Expanding Your Business Development Strategy with Smart Competitive Intelligence
Tim Miller, Vice President-Product Management and Analytics Thomson Reuters Life Sciences

Rapid development in innovation and technology has made the bridges between different business areas shorter, while simultaneously making the competitive landscape larger. There are few industries where that is more evident than pharma.

Smart Competitive Intelligence professionals are stepping out of their traditional boundaries and rethinking the way they work with the rest of the business. These pioneers are engaging with the problems that the business needs to solve, like how to enter a new geography, how to predict the trajectory of a new drug launch or maximize the revenue from an end-of -patent-life drug, and are using information about competitors to do it. This is not industrial espionage, it's being smart about bringing together publicly available information from myriad sources and analyzing it to find the trends and patterns that help decision makers formulate their strategies .

There's a term for this activity: Big Data. The application of Big Data tools and techniques for these problems has become the newest advantage in analytics for several companies. It's daunting to consider the amount of information that can, should or needs to be collected before smart decisions can be made about how to proceed-What is the competitive landscape of the product? What's happening in the public or private sectors that could affect this decision? What's the latest regulatory news, if any? How does the global landscape look? Who is talking about this product/innovation/idea, what are they saying and why? What's the latest research and who are the key opinion leaders? What are patients talking about on Social Media?

Honestly, the list could go on. But you know most of these questions already . The real question is: How can I get all this information in a way that doesn't drain my resources?

Most businesses have collected information-either intuitively or practically-about their own landscape, looking "inside out". They know their strengths and weaknesses. They understand how they're viewed in the overall marketplace. They know what makes the numbers spike, and what makes them fall. But that should only be half of your business development strategy. The other half is working "outside in": knowing these things about your competitors, especially if they know them about you.

Getting a grip on your competitive intelligence strategy through intelligently designed data analytics means reducing your reliance on manual research, monitoring your competitors efficiently and effectively, and understanding your competitors' marketing strategies, including pricing, inventory and outreach. Not only will you improve your process in cultivating existing opportunities, you'll also come across those that have yet to be discovered.

If it was tough in the old days to keep up with all this information, then today it's virtually impossible. So much information, so little time and so little resources-unless you embrace the data management and analytic tools coming out of the Big Data revolution and factor them into your business development equation. Manual research isn't just impractical; it's a surefire way to miss the data you need to make your business stronger. There are only so many keywords you can type into Google Analytics until your required searches reach into the thousands and render themselves pointless. You could never uncover everything you need to know. Not in this day and age .

All this is well and good-but how do you start? Here's how: Develop a plan. Start small, don't try and "boil the ocean" in one go.

Align your thinking with the business's objectives, mission and goals. What is the business trying to do right now? How can competitive intelligence help? What do you already know about what current and prospective competitors are doing in the same space? What do you want to know? There's a lot of information out there; it's not called "Big Data" for nothing. The competitive intelligence data you need for one business opportunity will look very different from another.

Find out how you will gather and mine this information. Remember: You want an analytics system that is designed intelligently, with the pharma and bio world in mind. You want to do business with a company that knows and understands the data analytics business and has a solid understanding in the evolution of Big Data.

Know what you want to do with the information. With competitive intelligence , you're working in a somewhat backward fashion: You need to know in what format you need to deliver the end results before you can start. So, what are you going to do once you have the information? How do your customers prefer to receive it? What are they most likely to want to do five minutes after receiving it, how do you support that "so what" next step?

Understand that this is your story, not theirs. Gathering competitive intelligence helps you tell your own story. It's not about exposing the weak underbelly of your rivals; it's about knowing your rivals well enough that you understand your strengths, and how to share those strengths on a wider landscape.

Stay current. Competitive intelligence isn't a one-stop fad. It's something that requires your continued attention.

Creating and implementing an effective competitive intelligence plan can be a time consuming process. How can this be done while doing all the tasks that a Pharma Competitive Intelligence professional needs to do? For those with the time and the technical ability, there is a lot that can be done by "rolling your own" - doing the analytics yourself. On the other hand, many organizations offer services to build analytics for you. The best solution is probably a mix of both. Pick the analytics that best fit your core competencies, and do these yourself; then, get help with the rest. That way you can build your own skills in the long term without being overwhelmed in the short.