelligence has to be accurate, or it risks lives. Lives of people and their families you will never meet.

Walking hand in hand with accuracy is common sense and the ability to think quickly and calmly.

You can only do this if you are confident in your ability, are well trained and experienced. The same applies in the commercial world.

Presenting tools

In the military, there is no better example of how important it is to get your message across. To people who need to decide what to and those who are tasked to do it.

Imagine the eve of a battle and the general stands up to address his men.

Armed with Intelligence and a plan, he outlines how he is going to defeat the enemy.

He realises that his troops and commanders will have difficulty in understanding the environment they will be fighting in.

But not to worry, he is prepared. And he reveals a fantastic PowerPoint presentation and a SWOT diagram! Teams have to get into breakout groups. They discuss the plan and isolate what the intelligence means to them.

As you can perhaps understand, this is going to worry the troops, who like to know which way to go and what to shoot at.

As discussed already, the military uses orders, Standard Operating Procedures and they are highly trained.

To keep it simple, the general delivers a succinct, inspiring message. A message everyone understands and replaces the SWOT diagram with something called a Map.

Map are simple to understand and, when in the battlefield, maps can be drawn in the sand with features recreated with pebbles and bits of stick. A 3D map called a model.

From these maps, commanders in the field build models of specific areas and buildings they need to focus on.

The military teaches us all to keep things simple, work as a team and prepare well.  And, in order to ensure we know what to do and where to go, use a map.

Continued.

The full article can be found here and was written for the SCIP Magazine by Graeme Dixon and Darrell West of Octopus Intelligence. www.octopusintelligence.com

Is the excellent Caffè Nero roasting their competition?

By | Brand Intelligence

Why they are fab...

"Caffè Nero, a UK independent Italian-style coffee bar brand are renowned for excellent coffee and fresh quality food. They offer an inviting atmosphere served by friendly people who try to get to know their regulars".

How they differentiate themselves

It’s an Italian coffee house feel, good coffee and food. They focus on their core brand values.
They try and encourage a welcoming atmosphere. You are greeted and made to feel that there is no rush. They is no pressure to leave, and the layout is relaxing allowing friends to chat informally. They want to create a neighbourhood feel.
There is an attention to detail in the coffee house, from the lighting, colour of the wood, seating etc. The packaged cakes, biscuits and chocolate at the front of the counter are all Italian.  Despite being a national chain; they work hard to ensure it does not feel like it.
They create a European feel and avoid the American style of their competitors. Their branding is subtle and not plastered everywhere.
High quality coffee, broad product range and food offering are a given, but the overall feeling of the coffee house makes you think the coffee is the better than their competitors. Is it? Matter of opinion and taste. We think so.
They have resisted the temptation to roll out their coffee houses to every street corner, and you will not find a coffee machine in a tired petrol station. You will not find a Cafe Nero on an M1 Service Station; they will not sell burgers in the future and drive in’s are not for them. Their mobile coffee shop offering is even small and European styled.
They have a simple loyalty scheme too. No sign ups, just stamp a card.
They possess just under 15% of the UK coffee shop market, and they are financially secure with cash in the bank proving their model is working.

Their competition

Costa, Starbucks. Macdonalds, local coffee shops

Octorating

6/8

Best decisions made with your animal instincts

By | Intelligence

Blink

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell explores how we process our intuition and instinct and suggests how we make split-second decisions and judgments.  Both good and bad ones.

Gut feeling is an inbuilt reaction which allows us to accurately read a dangerous situation or a person who may wish us harm.

The book offers an appreciation of judgments based on less information rather than more. On expert intuition or instinct rather than the less seasoned novice judgments.

Gladwell suggests that intuitive or “snap” judgments are valuable. And that the more experienced you are on a subject, the more this will allow you to make accurate decisions.

We agree with Gladwell, that gut feeling can be an excellent tool for minor points, life and death experiences. (not too many of those at Octopus towers recently) To give a general direction of understanding of what’s going on, but gut feeling must be backed up by significant verifiable information.

Gladwell introduces the concept of “thin-slicing”.  That’s your unconscious mind’s ability to isolate patterns and meaning within the most fleeting “slices” of experience and impressions.

He gives an example of the ability of one psychologist to predict, with 95% accuracy, if a couple would still be together in fifteen years’ time. According to Gladwell, this and other examples, show how experts can take small samples and make fantastic, accurate predictions.

However, we need to take into account our environment when using gut feeling, as gut feeling can change depending on where you are and how threatened or content you feel. Within Intelligence, if you are up against a deadline, then validated gut feeling is more achievable if you are relaxed, with all the time in the world.

Not as good as we think

Our gut feeling is not as perfect as we might think. Even though, It can be a great tool to deploy when we are trying to analyse what’s going on with a competitor or a market. However, it is not the magic bullet, and we must be aware that our gut feel is exceptionally open to wishful thinking and bias, and this must be taken into account.

The more market and life experience you have, the more this could prevent you using your gut reaction and picking up on those intangible warning signs if your industry changes or new competitors come along.

And yes, your industry can and almost certainly will change; it’s up to you to realise this. That industry experience and know-how should not let you lose sight of how potentially useful your gut feeling could be.

We can take gut feeling into account, as one part of a whole repertoire of tools, but the future direction of your business in an ever-changing market needs considered detailed analysis.

So, whilst we shouldn’t ignore our intuition, we should not make critical business decisions with it either.

Feel free to comment or get in touch here.  And follow us on Twitter.

Brand intelligence – Paul Smith

By | Brand Intelligence

Why they are fab...

"Iconic well made fashion presented within a superb, but understated experience".

Brand intelligence – How they differentiate themselves

Walking into a Paul Smith store is rather like walking into a top 5 star hotel.

You are walking into an experience where the products for sale are part of the experience. Also, Part of the art.

Therefore, you are not bombarded by the brand and signs proclaiming discounts, sales and directions. So, you have take your time and explore the store to find something interesting.

Subtle branding does not shout at you or the world. You know it’s Paul Smith and that is all that matters.

Moreover, the fashion has extreme attention to detail and quality with a premium price that you appreciate rather than struggling to understand the value.

Even the receipt is placed into a well designed envelope.

The staff are considered, professional, welcoming and leave you alone.

Fashion with a twist. Classic cuts with the unexpected. Like this year’s Octopuses.

Their competition

Hugo Boss, Prada and Burberry

Octorating

8/8

Follow us on Twitter

Want to know more? Then get in touch here.

Paul Smith and Brand Intelligence
Paul Smith and Brand Intelligence
Paul Smith and Brand Intelligence
Intelligence assessment Iran flag on border

Intelligence assessment on the Iranian situation

By | Intelligence

We assess the situation between the US and Iran.

A number of quotes and Tweets directed towards the Iranian leadership, included:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump Jul 22:

“To Iranian president Rouhani: never, ever threaten the united states again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence & death. Be cautious!”

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton:

“Iran will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before”. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – written in English and Farsi:

“Hypocritical holy men who amassed vast sums of wealth while allowing their people to suffer”. 

The media would have you believe that Mr Trump is barking mad and unstable. This may or not be true.

But, what’s going on?

  • Firstly, the USA’s threats against Iran are not merely a foreign policy diversion to distract from growing scrutiny over Russia and North Korea.
  • And there appears to be a regime change strategy for Tehran.
  • Also, the economic and social pressure in Iran intensifies under the White House’s sanctions policy.
  • So, the Iranian government diverting anger onto external threats to reduce popular unrest.
  • Also, Iranian President Rouhani is likely to lose political ground to hard-liners, with many of them already wanting to walk away from the nuclear deal commitments.
  • Significant protests in early 2018 in the poorer parts of rural Iran and with more widely reported Tehran Merchant class demonstrations in Tehran are signs that the people are in the mood for change.
  • So, this unrest will force Iran to increase using their security apparatus to contain dissent and get around sanctions.
  • Moving away from Iran nuclear deal and reemploying sanctions is an attempt to provoke the Iranian people to rise.
  • However, it would appear that regime change is still going to be very difficult but will be working with Israel and Saudi Arabia on the ground to support the economic turmoil and propaganda strategy.

So, back to the negotiation table?

  • It could bring the Iranian government back to the negotiating table.
  • And it’s unlikely that the Strait of Hormuz will be blockaded as it would invite a serve US Military response.
  • Negotiations with North Korea will need to remain on track to show there is an exit plan for Iranians.
  • So, if the US can keep a lid on North Korea, there will be more resources to escalate military pressure on Iran.
  • Russia will be a complicating factor, and senior political meetings between Iran and Russia will continue.
  • Iranian economy is already under enormous strain, and that pain will be compounded when sanctions snap back in August and November.
  • There is some debate about how much influence has with Iran especially if things hot up on the ground.
  • Possible signs that Russia is partly onside to protect their interests as they are looking to reduce Iranian military activity in Syria especially near the Israeli border.

Conflict

The potential of military conflict will depend on:

  • President Rouhani’s political weakening and
  • A growing reliance on the Revolutionary Guard to rebuild risky and covert ways to get around the sanctions.
  • Iran’s navy harassing Military vessels and Saudi, Kuwaiti or Emirati tankers and production and loading platforms.
  • Cyber-attacks on its neighbours.
  • Turning the threat to close the Strait of Hormuz into action.
  • Withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

Iranian weaknesses

  • Allied forces would attack their important oil terminal based at Kharg.
  • Block the Strait of Hormuz will also prevent their own trade from being exported.
  • Ripping up the nuclear deal could result in a Saudi and or US military response.
  • Any actions could give Israel an excuse to take unilateral military action.

US weaknesses

  • The massive increase in oil prices could deter them.
  • Saudi Arabia would struggle to keep the oil moving.
  • The potential self-inflicted trade war threat to the world’s economy.
  • Russia is extremely interested in them, and the US has no desire to escalate tensions with the Kremlin.

So what?

The Implications of this are ever present to organisations across a huge range of sectors and industries, how resilient do you think you are?

Brought to you by Octopus Intelligence, the Global Competitive Intelligence Agency.

www.octopusintelligence.com

Time to get competitive with Intelligence analysis tool

By | Intelligence
When gathering Competitive Intelligence, there is often more than one path we can go down.

To help us decide the best path, we use a tool called Analysis of Competing Hypotheses, or ACH to keep things simple.

Analysis of Competing Hypotheses

Created in the 70s by the CIA, to reduce limitations in its analysis, ACH is proven and effective, and we find it to be a great tool. At the same time, there is a lot of conflicting information out there about how it works. We’ve found it has often been explained in a way that makes it sound more complicated than it actually is.

In short, ACH works as a 7 step tool to test all the options open to us. It then judges which path is best for our clients.

Step 1

Collect the information surrounding the problem, and start to think about what is going on and what you are going to do about it.

List all the things that could be going on. No silly answers excluded or criticised.

Step 2

Find the evidence, assumptions and deductions for and against each theory found in Step 1.

Step 3

Put the theories where you have found evidence into a matrix to enable you to compare and contracts with each other. Try your hardest to disprove each hypothesis.

Each hypothesis is given a number to rank them between -2 and 2 to test the evidence, assumptions and deductions against the hypothesis. The higher the number, the more likely that evidence supports the theory.

 

Deductions – The process of reaching the answer by thinking about the known facts.

For instance. The Russians will support the Syrian regime because they want to maintain their influence in the Middle East and have a Mediterranean seaboard.

Octopus Intelligence

We are Octopus, the Global Competitive Intelligence Agency. Get the better of your competitors and market.

Thank you www.octopusintelligence.co.uk

If you would like a pdf version of this, please feel free to email us on hello@octopusintelligence.co.uk

Smart Intelligence Boy with thumbs up

Intelligence is smart! Here are 6 reasons why

By | Intelligence

We live in unparalleled times. Almost everything is changing. And change will affect you, and it’s a dangerous assumption to think it won’t. Now, more than ever before, you need to be smart about Intelligence.

Intelligence isn’t the same as information and data. It’s about you and your competitors. Also, it’s about reporting concisely to decision makers in an easily actionable manner. It’s about protecting the well-being of your business.

1. Intelligence is smart and future-proofs your business

Learning what your competition is doing is a game changer. So you need to know who has their eyes on your business and marketplace. Also, you have to understand what they’re planning and determine what to do about it. So, don’t make the mistake of relying on only single sources such as Salesforce reports. Establishing what’s really happening with complete impunity is vital.

2. Smart intelligence understands the impact of new technologies

Right now, stories of technology replacing humans are commonplace. Do you have an understanding of how technology is likely to impact your marketplace? Or a conduit to how technology could open up new market opportunities for your business or for that matter your competition? How about technology aiding your productivity? However, this isn’t about product development. It’s about what will happen and how it will impact you.

3. Smart intelligence gives you the heads up on buying, selling and investing

When buying, selling or investing in a business, it’s a mistake to assume financial reports give useful intelligence. These are focused on historical information rather than what is really happening now and is likely to happen shortly. So, the smart thing to do is to confirm historical information, and use matrices to supplement historical data. In other words, find out about the skeletons in the cupboard.

4. Smart intelligence protects what you have

Can you be entirely sure that there are no dangers lurking within your organisation? Are plans being made to take vital information, secrets or practices to set up in competition? The truth is this happens more frequently than many business leaders realise. It’s usually a complete shock and can be utterly devastating when it happens. Be proactive, and be informed ahead of events. Smart intelligence protects your business.

5. Smart intelligence supports you to build international business

The challenges of building new opportunities can be daunting. So imagine the problems like those above happening in entirely unknown territories. By engaging professional support that is intimately aware of the local dynamics, culture and political landscape – and a whole host of things the export advisors never tell you – you can have more confidence in the people and country that you are investing in.

6. Smart intelligence ensures you have the right people

How much work do recruiters really undertake to fully inform you about the people you may be placing great store in? Smart intelligence gives you the heads up on new senior employees, business partners, suppliers and service providers.

There many protocols you can apply before making decisions to engage with people before you commit. Even in this age of technology, people are the ones that make the difference, cost the most and can be your biggest asset or most significant liability.

Thank you www.octopusintelligence.co.uk

Who are we? We provide a range of services for improving your internal intelligence capacity, making sure you get what you need and it does what you need it to. 

Our clients are smart.

They recognise the vital importance of intelligence in their planning and strategic activity.

We’re there for them anytime, anywhere, any issues. As a global organisation, we’re dedicated to and passionate about discreetly and efficiently delivering intelligence.

Call us on 0844 499 6179.

competitor intelligence to smash and out last them

By | Competitors

Ever noticed how many companies claim to be number one in their sector? So frequently has the term ‘market-leading’ been bandied around it’s actually lost all meaning.

Here’s why. Not everyone can be number one. Rules change over time and things never stay the same. This is abundantly clear when you look at the companies on the FTSE100 now compared to 10 years ago – there are major differences and some notable disappearances.

So if being first in your sector now has little cache, perhaps a better goal is not to beat your competitors, but instead to outlast them. After all, being first at the 400 metre mark of a marathon won’t necessarily help you win the race. Go too quickly and you’re more likely to hit the wall.

Solution: maintain your resources

Outlasting your competitors brings your strategic direction to the fore. A good starting point is to look at the activities which could damage your ability to outlast your competitors.

A good example is your pricing, and not dropping your prices just because your competitor has. Lower prices may be damaging. They may be unsustainable. Most of all, they may be unnecessary. If you understand why your competitors are doing what they’re doing, you don’t need to react to their every move.

So while your competitors may be doing some great things, you should only look to better what they are doing if they do not damage what you stand for and your most valuable tool, your resources.

Protect your ethics, and you can outlast your competitors, without the distraction of artificially leading them.

Thank you www.octopusintelligence.co.uk