How to put risk, brand and market intelligence into context

Since the dawn of time, when we first picked up a stone, humans wondered what we could do with it. We have always had questions, and a burning desire to discover more. To do this effectively, we need context.

Many business intelligence, market intelligence, ESG intelligence, risk intelligence or brand intelligence tools (the list goes on) don’t work because they provide data without the right context. Or, the insights without the source data. This leaves stakeholders with doubts and uncertainty in a world where every decision has a ripple effect.

Intelligence in context perfectly combines the ‘why and how’ behind each answer with the answer itself in order to deliver clarity that inspires confidence. This enables decision-makers to explore, enrich and develop any hypothesis – narrow or broad - and never leaves them with queries unanswered. Empowered with as much or as little intelligence as they require, users can finally produce actionable insights about corporate strategy.

Comparing types of intelligence tools

Organisations have a buffet of intelligence tools to draw upon these days. While intuition can get a well-informed expert part of the way to a solution, the key to competitive advantage is data. Here are just a few forms of intelligence organisations are leveraging:

What is business intelligence?

Business intelligence is the technology-driven process of gathering data, performing business analytics and presenting results through data visualisation. Simply, it’s a broad term for gathering information and digesting it to produce actionable insights that help with business decisions. Business intelligence is generally tailored to senior, non-technical, users in a user-friendly format, such as charts, graphs, dashboards, and summary reports.

What is market intelligence?

Market intelligence is the process of gathering data-driven insights about industry trends, competitor performance and stakeholder activity. The purpose is to inform business strategy and decision-making to gain a competitive advantage. It can be used to perform competitive analysis on your company's performance in relation to the wider market landscape. For example, it can shed light on your market share in a certain service area or on a specific topic.

What is reputation intelligence?

Reputation intelligence involves gathering information from many sources such as social media platforms, online publications, and stakeholder data, to gain an understanding of market perception of a company and its brands. It is used to determine both key quantitative and qualitative metrics, such as the share of voice (SOV) and sentiment driving different stakeholder opinions. This then informs reputation management strategies and senior business decision-making.

Tools used to gather reputation intelligence include solutions like sentiment monitoring and analysis, social media listening, and machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) tools, and often produce a reputation score.

Read more: Reputation intelligence is 2023’s biggest competitive advantage

What is brand intelligence?

Brand intelligence is similar to reputation intelligence. It consists of collecting data which can help an organisation interpret what stakeholders and consumers think and feel about a brand. This involves measuring customer experience and brand perception through sentiment analysis, social media monitoring, and more to gain actionable insights.

The results can help organisations shape their marketing strategy - improving brand identity and brand awareness - or build product strategies.

What is materiality?

The concept of materiality in business helps to inform organisational strategy and risk management. Materiality appraisal is an important strategic process and output required as part of corporate disclosure. Double materiality and dynamic materiality are approaches that enable a company to identify, prioritise and track the key material risks and issues for its business. It is a fundamental part of ESG (environmental, social and governance) strategy and management and will encompass issues that may significantly impact business performance or stakeholder perception. A materiality assessment allows organisations to identify what issues to focus on, prioritise, and how issues have changed over time.

How is the use of intelligence tools evolving?

The way organisations collect reputation, ESG, risk and market intelligence is always changing, because the nature of the data is always changing. As the amount of information that’s relevant and available to a single decision grows, our approach also needs to adapt.

1. The world is more dynamic

Each day business leaders are asking, ‘what’s changed?’.

Accentuated by globally transformational events such as the pandemic or the sudden rise of ChatGPT, people need to accelerate their market understanding. These sorts of events reframed people’s world views and demonstrated that innovation and risk can evolve quickly.

To stay in tune with their stakeholders and their target audiences, organisations need a tight finger on the pulse, placed there not just by experience, but by real-time intelligence. to place their finger on the pulse much more tightly. Speed to insight is directly connected to management success. Gathering intelligence quickly allows organisations to position themselves as a leader, always one step ahead of risks, not a laggard, blind-sided by things they should have seen coming.

RELATED: Why the ‘dynamic’ in materiality assessments matters today

2. Market intelligence is more nuanced

Not only is the world more dynamic, but the scope of what’s considered important market intelligence is growing. Organisations need to understand vast global arenas, from the tidal changes to the gradual ripples, to be fully informed.

Our world is more connected than ever. Activity in Ukraine, Taiwan or Silicon Valley impacts corporate decisions across sectors around the world. There are many digital and social media platforms where discourse in different languages may need to be understood, and a single viral post may move a market.

A narrow view of your industry will no longer suffice; context from across the globe matters.

3. ESG intelligence

The way societies see the world and the issues that shape our world also greatly impact how businesses use intelligence tools. In particular, ESG has become a core pillar of corporate band rand strategy – central to materiality, risk and reputation. It’s woven into the very fabric of operations, from the everyday to the big picture issues. This introduces a suite of topics, trends, stakeholders and influences that now need to be considered during any form of corporate or market research and decision-making.

Read more on how ESG strategy is tied to business resilience

What is intelligence in context?

Why intelligence in context matters

Intelligence in context matters for multiple reasons. The combination of widely available intelligence tools plus the challenges presented by multi-faceted global markets is putting competitive advantage further out of reach for all players. To truly be leaders, not laggards, organisations must have proactive access to meaningful data, which gives them actionable insight in real-time and over time.

It’s not enough to have best graphs and charts in front of you: decision-makers must understand the integrity and granularity of the data to truly be confident in the quality of insight informing their strategies. If intelligence is the tip of the iceberg, intelligence in context is the wealth of high-value insight beneath the surface.

How does Polecat deliver intelligence in context?

Polecat’s responsible business intelligence™ platform offers unparalleled access to insight. Contextualising data from across the internet and social media, Polecat enables global companies to expertly manage reputational risk and create ESG strategies that build competitive advantage.

We leverage market-leading algorithms and an unparalleled diversity and volume of data sources. Our aim is to help people make confident decisions – based on accessible and real-time topics, trend, market risk, and stakeholder context.

By providing thorough onboarding modules and a constant helping hand, we facilitate your journey to independent discovery.

What are the qualities of intelligence in context?

The first and most essential quality of intelligence in context will be no surprise: it must be data driven. In fact, all forms of intelligence today should be.

What brings data intelligence into context is the unprecedented precision with which Polecat delivers insights from the universe of online source material. Polecat’s expansive, credible and validated list of sources covers timelines and geographies.

At a click, you can uncover a world’s worth of topics. You can visualise issues over time and geography, with at-a-click benchmarking, trending and stakeholder insight. And you can consolidate the impact of material across publications, media, and individuals.

Intelligence in context means not only listening to the entire conversation, but visualising it from different angles and viewpoints. This allows you to follow the ripples of impact and assess the trajectory of themes as they play out.

It shows you not just the wood and the trees, but the entire root system, leaves and the lifecycle of its every seed. Because of our sources, stakeholders can then think about COP 28 through the lens of every possible geographical, sector or sub-topic context, rather than the narrow field of trending searches.

Intuitive journey

Often, data tools fall into two categories. One provides all the information in the world, but it’s impossible to find the answers you’re looking for. The other is too high level, providing the strategic insight but none of the underpinning detail. Either way, users are left with unanswered questions.

The Polecat platform supports intelligence in context by providing a completely intuitive journey, from a question to clear insight and evidence.

No matter whether your question is straightforward and specific:

‘How did my latest campaign about the new product packaging perform?’

‘Which has more impact, Davos or Climate Week?’

Or complex and multi-faceted:

‘How has the invasion of Ukraine impacted food security conversations, and what does it mean for how fertilizers are being positioned globally?’

Polecat allows users to see the bigger picture and, if they wish to, drill down to the core ‘why’. You can easily click to navigate through additional perspectives, more detail and the ripple effects across issues to build an informed analysis or plan of action.

Moreover, the platform facilitates every stage of your intelligence journey. From query, to analysis, to reporting. So, you can always continue your journey to the next question, and the next, until you find the heart of the answer.


Intelligence in context empowers trust in the data and therefore the decisions you make. Too many solutions are black boxes, lacking in transparency. Our platform gives users access to all the underlying data and content driving our results. By uncovering the inner workings, you have greater credibility and confidence in the accuracy of the insights. Not only does the platform provide proof in the source, but it also gives you the context behind why something has happened so you can shape your actions accordingly.

Depth and breadth

Intelligence in context also means catering to the context you want. Providing results from every social media platform isn’t relevant if you only want to check one tweet. Seeing the top media coverage on a topic isn’t helpful if you can only see UK results, but need a global and multi-lingual view.

Polecat is very responsive in terms of the depth and breadth of intelligence it shows you. Depending on your needs, users can effortlessly switch their scope from a quick snapshot to a comprehensive analysis. It’s a Tesla and a Smart Car all in one. There’s no need to use the auto raising air suspension feature if you only want to nip to the shops.

Empowering strategic decision-making

The most important benefit of having intelligence in context is that decision-makers can always access any piece of information they want. No matter what topic or time period you’re looking at, for whatever reason, Polecat delivers as much or as little intelligence as you need to make a decision in real time. This gives you and your stakeholders confidence that you are leading, not looking over your shoulder.

Whether you want Tolstoy or the CliffsNotes, you can have it. Here’s just a few of the ways this benefits an organisation’s strategic position:

  • Visibility over your data taxonomies of choice
  • Actionable intelligence at your fingertips
  • Strategic insight over peers and market trends
  • Competitive advantage to protect against market changes
  • Contextualised data without the need for consultancy
  • Reassurance of corporate reputation and resilience

Use cases of market intelligence in context

The possibilities for intelligence in context are limited only by your imagination. Whether you want to investigate global trends and topics, explore what your peers are doing, or analyse the progress and impact of key issues for stakeholders, Polecat can be used for a variety of use cases.

  • Crisis management
  • Dynamic & double materiality assessments
  • Reputation management
  • Issue management
  • Peer benchmarking
  • Market analysis and market research
  • Brand strategy
  • Brand analysis
  • ESG strategy
  • Competitor intelligence
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Performance benchmarking
  • Stakeholder analysis and reporting
  • Impact analysis

Discover Polecat for...

ESG Monitoring

Corporate Enterprise

Proxy Season

Marketing, PR and Communications

How will artificial intelligence affect market intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine learning (ML) has transformed the value of data and insight for corporate intelligence. It will continue to accelerate our abilities in these areas. So how is AI being used to empower market intelligence and corporate decision making already, and how might this evolve? Ultimately, we believe it will be a closely blended relationship.

To enhance human intelligence and discovery

AI starts with human intelligence. AI is the product of our wisdom and expertise, taking it to new heights with fast analysis and intelligent search and so on. This empowers greater human discovery, enabling us to make the tools like Polecat that make expert insights ever more accessible.

At Polecat, we will always rely on a blend of human and artificial intelligence. We have a strong tech pedigree in our team which allows us to create and train robust algorithms, steering them in the right direction. Our users then bring critical understanding to the insights produced by these algorithms, lifting them into context of real-world decisions and impact.

Honing big and diverse datasets

Tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning enable people to harness more data than a human could begin to fathom. Not all content is equal, and Polecat’s proprietary algorithms help sift through big datasets to reveal what’s important.

For example, Polecat’s impact metric fuses multiple different measurements together, including significance, reach and relevance, from a wealth of sources. Impact reveals what really matters, so users can instantly pick out the diamond in the rough from thousands of mentions or social posts.

Learn more about our impact metric here

Assurance, accuracy, quality, completeness

How trustworthy are these insights? AI clearly gives a greater scale of insight than humanly possible, but how can we trust the outcomes are robust? This is why keeping humans in the loop is important. With our expertise at the starting point and your perspective throughout the intelligence journey, you can always be sure the results are reliable, relevant and actionable.

A constant evolution of Polecat and AI

Our team of technical experts are always exploring new processes and capabilities across our platform. We are currently using elements of machine learning to power future tools relevant to entity extraction and location identification. Going forwards, AI is something we will continually improve, train and develop to bring more human intelligence and context to our users.

To discover more about what intelligence in context can do for you, get in touch to talk to our team or book a demo.