The Difference in Intelligence and Investigation

Often, the term intelligence gathering and investigation are wrongly used by private investigators. Let's take a brief moment to understand the difference in detecting or investigating and intelligence gathering.

Clear Difference in Intelligence and Investigation

A private investigator has a goal, usually legal in nature that helps provide evidence that is "beyond a reasonable doubt" or helps solidify "probable cause", especially in the case of law enforcement detectives. There are other terms as well but usually all lead to being able to take a legal action, send someone to prison or help fight a civil suit.

Private investigators work at proving something when they are conducting detective work.

But, when a private investigator gathers intelligence, it is usually handled much more differently. Intelligence does not attempt to prove anything, it simply aids our clients in making more informed decisions. To use a military term "actionable intelligence". Although "actionable intelligence is meant to be so accurate a decision maker could push a button and get the desired result, and that term is best left for military, and not for the private sector, because that is a rarity.

Intelligence is gathered in many forms, none of which we will discuss in this brief article, but suffice it to say, intelligence, once sorted and sifted, can aid in an investigation or help a client understand their competitive landscape better, among other uses of intelligence.

Example of Intelligence Verses Investigation

A quick example which will clearly define the differences between providing an investigation and providing intelligence can be illustrated in this way:

Suppose you were preparing for a civil suit. You need to know who witnessed the incident and what they know, saw or heard. You locate where the witnesses live and you interview them and provide your client the information that they can use in their civil case. This is an example of an investigation.

No consider if you were the Acme Corporation and you wanted to understand more about your competition. We look for information or intelligence in which you can use to better understand the products, services, customers, distribution routes, etc of the competitor. The Acme Corporation then decides out of this giant pot of intelligence, what can be used in their own marketing, development, research and distribution and helps them to understand their competitive landscape and make decisions on how to keep up with the Jones's, so to speak.

During intelligence gathering, we can collect focused information or a slew of ethically obtained open-source information and let our clients decide how it can be used, offering some interpretation, but they can decide if it is applicable and usable now or in the future.