Marc Limacher The Importance of Competitive Intelligence in the Biotech Industry
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By Marc Limacher


Marc Limacher takes a look at the importance of having a systematic competitive intelligence process in place, with a particular focus on companies in the biotech, life sciences and IT industries.


Competitive intelligence (CI) adds value across the organisation by supporting decision making at all levels and for a variety of purposes, including R&D, business development, M&A, marketing and strategic planning.

Allocating resources to a systematic competitive intelligence capability is important for companies of all sizes, particularly those in the biotech industry where drug development costs are estimated to be over $1billion.

Systematic CI tracking also means that urgent or ad hoc, CI enquiries can be addressed more easily.

CI is Important at All Stages

CI is equally important for companies in the life sciences industry.

When developing new compounds, senior management need to know if it'll be financially viable to continue with development. The only way this can be assessed is by looking at what the competition are working on, in particular the clinical trial design, any trial results and perceptions of key opinion leaders (KOLs).

Based on this data, best, worst and realistic case scenarios can then be developed.

CI also helps with the later stages of the production process. Understanding competitors' pricing structures along with any manufacturing issues and their impact on production costs, enables the company to optimally price and position their own products when they're ready to launch a new product.

In the IT industry, with its short product lifecycles, ongoing monitoring of competitors' activities and product development plans can also yield substantial ROI.

The Need for Systematic CI

Key Intelligence Topics (KITs) need to be monitored on an ongoing basis in today's changing marketplace, and should include some of the following topics:

  • Regulatory timelines
  • Ongoing clinical trials of current and future competitive products
  • Competitors' sales and marketing strategy
  • Filing plans and launch strategies
  • Competitors' social media activities
  • KOLs' changing perceptions.

Ethical CI is a Necessity

To establish a real competitive advantage, you need to rely on primary human intelligence and not just secondary sources. This means talking to key opinion leaders, equity analysts, target company representatives and visiting conferences, all the while adhering to strict ethical guidelines.

Companies that have a systematic core CI capability in place are in a much stronger position to anticipate future events. As Peter Drucker says, "Whilst the future can't be planned, events often can be foreseen".

Editor's Note

FreePint Subscribers can log in to read and share more in Marc's article, The Case for Systematic Primary Intelligence Tracking with Tangible ROI.

This article is part of the FreePint Topic Series: Next-Generation Competitive Intelligence running from May-June 2014. Register your interest now, and you'll also get a free copy of the FreePint Report: Buyer's Guide on Competitive Intelligence when it's published in June.

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