Queen Elizabeth vs. The Spanish Armada: Business Intelligence Management

Any major part of big data analytics must include competitor intelligence analysis. Or you'll end up like these guys!

Learning never stops. It’s true in business, in life, and it’s true on the battlefield. 

Whether you’re discussing the military tactics of a country, the finesse of a business or the decisions of a reigning monarch, intelligence always gives an advantage — and a lack of it almost always leads to a loss. That’s why we’re looking back on one of the most ambitious and disastrous military campaigns in history.

How England Exemplified Business Intelligence Against the Spanish Armada

In 1588, years of discontent and disagreement between Queen Elizabeth I of England and King Philip II of Spain came to a head. A variety of factors — from the English Reformation, to England’s support of the rebels in the Spanish Netherlands, to the Queen’s rejection of Philip’s marriage proposal — culminated in Spain’s planned invasion to overthrow England. This came to be known as the “Enterprise of England.”

How did England prevail over the so-called Invincible Armada? They amassed an impressive collection of data and intelligence through the following steps:

  • They utilized spy networks: One of the most significant advantages given to England came from the lack of secrecy surrounding the Enterprise of England. Among historians, it’s referred to as one of the worst-kept secrets ever, which gave the Queen’s spies critical intel on Spain’s intentions.
  • They delayed the planned attack: After receiving the news about Spain’s planned attack, the English wasted no time. Under the one and only Sir Francis Drake, famous privateer, the English captured the port of Cadiz and burned around 30 vessels before destroying supplies for the Armada. This move offset Spain’s plans by a year.
  • They revitalized their warning system: With time on their hands, England moved to prepare themselves at home. They updated their warning system, which consisted of around 1,000 outposts on the coastline. When the Armada did arrive, the outstations were set alight, leading to a quick response from the English navy.
  • They assessed the fleet’s ships: Due to the lack of secrecy surrounding King Philip II’s plan, England knew what the sovereign did — and did not — have in his Armada. The English knew, for instance, that the 130-ship fleet featured only 35 warships. The rest were cargo ships that intended to pick up an army of 30,000 soldiers at the Flemish coast.
  • They adopted new tactics: At the time, England’s ships were renowned for their speed and maneuverability. They used long-range weapons, a distinct difference from Spain’s preference for close combat and crew boarding. During the battle, the English even introduced fireships (empty ships set ablaze and adrift) to stop the Spanish from receiving their 30,000 troops.

Of course, historians will note that the weather also aided in England’s success in turning back the Spanish Armada, which was reduced to a third of its original size.

Why England’s Response to the Spanish Armada Demonstrates Competitive Analysis

An important element of business intelligence management is competitive analysis — assessing your opponents to discover their advantages and disadvantages, as well as yours, plus their approach to everything they do from customer service to product selection to order placement. Your company likely already engages in some form of competitive analysis, but the success of England over Spain demonstrates how critical it truly is to your success.

In the case of England vs. Spain, the English practiced competitive analysis 24/7 with their intelligence gathering network. In doing so, they also recognized their own weaknesses, restoring their warning system and destroying some of the Spanish Armada in Cadiz to buy time. Additionally, England knew that they could not ward off an invasion of 30,000 troops, which is why it was a priority to prevent Spain from connecting with the Duke of Parma, the man supplying that army, and hence the burning of several ships.

Raise Your Business Intelligence With DataSync

At DataSync, we pride ourselves on our expertise and our ability to deliver top-tier business intelligence and competitive analysis that leads to gains in growth, security and profits.

Improve the competitive edge of your company by contacting us today to learn more about our business intelligence management solutions.