In combat, a commander tasks units to gather information from the "battle space," so that the commander may make informed decisions and take calculated risks based upon their assessment of the enemy's known and perceived capabilities and intentions.
Before FOBS was even set up, I started gathering strategic information on Seattle's "business space." To borrow from a must-read book for business leaders, "The Mission, The Men, And Me," by Peter Blaber (Berkley Caliber, 2009), I listened to the people on the ground - I gathered intelligence on the patterns, trends, assessments, and guesses from Seattle's corporate leaders and lieutenants. What's my strategic assessment of their collective strategic assessment? They need more information.
What information do they need, and why? Can someone start a business, or change the direction of one, with new strategic business intelligence - can they simultaneously conduct business intelligence analysis and business operations? Yes, and the trend, the pattern, that is emerging is strategic third party technology reconnaissance (STPTR).
STPTR is where a third party vendor technologically integrates vertically and horizontally into their first party host corporation. You read business technology content describing Customer Relations Management (CRM) or Communications as a Service (CaaS). This is the technological equivalent of Big Four Accounting (or Big Three) consultancy - but with more intelligence and operational integration.
Consider a public corporation wants to modify or create a business line. Much like government, they outsource to a third party contractor/consultancy. That third party consultancy, in the emerging technology space, now offers content creation, human resources facilitation, marketing and branding, and legal management of the above. The third party consultancy becomes a division of the first party company.
Thus, technology becomes the fulcrum upon which business intelligence is gathered, stored, and disseminated. Although business intelligence is not new, the integration of bundled consultancy services is an emerging trend. How profound is this, what are the unintended consequences of such an emergence?
Consider hiring a STPTR that is integrated into your rival's business model. What is to prohibit the STPTR from transferring the knowledge, skills, and abilities acquired, funded, and supported by your rival into your business? After all, the technology, staffing, patents, branding, etc., of the STPTR is the STPTR's and not your rival's. Say a bunch of Yahoo emeritus executives start a STPTR as a strategic stop-gap to Microsoft efforts to acquire them. Instead of going to a head hunter, or a consultancy, the Yahoo execs use the STPTR as a trojan horse to integrate into Microsoft operations, and their STPTR is later hired by Google, Linux, IBM, or Cisco. How can you separate Microsoft's technology from the STPTR's technology? Who do you regulate, tax, award patents, sue, acquire, negotiate with, etc?
So, who are the strategic technological Captains of business, the Bill Gates', or the CEO of a new STPTR? Unconventional business warfare at its best and most unpredictable...Machiavellian computing anyone?
*Post-script: A reader suggested that I change the STPTR acronym for stickiness. Thus, to better reflect the subject, I'll change the acronym to SCR: Strategic Consultancy Reconnaissance.