With an ultimate perspective of performance and control of business development, economic intelligence (EI) there is a set of integrated and coordinated processes aiming at acquiring useful knowledge about the external environment in order to adjust: observation, management of knowledge, controls, collection of information, in depth analysis and useful recommendations on markets, customers and prospects, the legal and competitive environment, the value chain, the risk and crisis factors, etc.
In the service of the activity of creating the value of the business, these processes contribute in advance to capture in safely, and with a competitive advantage, opportunities, for which the relevant risk dimensions have been previously identified and assessed, particularly in non transparent or even opaque environments (penetration of market, partnership, merger, acquisition, tenders, etc.).
In response, these processes contribute effectively to manage the difficult predicaments facing the various forms of adversity or even of economic and financial crime (fraud and corruption, illegal payments, unfair competition, undermining the image, the reputation, the integrity, intellectual property, etc.).
So it is not question of vague reminiscences of old attacking strategies or espionage, but the ability to mobilize for the best, "intelligently" and within the limits of legality and ethics, all these resources, human and technical, to contribute to, by the enlightening of the decision-making process and to accompany the resulting actions to form af collective intelligence applied to the sphere of economic activity, as it could be used in the other areas of life in society – political, cultural, sports, etc. Far from segmented models which blindly obey pyramidal logics, riddled with certainties, the culture of economic intelligence favours modes which have seamless organization and management, taking advantage - and profit – from the internal resources, whose operational capabilities can be extended as necessary by those of specialized providers that share the same values and standards. Anglo-Saxon literature, among others, is rich in quality works that describe how an organization can become intelligent, i.e. 'learning' (Learning organization), to be ultimately successful.
If it is necessary in our time to organize and structure the function of intelligence within a company regardless of its sector of activity (industry, services, finance) and its size (the TPE to the international group), it is that the intrinsic quality of products and services offered, the honed instinct of the leaders and the quality of the experts are no longer enough to secure its place in the market and to control it, in an ever accelerating timescale, the complex dimensions of international business which tends towards more globalized standards, now essential: legal and certification standards, good governance, corporate social responsibility, respect for the environment, anti-corruption and money laundering, traceability and business ethics laws, etc. While markets are swimming in an environment saturated with volatile information, difficult to discriminate, the decision-making process on increasingly important issues because of the phenomena of integration and interdependence, often carry high pressures to achieve the objectives and by investors eager to cash in on their investment. In this global context of exacerbated competition, economic operators, including African, can no longer live on their past achievements and escape the risk of significant loss of their share of the market, even at the local level, or even to risk of predation on the part of operators based in any other point of the globe. In these circumstances, the right to make mistakes is almost zero because the consequences of a bad decision exposes the economic operator to a multitude of risks of occurrence and variable severity, possibly cumulative, depending on the circumstances - transactional and operational risks of fraud and malpractice, non-compliance and liability, image and reputation - which, singly or combined, can lead to the economic death of a business even all of a commercial sector or to an employment pool.
Mastering its external environment, it is therefore to learn to use to its advantage the rules and mechanisms of globalization, which many operators are unaware or unfamiliar to access sustainably regional and international markets. It is also and above all to guard a lucid and responsible manner with a multitude of risks while there is a general trend to the criminalization of markets, amoral by nature and largely deregulated, which since is the so-called "crisis" - economic, financial, today's debts and has come to be characterized as moral. Indeed, globalization and acceleration of trade has greatly multiplied the number of possible combinations of business, good as well as bad. At the same time, the damage caused in recent years seem to have created "uninhibited" behaviour of a large number of employees and managers, of all functions and levels of responsibility, under the pretext of getting revenge on a system that has caused them harm - financial losses, or even promotion prospects or loss of employment.
To meet these challenges, economic intelligence offers a range of expertise and effective methods, human supported by the appropriate tools, which allows them to anticipate the risks and threats in order to prevent or mitigate the consequences. In this area as in others, the African countries markets, overall with thriving economic and societal growth with certainly disparities, in transition from aid to development, could benefit to make a qualitative leap, or even rupture their current methods of organization and practices without having to catch up on an alleged delay in relation to the so-called developed world, by reproducing foreign models which have shown their own limits.
The use of business intelligence is justified by the fact that African markets are not only that part of market of demand rather than supply, which should be the subject of precautions and checks than on the part of foreign investors. Important sectors of activity, especially agriculture and natural resources, are in the process of structuring and utilization by achieving more processing on the spot; they represent volumes and values which are constantly on the increase in order to meet the needs of the growing Western, Oriental and Asian markets, which fundamentally reverse the economical-political force between Africa and the rest of the world. This situation justifies and requires for African operators African deployed on the continent, the use of the same preparatory measures of precaution to customers, investors and foreign partners. Internally, the fact that African markets are becoming a wide range of partnerships and cross competitions creates opportunities and generates litigation which justifies the use of modern methods of economic intelligence throughout all the stages of the projects, from their design to their completion.
Thus, the increasing interest in the African continent whets the appetites of economic operators and regional and international financiers from every continent, attracting the good as well as bad partners and investors. Only a lucid and responsible approach inspired by the principles of economic intelligence, incarnated in a constructive dialogue between the State and the private sector, will calmly address these new investments on a continent that some now do not hesitate to qualify the new Eldorado.