Sunday, January 25, 2009

Competitive Intel Gathering via LinkedIn's New Company Profile


Individuals looking to gather competitive intelligence have a new tool at their disposal: Company Profile pages on LinkedIn, which entered beta on March 20. The new feature, while useful to many, highlights the challenges of controlling the distribution of information about a company's inner-workings.

LinkedIn compiles company details, such as new hires, promotions, office locations, and career path information, by mining the data from LinkedIn users' profiles. The auto-generated page offers an uncommon glimpse into the internal processes of the profiled company. The results are particularly impressive for small non-public organizations, because information about such entities is particularly challenging to obtain.

A LinkedIn Company Profile is a fertile ground for the individuals who gather competitive intelligence. Unfortunately, while some of them could be are pursuing generally-accepted business endeavours (e.g., sales prospecting, market analysis), others may have more nefarious plans (e.g., corporate espionage, social engineering).

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