Thursday, August 2, 2012

I&A, the Business Model. Or something.

So I'm trying to wrap my brain around a way to get out there and use my brain to generate additional sources of money.  Which CFO-House usually transforms into apparel, or VP-Destruction demands for whatever the latest toy on the market is, but that's another issue entirely! 

My current line of thinking is some sort of consulting or analytical service, which I mentioned last month. 

First, a few disclaimers.

1.  Everything posted here is and will always remain free of charge.  The same goes for the I&A PDF.  I do those because I find it interesting, and because I'm apparently good at it, or so I'm told.

2.  Also free:  academic-related help.  I've assisted people who've contacted me with various things from finding sources to reviewing theses.  If you've got a question along those lines, or any other general question of amusement, don't hesitate to contact me.  You won't be getting a bill!

I've obviously started channeling brainwaves into cash deposits via my work with IHS Jane's, and will begin to pursue other similar opportunities as well.

The point of my new idea is to offer a fee-based service to, well, pretty much anyone, providing detailed analysis or imagery interpretation.  I haven't completely thought this through yet, with questions such as "do I need to set up a legitimate business" or "is there red tape to cut" still in the future.

The question right now remains:  is there a market?  Which can be translated as:  do you know of anyone who would benefit from such a service?  Pass my e-mail along to anyone you can think of that might be in the market for this kind of work.  Foreign clients are certainly acceptable, provided they aren't asking me to do something illegal under US law.

The idea is to take on analytical or analysis tasks and do the groundwork, delivering a finished product to a user.  The product can be a document, a KML file, or an annotated image or map.

The one caveat here is that if a user requests imagery-based analysis, they may have to provide externally-sourced imagery.  When we use imagery in Jane's, it's purchased directly from a provider so they have the rights to use it "for profit" (and lets us use imagery that's typically far more current than you can find in Google Earth).  I'll have to look into the guidelines a bit more from Google to see what's what with this issue.  Incidentially this is one of the main reasons I&A will never cost you a dime, because it prevents me from having to purchase rights to the imagery!

As far as a pricing system goes, I haven't thought too far on that either.  But I'm certainly not interested in making this my plan to join the 1 Percent, or throwing myself into an obnoxious tax bracket.  I do intend to use a per-project fee, rather than an hourly rate system, because it makes things a lot easier to deal with and I don't have to justify spending seven hours looking at one single image.

Once I get a better idea of the entire process, the pricing plan, and whatnot, I'll post a PDF file here outlining the way things will work.  I should probably get something together containing my areas of expertise and professional experience as well, that'd probably help.

So, is this a good idea, or have I completely lost my mind?

Which is always a distinct possibility.

9 comments:

RAJ47 said...

Sir,
Great idea.

Bryaxis said...

You have the archeological community which may be interested in a specialist of aerial/satellite pictures... Many researchers are looking at pictures, trying to find the past, and your experienced eye could help them, amongst other by offering training in such analysis.

Ivan Kalugin said...

You probably should just work as IMINT interpreter and/or specialist on defense matters for some organisation or another (JDW sounds good to me), while publishing articles "for fun".

The problem here is that if you do get access to the data from some organisation that you work for (ie if JDW gives you some non published sensetive data), then you need to keep in mind that you should not disclose it here.

Sean O'Connor said...

Archaeology is something I hadn't really thought of, good call!

I do get all sorts of fun imagery or information from various places already, which I'm sure the providers are quite pleased to have not seen appear either here or in I&A! 10 years in military intelligence does tend to give one a bit of respect for data security.

Dan Videre said...

You should step out of your comfort zone (air defense etc) and expand your portfolio (I&A) into other areas. Regrettably, in this age of media, one does not necessarily need much expertise to sell a product as long as the product looks good. Big media has the most money yet needs the least intelligence. Expand on your graphics capabilities. A close second to looking good is producing your product fast.

If you can’t bring yourself to dumbing it down, you can focus on various industries and their associated trade publications, i.e. mining, or real estate.

Add a section to I&A such as “Industries” or “Trends” and create. In any case, do not think of your self as an analyst but that of a writer and seek out the work as a writer would, with portfolio in hand.

My two cents anyway.

D.V.

Anonymous said...

Consider incorporating a little more GIS into your current work (which seems to have an emphasis on IMINT). This will sure keep you busy and may be a learning curve if you aren't familiar with GIS, but unlocks a lot of new possibilities. Once you start showing off your GIS skills, I'm sure you could find a lot of consulting opportunities. There are a lot of companies out there that could use some geospatial stuff.

Also, to repeat one of the other commenters, step out of your comfort zone (SAMs) and give something else a shot. It won't be easy, but it could work out. Lastly, taking the graphics to the next level wouldn't be a bad idea.

You have great skills and are doing a great job, so I'm sure you'll figure something out.

Ivan Kalugin said...

I would suggest on specialisation, as there are over 9000 general defense matters bloggers out there.

Nuno said...

Planeman also made a work like yours. What happened to him?

nico said...

Nothing wrong in trying to make an extra buck.

Have you tried contacting news organizations like CNN,NBC,etc...?
I could see where your analysis could interest them, maybe you could make a small demo about Syria or Egypt to show what you could bring to the table and make their shows appear more edgy/sexy....