Medical device companies' competitive intelligence teams often number no more than one individual tasked with monitoring competitors' activities. But competitive intelligence has the potential to drive significant strategic change throughout the organization.
Without the proper resource support, CI teams at device companies may never reach the level of sophistication seen at other life sciences or consumer products organizations. In short, device companies can be doing much more to boost their competitive intelligence strategic impact.
Competitive intelligence teams succeed when they're visible, have appropriate funding and staffing resources and focus on pure CI-related activities. This study provides critical benchmarks to help your company:
Restructure the CI team for success
Make sure that your CI team does not remain buried in the market research organization. Learn how to develop proper reporting lines and implement a more strategic organizational structure that will provide the competitive intelligence team greater visibility and generate greater strategic impact.
Align CI with strategic goals
Some medical device companies are using competitive intelligence to inform business development and C-level executives' strategic decisions. These demands from high-level stakeholders require CI teams to align with corporate-wide goals, a practice that many device companies have yet to implement. Learn how to transform your competitive intelligence team into a sophisticated strategic decision-support function.
Improve CI performance
Performance measurement is a tricky prospect for many decision-support activities. The same is true for competitive intelligence. This study provides real world examples and case studies of how medical device companies have implemented best practices to track the performance of their competitive intelligence teams and improve their impact.
Medical Device Competitive Intelligence Report Sample
The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 1, "Budgets, Staffing and Performance Measurement." The full report includes benchmarks for US, European and Rest-of-World budgets.
Functions Funding CI Budgets
Seeing the departments from which competitive intelligence teams draw funding often reveals a great deal about the groups that CI teams serve most and how these teams coordinate and reside within the organizational structure. Figure 1.6 shows the funding sources of surveyed competitive intelligence teams (Figure 1.6 appears in the accompanying summary). As shown, the largest and most common contributors to dedicated teams' funding are marketing and market research organizations. In fact, marketing groups fund 100% of CI's operations at two of the surveyed companies while market research funds 100% at another three surveyed companies.
Other functions that fund some level of competitive intelligence at participating companies include business development, strategic planning, knowledge management, new product planning and C-level executive teams. It is interesting to note the lack of consensus around funding sources among surveyed companies. Company A's funding source reveals that this team is part of a larger knowledge management group that oversees functions such as market research, competitive intelligence and library services.
Companies M and N — neither of which have dedicated competitive intelligence teams - fund CI activities out of a combination of marketing and new product planning (Company N) and market research (Company M). Market research's strong presence at Company M is not surprising as it is the most logical group from which to operate competitive intelligence in the absence of a dedicated team.
The following is excerpted from Chapter 2, "Empowering Competitive Intelligence Teams through Effective Structure." See the full report for detailed information on medical device companies' competitive intelligence team structures.
Create Director-Level (or Higher) Leadership to Increase Strategic Impact
Figure 2.8 shows the level of leadership heading competitive intelligence teams at surveyed medical devices companies (Figure 2.8 appears in the accompanying summary). As shown, 70% of the competitive intelligence teams surveyed have director-level or higher leadership in place. This arrangement is fortunate for medical device firms, as competitive intelligence teams led by positions lower than director generally have less access to strategic leadership.
A lack of access and strategic impact is one factor that most often leads to the cycle of staffing ramp-ups and downsizing among CI teams. Establishing a strong leadership position with access to strategic heads is the best method to break that cycle and empower CI.
The access to C-level executives and strategic planners by director-level heads allows competitive intelligence teams to communicate their findings to strategic leaders and demonstrate the impact of their recommendations to senior decision makers. Greater access also creates greater visibility for the competitive intelligence team's successes, thereby making the group less susceptible to downsizing.
When senior leadership at Company 6 realized that the manager of its competitive intelligence team had very little impact on the strategic direction of the company and no access to the executive team, the company created a director-level position to head competitive intelligence. The director of CI now has direct access to the company president.
Prior to the change, it was difficult for the less-elevated CI team to incorporate the strategic elements of intelligence gathering, according to an interviewed executive from Company 6. The teams' responsibilities included news article scans and pipeline analyses, but these responsibilities did not incorporate any strategic insights.
Now, with a director of competitive intelligence in charge, senior leaders send direct requests for strategic information to the team. This increases the reach of the team, makes it a more valuable piece of the overall strategic effort and helps the company make more informed decisions.
The following is excerpted from Chapter 3, "Competitive Intelligence Resources, Responsibilities and Tools." For detailed information on expanding CI teams' roles and responsibilities, please refer to the full study.
Make Field Reporting Easy by Incorporating Mobile Technology
Designated portals, databases and hotlines make it easier for mobile employees such as sales reps and business development professionals to report competitive intelligence when they come across it in the field. Without such tools, important competitive information can be lost. To garner the most success, interviewees report that portals need to be easily accessible via mobile devices like smartphones and PDAs.
Mobile technology, including smartphones, PDAs and laptops, has become commonplace for field forces. Training individuals to record intelligence on the spot ensures more accurate and detailed information — and more information, period. Waiting to get back to the office to log into a company database takes too long, and important details can be lost.
At one surveyed company, the CI team maintains a web portal and a telephone hotline that employees can access at any time if they come across pertinent data. An interviewee reports that making these portals accessible from the field was integral to the company's collection strategy.
Sales reps regularly input intelligence, but the gathering does not stop there. The CI team responds to virtually every input made by company resources. In this way, data collection "becomes a two-way street for information," according to an interviewed executive. When team members follow up with individuals who submit CI information, the advantages are two-fold. Employees see that their efforts contribute to a greater cause, and the CI team gets to probe further to glean the most detail from colleagues.
At Company 7, a formal system for collecting intelligence in the field is not yet in place, but CI leaders feel it would be useful. Still, the team does ask field forces to submit information via email or even by post-it note. However, an executive notes that "We need more formalized systems to be able to get those nuggets that are being seen and heard and bring that in to help bring a picture of what's really going on."