Competitive Intelligence

LISA A. HAYES

Ortho Biotech Products, L.P., Bridgewater, New Jersey, U.S.A.

Competitive intelligence (CI) is defined as "accurate and timely strategic analysis of published and unpublished data that is collected and organized on a continuing basis.'' This intelligence offers a glimpse at what an organization's competitors are doing and where the organization itself stands relative to those activities, and it identifies potential opportunities as well as threats to the organization's business.

Whereas answering an information request from a customer usually results in a one-time search, acquiring CI is a continuous process wherein the practioner is involved in an ongoing dialogue with the client. The main difference between information gathering and CI lies in the analysis.

CI is a value-added function within any organization, and it is especially critical in a research-oriented industry

such as pharmaceuticals. Discovery research and drug development takes years and costs millions of dollars, so before any company undertakes such an investment, it must be sure of a new drugs profit potential and be optimistic about the marketplace. Pharmaceutical companies need to know about similar compounds in their competitors' pipelines and whether or not those compounds might one day compete for limited market share. Drug developers also need to keep abreast of the latest technologies and advances in the field, which they will often attempt to acquire before their competitors do. Alliances with biotechnology companies and academic research labs play a key role in industry today, so drug developers are always seeking information on potential partners. With a strong competitive intelligence function, senior managers have the information and analysis necessary to make informed decisions regarding the strategic direction of the organization.

The Intelligence Cycle is a continuous process of planning, information collection, analysis, and dissemination of the analysis. Once the particular request is answered, the process may start over again with an additional request. In the planning stage, the CI practitioner must identify the intelligence gap and determine what internal and external resources need to be employed to fill that gap. A strong knowledge of primary and secondary sources, along with strong research skills, are needed for the information collection phase of the cycle.

Analysis adds value to the information collection phase. CI professionals use inductive and deductive reasoning to produce a comprehensive package for the customer. Knowing when to use one analytical technique versus another and understanding when to stop any further examination are the keys to a successful targeted analysis. Finally, communicating the intelligence to the requestor allows the CI professional to engage in a dialogue and possibly start the cycle again.

The list of CI resources in this chapter should be viewed as a core collection for gathering business and competitive intelligence information about the pharmaceutical industry. It is not an exhaustive inventory. There are thousands of news, business, and financial Web sites available to the user and space limits what can be included. The sources below are well established, widely known in the industry, and provide broad coverage. However, this list is not static. It is important for the CI practitioner to evaluate new resources and information outlets on an ongoing basis. This can be done through association meetings, training courses, and networking.

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