Intelligence cycle refers to the process of information gathering, analysis, dissemination to the consumer, and feedback for further processing. The key steps involved in this cyclic procedure include direction, collection, processing, analysis, dissemination and feedback. The intelligence cycle is commonly used by governmental organizations to study the enemy's movements and, based on the intelligence, take decisions to preempt or counter any action from the enemy side. The intelligence is also used to make policy decisions.
The intelligence cycle is very relevant in today's context. With the recent advances in technology, it is very easy for anybody to collect and share information and intelligence. Unfortunately, the presence of terrorist groups and rogue states is a constant threat to the rest of the world and as such, intelligence needs to be gathered on their movements and analyzed to ensure the safety of people. Just imagine how many terrorist strikes have been averted by intelligence operations run by various agencies like the FBI and CIA (though we may never know the right answer). The intelligence cycle has played a key role in maintaining peace in a large number of countries.
The intelligence cycle is also being used by corporate entities to gather intelligence on their rivals and possibly on governments (to figure out and forestall any adverse policy changes).