Some years ago the world’s spymasters & politicians fell out of love with Humint or the collection of intelligence through human sources. With drones, satellite imagery ....it was felt Humint had its day. Sadly it took multiple tragedies to underscore the importance of Humint. At the corporate level too, my personal view is there is currently a tendency to depend on systems to build or profile a customer. Sure CRM systems with their analytics and myriad dashboards are great at presenting information in visually appealing digestible chunks; but do remember data out is only as good as data in
What I find strange is the seeming lack of importance sales leaders, delivery leaders and account managers place on their most vital source of intelligence - the "onsite" employee!!
I have seen multiple accounts where the leads do not bother to have information sharing sessions or even pure water cooler gossip sessions with the associates on the ground. Remember people are people everywhere. They will gossip; they will exchange bits of information in casual individual conversations that put together can give a very good idea of what our competitor is doing in the account
The best part is this Humint is not forced or a conscious exercise. It is just meeting your team regularly and having a conversation in the course of which you may uncover some hidden gems w.r.t. future opportunities, pro-active pitches, competitor challenges, customer implicit pain points....
To me, any account manager or delivery lead should spend as much time informally with their team as in walking the customer corridors. Even if they are not onsite, a coffee hangout (virtual) should be organised once a week for 15 minutes. It is just a forum for team members to attend (not mandatory) and contribute any interesting news on the account they think may be relevant to TechM's positioning (current or future). This could be something as simple as a competitors architect looking around for a job because their project is not going well
Humint works both ways. Account managers and sales leads get bombarded with different "solutions". Do any of us try and push these "solutions" or summaries of these solutions to our delivery teams? I am not proposing a certification, but at least do we make sure our customer facing delivery teams know 1 line or the essence of what our various solutions are relevant to the client they are working for? Imagine my onsite resource is sitting having a coffee with customer associates and he/she is introduced to a new person who has joined the customer’s digital banking team. If my resource knew TechM has a strong digital banking practice, he/she could mention this. The intent is not a "sell", but to create a "hook" that could potentially lead to netting a big fish down the line