Today, information must be considered as a source of energy, like oil and gas, albeit an immaterial form of energy.
The easy access of economic intelligence creates opportunities as well as threats. Economic intelligence (also known as EI) means smart information management in order to know, understand and anticipate the outside environment, (key competitors, rules, stakes, trends...) to prevent risks, particularly in immaterial fields, and to exert ethical influence.
EI is closely linked to knowledge management and to human resources, because people have explicit and implicit knowledge that will be revealed only if reliable processes and real motivation exist in the organisation. For all international players, be they states, big firms, or non-state organisations, EI is a tool for competition as well as a tool for governance and for national security.
The ultimate goal of EI and knowledge management is to produce added value, in two steps: transform information into knowledge and knowledge into sustainable added value.
The EI concept gathers several other concepts and practices: competitive intelligence, economic security, risk management, lobbying, public diplomacy, soft power (governments), business diplomacy (companies).