Friday, August 22, 2008

CI and LinkedIn redux

Last week, the Marketing the Law Firm newsletter published an article called "LinkedIn: A Competitive Intelligence Tool." Because the article was repurposed on it got more coverage than it deserved.

The gist of the article was: "Look at the fascinating competitive intelligence that can be harvested from the information that lawyers display on LinkedIn!"

To which I say: Phooey!

The patterns the author thinks she found (and, for some reason, values) in the LI data she reviewed could have been investigated much more accurately by reviewing law firms' Web sites, Martindale data, and LexisNexis and Thomson info-aggregator tools.

I won't pile on much more, since the article's been appropriately excoriated by Jayne Navarre and others on the Legal Marketing Association's listserv and at The Legal Watercooler, where an anonymous commenter aptly described the article as "CI numerology." What a wonderful term of art that is, and one I plan to borrow.

But more frustrating than the overreaching interpretations in this article is that it continues to confuse law firm readers by suggesting that any of this mess is intelligence. It's not. There's nothing that a firm would or could or should do as a result of discovering any of these patterns she claims to see.

Information strives to answer the question: "So what does this mean?"

Intelligence strives to answer the question: "So what does this mean we should do?"

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