What Makes a Good Intelligence Analyst?

  • Posted on: 21 April 2019
intelligence analyst

At RedCrow Intelligence and Crownox, we provide intelligence analysis within the security market. Based on my experience, I will begin to highlight the most important attributes of a security intelligence analyst using an intelligence cycle that we refer to in our own work. The objective of the intelligence cycle is to provide decision makers with actionable information and analysis that will thereby empower their decision-making and job process. Keeping this in mind, what makes a good intelligence analyst are qualities that enable the analyst to master each of the following four steps:

1. Collection of Information: A typical intelligence analyst should possess strong research skills and knowledge of language within the industry. The analyst should also be knowledgeable in the native language of the country they are operating in. In addition, an intelligence analyst should be curious, cohesive, openminded, diligent, focused and devoted to specific field of interest. A good intelligence analyst is a critical thinker with a relevant background who knows what to look for and has a clear idea ad understanding of the objectives at hand.

2. Processing of Data: The most important trait for an intelligence analyst to possess is critical thinking supported by technological abilities or skills, such as Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). To be able to effectively use technical resources is essential within the intelligence field today. This is especially true considering the overwhelming amount of data. The analyst should also have background information on the subject at hand in order to weed out any false positives. Lastly, they should be able to categorize information for faster processing.

3. Analysis of Outcomes: Despite being focused and detail-oriented, a good intelligence analyst should also be able to zoom out on a strategic level and look at the bigger picture based on historical trends. In addition to foresight, an intelligence analyst should be objective and maintain a rational approach when analyzing a security incident. The analyst should also be knowledgeable in the culture, history and geopolitics of the subject at hand. Moreover, there is the chance that an analyst heads down a wrong path during analysis and as such, it is equally essential for the analyst to be flexible and willing to change direction when this occurs. All of this would better enable the analyst to find meaningful patterns during the analysis stage of the intelligence cycle.

4. Dissemination of Outcomes: In the last stage of the intelligence cycle, the analyst should present the report in a simple, easily readable and understandable way following a methodical approach. The report should be supported by visual aids such as statistics, visuals, maps, graphics, graphs, etc. to help users understand and easily implement actionable. The end result should include an executive summary (history of topic, purpose of research), in-depth analysis and actionable outcomes drafted in the form of argument and counterargument. Again, the goal of this structure is to make the end product easy to read and follow.