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Glossary of terms used in competitive intelligence and knowledge management  

By Vernon Prior

NB: Entries marked with an * are new or modified entries with effect from 12 July 2009

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P / Q - R - S - T - U - V - W / X / Y/ Z


Sample is a subset of a population or a group under study that is representative of the entire population.  See also: Market, Market intelligence, Marketing research

Scenario analysis is a systematic method of studying and articulating probable future events that may affect the organisation or its operating environment.  It may, for instance, be used to: forecast trends in an industry; identify probable Competitor strategies; evaluate the effect of emerging technologies; assess a potential merger, acquisition, or alliance.  It is a useful, long-term and highly objective analytical technique whose timing may not always be accurate.  Scenario analysis is also known as Alternative outcomes analysis or ‘What if?’ analysis.  See also: Business environment, Contingency planning, Horizon scanning, Prospective hindsight, Scenario planning, Strategic early warning, Strategy

Scenario planning uses Scenario analysis in order to formulate plans or prepare appropriate responses to probable future trends and events.  The plans produced usually cover a range from best case to worst case probabilities.  The technique allows users to explore the implications of several alternative futures and learn from mistakes without risking real-life failure.  More simply described as informed flexibility, it also enables users to modify their strategic direction as events unfold.  This form of planning is also known as Foresight planning.  See also: Contingency planning, Horizon scanning, Opportunities, Planning, Prospective hindsight, Strategic early warning, Threats, War gaming. 

Schema is a term sometimes used when referring to a Taxonomy

Science park is a development, within or near an institute of higher education or centre of excellence, that provides collocated advanced-technology or knowledge-based enterprises with the opportunity for Technology transfer from that institute, or between each other.  See also: Advanced technologies, Knowledge-based industries, Technology park

Scientometrics is the Analysis of the structure and development of scholarly communication, Information-seeking behaviour, and government policy as they relate to the sciences. 

Scope note, see Annotation

Search engines are microprocessor-driven software programs capable of successfully retrieving Information from computer networks or databases in order to match the needs of searchers.  They automatically Index keywords in context, usually by using Robots, then search those indexes for keywords that match the user’s request.  Generally speaking, they are more suitable than directories for conducting Research.  Current developments may incorporate Visualisation techniques.  See also: Bot, Crawler, Database, Directory, Keyword, Metasearch engine, Network, Spider

*Selective dissemination of information (SDI) is a personal Current awareness service.  It refers to a technique for directing new items of Information, from whatever source, to those individuals whose current interests in a particular subject are high, and who may be able to take advantage of such information.  SDI is based on a user interest profile which may be compiled using one of the following methods:

·         user-created (in which the profile is normally selected by the user from a list of keywords, descriptors, or indexing terms);

·         system-generated (which analyses word frequencies in relevant documents to identify patterns or areas of interest);

·         combined (which consists of a system-generated profile modified by the user);

·         neural net (where the system is trained using documents of interest to, and selected by, the user);

·         stereotype model (in which areas of interest shared by many users are used to produce individual profiles);

·         rule-based filtering (which implements explicit if-then rules to categorise content). 

Push technology or Personalisation are more recent terms for the same activity.  See also: Content management, Expertise profiling, Knowledge map, Social network analysis

Semantic networks represent Knowledge in the form of concepts (known as nodes) and links (that indicate the relationships between concepts).  A Concept is an abstract class or set consisting of items or things that share common features or properties.  See also: Classify, Hypertext, Knowledge map, Node, Ontology, Topic maps

Seminar is a meeting that calls for a high degree of participation; primarily used for training purposes.  The leader is both a content expert and a discussion leader. The term may also be used about a group of experienced people who wish to share their experiences.  See also: Colloquium, Community of practice, Conference, Symposium, Workshop

Server is a computer, or software package, that provides a specific service to client software running on other computers.  A single server machine may have several different server packages, thus providing many different services to clients on the Network

Service network occurs when enterprises combine to enhance their competitive capabilities in supplying services.  The costs associated with Research and development, training, Marketing, and initial exploration of export markets are shared by members of the network.  See also: Alliance, Cluster, Joint venture, Lead-firm network, Market, Networking, Production network, Strategic alliance

Simple object access protocol (SOAP) is a successor to the TCP/IP protocol.  See also: Transmission control protocol.  

Situation room, see War room

Situational analysis, see SWOT analysis

Small business is generally taken to be a manufacturing enterprise with fewer than 100 employees, or a non-manufacturing (service or retail) enterprise with fewer than 40 employees, in which owners retain independent ownership and control and make key management decisions.  

Smart agents, see Intelligent agents

Smart card is a plastic card, similar to a credit card, containing one or more integrated circuits for identification, Data storage, or special-purpose processing, used to validate personal identification numbers (PINs), authorise purchases, verify account balances, and store personal records.  In some types, the memory may be updated every time the card is used.  See also: Relationship card, Stored-value card

Social bookmarking, see Folksonomy

Social capital represents the active connections between people; including trust, mutual understanding, shared values, and behaviours that bind together the members of groups, networks, and communities and make cooperation possible; or, comprises the norms and relations embedded in social structures that enable people to coordinate action to achieve desired goals.   See also: Corporate culture, Human capital, Meme, Networking, Structural capital, Vision statement

Social classification, see Folksonomy

Social engineering is the use of deception, manipulation, or persuasion to obtain information by illicit means.  See also: Disinformation, Information warfare, Pretexting

Social indexing, see Folksonomy

*Social media is a combination of sociology and Information technology that allows people to publish their own content and to establish business or personal relationships. See also: Mociology, Networking, Social network, Social network analysis, Wiki

Social network is a map of relationships between individuals or organisations.  It comprises nodes (usually individuals or organisations) and ties (the connections between them), which may operate at many different levels, ranging from families and close friends to sovereign nations.  Social networks often have a critical role to play in the management of organisations, enabling problem-solving, decision-making, collaboration, and information sharing, as well as facilitating trade and commerce.  They may be used for conducting Social network analysis.  See also: Contact management system, Knowledge map, Networking, Social media, Usenet, Wiki

Social network analysis is the mapping and measuring of links and relationships between organisations and individuals engaged in Networking or collaborative activities.  It may reveal: specific expertise or influence; how people cooperate, and with whom; who is overburdened with requests for assistance; and who fails to collaborate at all.  Since it provides both visual and mathematical analyses, it is a very powerful technique for evaluating mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and inter-company relationships.  The terms Networking analysis, Network theory, or Organisation network analysis may also be used.  See also: Alliance, Analysis, Cluster, Community of Practice, Diffusion, Innovation, Joint venture, Knowledge management, Knowledge map, Networking, Nodes, Ties, Visualisation.   

Social tagging, see Folksonomy

Socialisation is a means for acquiring Tacit knowledge, usually by means of a shared learning experience.  See also: Combination, Externalisation, Internalisation, Knowledge management.

Soft information is essentially qualitative in nature and consists of ideas, suggestions, opinions, Rumour, gossip, feedback, anecdotes, speculation, and tips.  It may be derived from direct observation or by scanning the media (newspapers, magazines, the Internet, television, and radio) but, predominantly, through Elicitation, interviews, or other face-to-face activities.  It is highly regarded by senior executives and is particularly valuable in Intelligence operations.  See also: Humint, Networking

Sonification is the transformation of Data and Information into sounds that are said to permit more rapid identification of change.  Claimed advantages over Visualisation include that it is a more natural - and largely underused - sense, it can portray large volumes of information, it can alert observers to events outside the visual field, it can holistically bring together various channels of information, and may be more reliable than existing methods for controlling computers and other technologies.  Current investigations in this field include its application in stock-broking, aviation, and cancer surgery. 

Spam is mass, unsolicited commercial Electronic mail on the Internet.   

Special intelligence briefing is a brief Report that identifies a specific issue, summarises the key supporting analyses, and recommends one or more courses of action.  See also: Analysis, Briefing, Intelligence briefing, Summary

Specification is a set of technical or operating requirements to be satisfied by a product, a material, or a process.  See also: Patent specification, Standards

Spider is a program that searches the Web in order to gather specific Information on behalf of a user.  See also: Bot, Crawler, Search engine.   

Spying, see Espionage

Spyware is any software application that is generally installed without the knowledge or consent of the user, to obtain, use, or interfere with personal information or resources, content, or setting, for malicious or undesirable purposes. 

Stakeholder is any individual or group that has a direct interest, or some level of involvement, in the success of an organisation and would be affected by the outcome of any decisions.  See also: Corporate governance

Standard specifications, see Standards 

Standards are of two kinds: those used in the measurement of physical units, and those (more properly referred to as standard specifications) that describe quality, size, fitness for purpose, shape, and performance of products or materials and, by extension, methods or processes.  Another function of standards is to give precise meanings to the terms used in science and technology – to define the terminology, in other words.  Standards are normally referred to by serial number.  See also: Glossary, Specification

Steganography is a technique for disguising or hiding messages; it usually applies to the encryption of a message contained within an audio or graphic file.  See: Code, Corporate security, Cipher

Stemming, see Truncate

Stored-value card is a form of Smart card that replaces cash in some circumstances (for example, in payphones and computer terminals); some offer reload facilities.  See also: Relationship card

Strategic alliance is a collaborative agreement between two or more enterprises to mutually commit expertise or resources in order to achieve common goals or objectives, such as reducing costs, inhibiting competitors, gaining entry to new markets, supplementing critical skills or expertise, sharing the risks and costs of major projects, or acquiring access to new technology.  Such an alliance may be between companies, or between a company and its customers, its suppliers, or its competitors.  See also: Alliance, Cluster, Joint venture, Lead-firm network, Market, Networking, Production network, Service network

Strategic analysis, see Intelligence analysis

Strategic business unit is an enterprise or segment of an enterprise whose product line, Market environment, sales force, competitors, and customers are sufficiently different from the remainder of the company's activities that it requires its own unique marketing strategy.  See also: Marketing

Strategic early warning is the primary role of Competitive intelligence operations.  The aim is to monitor the Business environment for weak signals and early trends that may reveal potential changes before they become obvious to others.  It calls for a knowledgeable, cross-functional team, approved and encouraged by senior executives (to whom it reports), and which is able to call on advice and support from relevant experts.  See also: Brainstorming, Business intelligence, Competitive monitoring, Intelligence analysis, Opportunities, Scenario analysis, Scenario planning, Threats

Strategic group analysis identifies groups or clusters of businesses that adopt similar strategies and that tend to be affected by, and respond to, competitive actions and external events in similar ways.  See also: Cluster, Competitor intelligence, Strategy

Strategic intelligence is Knowledge about an organisation’s Business environment that has implications for its long-term viability and success, usually extending several years into the future. 

Strategic planning is a top-down approach concerned with the long-term mission and objectives of an organisation, the resources used in achieving those objectives, and the policies and guidelines that govern the acquisition, use, and disposition of those resources.  It must also take into account the Opportunities available to the organisation, and an assessment of its ability to exploit those opportunities with a view to gaining a distinct competitive advantage.  See also: Business intelligence, Contingency planning, Entrepreneur, Knowledge management, Planning, Resource, Scenario planning, Strategy, Tactical planning War gaming

Strategic research is mission-oriented and involves the application of established scientific Knowledge and methods to broad social or economic objectives, often extending over a considerable period.  See also: Innovation, Research, Tactical research

Strategy is the timely adoption of courses of action and the allocation of resources necessary for carrying out the basic long-term goals and objectives of an enterprise with the emphasis on achieving something different or unique.  An organisation’s strategy may be represented visually by a Strategy map; a powerful communication tool.  Strategy formulation involves the right brain, calling for Creativity, as well as the ability to deal with large volumes of information and to visualise a broad perspective.  See also: Balanced scorecard, Competitive intelligence, Competitor, Insight, Resource, Strategic planning, Tactics, Vision statement, Visualisation

Strategy game, see War gaming

Structural capital is the hardware, software, Databases, organisational structure, Copyright, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and other items of that nature, that support the productivity of the Human capital.  See also: Intellectual property, Knowledge base, Patent, Patent specifications, Trademark

Subject directories or guides, see Directory

Summary is a brief restatement, contained within the relevant Document, of salient ideas, findings, and conclusions.  It is intended to assist with orientation of the reader, for ready reference, or as a record.    See also: Gisting, Indicative abstract, Informative abstract, Report, Synopsis

Surrogate is a substitute to be used in place of a Document.  For filing purposes, this may take the form of an index card bearing a Bibliographic reference and the location of the document (for example, a numbered File, a specific office or department, or a named individual), or a Database record containing similar details.  See also: Metadata.  

Switched multi-megabit data service (SMDS) is a standard for very high-speed Data transfer. 

SWOT analysis is the evaluation of available Information concerning the Business environment in order to identify internal strengths and weaknesses, and external Threats and Opportunities.  SWOT analysis is also known as Situational analysis and, when applied to competitors, as Competitor profiling.  See also: Intelligence analysis

Symposium is a meeting convened for the discussion of some particular subject.  It also refers to a collection of opinions expressed, or articles contributed, by several persons on a given subject or topic.  See also: Colloquium, Conference, Seminar, Workshop

Synectics is a body of Knowledge and a series of techniques designed to induce imaginative problem-solving or creative activities.  Techniques include deliberate efforts at right-brain thinking; and positive, supportive behaviour.  See also: Brainstorming, Creativity, Lateral thinking

Synopsis may be either:

·         a series of brief statements describing the content of a Document or section of a document (although usually only found at chapter headings in old novels and textbooks, they can be an effective retrieval tool);

·         a concise Summary presenting the key ideas, results, an Abstract, illustrations, and references from a full-length article that has been refereed in the normal manner; regarded by some as the ideal format for retrieval. 

See also: Gisting, Indicative abstract, Informative abstract, Report

Synthesis is the process of combining Data, Information, and existing Knowledge in order to produce a connected whole, such as a hypothesis, theory, or system; a Research Report; or the development of a Thesaurus or Classification scheme.  See also: Analysis, Business intelligence, Intelligence, Intelligence analysis.



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