How Hannibal Used Emotional Intelligence to Defeat the Romans at Trebia

Yeah that's right -- emotional intelligence in big data business analytics is like having flipping war elephant!

When you apply business intelligence management to utilize the emotional motivations of a market or competitor, the results can trigger an overwhelming victory. One of the most impressive historical examples of this is how Hannibal used emotional intelligence to gain allies and defeat the Romans at Trebia during the first major conflict of the Second Punic War.

Shortly before the winter solstice of 218 B.C., Hannibal’s army surprised Rome by successfully crossing the Alps and settling in the Po Valley. Here, Hannibal further infuriated the Romans by quickly defeating the local Roman consul Publius Cornelius Scipio’s forces. Moreover, knowing how the nearby Gallic tribes resented the Romans, Hannibal encouraged them to successfully rebel against them.

Of course, before long, orders came from Rome for consul Tiberius Sempronius Longus to join forces with Scipio in preparation for engaging Hannibal’s men. Not one to be surprised, however, Hannibal had already learned that Sempronius had a quick temper and a reputation of being a hothead. Using his emotional intelligence, Hannibal realized that Sempronius could therefore be manipulated to the Carthaginians’ benefit.

In the early hours of Dec. 18, Hannibal dispatched his brother Mago with 2,000 men to lie in wait in a streambed for the conflict that was to occur later that day. Meanwhile, Hannibal sent members of his cavalry across the Trebia River to harass the Roman outposts. As Hannibal knew, this would enrage Sempronius, who immediately ordered his entire army to give pursuit and engage the Carthaginians. So the Battle of the Trebia began, securing Hannibal’s first victory of the Punic War.

It didn’t take long before the flanks of the Romans were terrorized by both Mago’s men and Hannibal’s war elephants. Soon, the Roman forces were utterly defeated, suffering by some estimates as many as 20,000 casualties and losses that day. This was all because Hannibal knew Sempronius had a short fuse and could be goaded into a battle he wasn’t prepared for.

Don’t Negate Emotions When Emotional Intelligence Can Help You Succeed

The lesson to be learned from Hannibal, of course, is that knowing what drives your potential market, as well as your competitor, is more than a mere marketing scheme.

In the instance of the Battle of Trebia, Hannibal knew that he could utilize the Gallic tribes’ antagonistic feelings toward the Romans to his advantage. By encouraging the Galls to do what they really wanted — namely, to take action against a common enemy — he simultaneously managed to distract and weaken the Roman forces.

In addition, thanks to Hannibal’s meticulously thought-out plan, Sempronius let his short temper make him and his men easy prey for the well-prepared Carthaginian forces. Instead of waiting to plan an engagement that made use of his highly trained army, Sempronius sent his forces rashly into a battle that handed the element of surprise to Hannibal before it even started.

In this instance, like so many other moments in battle and business, history was made by gaining the upper hand in an early form of information warfare where emotional intelligence played a pivotal role. Instead of applying an emotionless or objective approach to pressure-filled situations — which in reality is an impossibility when human beings are involved — strategically employing emotional intelligence based on actionable information allows you to simultaneously manage emotions and outcomes.

To Win, Utilize Business Intelligence to Know Your Market

While techniques of data gathering, analysis and communication have obviously changed and developed in the many centuries since Hannibal defeated the Romans at Trebia, the underlying lesson has remained the same. Whether in conflict or in business, the energy and effort spent on knowing your competition and market are some of the most crucial investments any organization can make.

Clearly, when you understand people’s emotional motivations, you have an upper hand — or at least an equal positioning — when it comes to your competitors. On a larger scale, understanding the emotional motivations of your market can be much more powerful. Knowing what they like and dislike — and why — provides you with the insights you need to fine-tune your product or service to be something they really want. It also provides you with the insights you require to market your product or service in a manner that appeals emotionally, in addition to giving customers the experience they desire. In short, the analysis done on both competitors and target markets are modern staples of any successful campaign — and they should always include research into emotional motivations.

Of course, who you have providing you with business intelligence management makes a big difference. Timely information means everything to today’s intelligence, defense and business communities. That’s why you want the best in terms of both technology and personnel. For this reason, there’s DataSync. We use better data so you get better results. Contact us today, and gain the upper hand.