Some definitions of these three key terms are as follows:
- Knowledge in raw form
- Information that is capable of being understood
- Information with added value
- Information that has been evaluated in context to its source and reliability
Analysis (of either information or intelligence)
- The resolving or separating of a thing into its component parts
- Ascertainment of those parts
- The tracing of things to their source to discover the general principles behind them
- A table or statement of the results of this process
Understanding properly the difference between these terms and how they interact is important, however, even at this early stage, these definitions point to key differences. Information is quite simply raw data of any type, whilst in contrast intelligence is data which has been worked on, given added value or significance.
All these decisions involve applying our natural ability to “analyze” information, an overall process which can be usefully broken down into a series of stages, or questions we ask ourselves, as follows:
- What exactly is the problem; what decision do we have to make and why is it significant or important?
- What information do we already have or might we reasonably obtain that could be relevant to the problem at hand. Where is it/how can we get it?
- What meaning can we extract from the information we have collected; what does it tell us about what’s going on?
- Is there only one possible explanation, or are there other alternatives or options. Are some more likely than others?
- How do these affect the decision we have to make, are some options potentially better than others; do some carry greater risk of success and/or failure?
- Are we ready to take action with a reasonable level of confidence, or do we need to gather more information first? If so, what else do we need and where/how can we get it?