“There are no secrets, only information you don’t yet have.”
Sometimes random thoughts on the internet can stimulate us in most unexpected ways, as this quote did with me today. In many ways, the statement is very true, at least as far as pharma competitive intelligence (CI) is concerned. Much of the information about products and companies is already out there, hidden in the huge mass that is the world wide web. Often, it is just a matter of superior search skills to ferret out crucial information or key people who may have access to the data you need.
Four things then become critical:
1. An in depth knowledge of the subject area in order to process what is important and what is not.
2. A logical and creative mind to find the information in the first place.
3. A relevant and useful network of contacts.
4. An ability to process both linear and non-linear data into valid patterns and trends as a commentary.
Is it an art or a science?
In the final analysis, like marketing, CI is a bit of both and one should never misunderestimate the power of intuition and gut feel. They sometimes make more sense than logic.
To me, it doesn’t matter if you use cool modern web tools or traditional methods as long as the data gathered is relevant and appropriate. Sometimes a mix of the two works well in tandem, sometimes one or the other is more useful.
However, there is nothing worse than getting a huge ‘book’ or summary sheets of data upon data and no analysis or interpretation. That’s NOT what CI is or should be, it’s undisciplined and inexperienced data gathering, much like imitation and processed cheese is very different from a crafted artisanal cheese. The old chestnut of quality over quantity still applies to CI to this day.
What does competitive intelligence mean to you?