Competitive Intelligence and Technology Watch From Patent Information to Leverage Innovation

Competitive Intelligence and Technology Watch From Patent Information to Leverage Innovation

Sérgio Maravilhas (UNIFACS Salvador University, Brazil), Sérgio Ricardo Goes Oliveira (Salvador University, Brazil) and Paulo Melo (Salvador University, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3012-1.ch014

Abstract

Information is an indispensable resource for the functioning and survival of organizations. To compete in the global environment of rapid change, where currently they are located, information is needed to help them innovate and gain competitive advantages in the markets in which they operate. Patent information can provide an increasing competitiveness through the technology transfer that it motivates and proved to be very important economically by encouraging creativity and innovation. It is argued that coherent and effective consultation of the information resulting from research and development activities with industrial application, performing competitive intelligence, and technology watch can leverage innovation and generate competitive advantages in business. The goal of this competitive intelligence and technology watch is to stimulate creativity, leading to new product/process development and the consequent improvement of innovation rates with cost efficiency. Some examples of the use and application of this information resource in different types of industry are presented.
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Background

Competitive Intelligence (CI) is the use of public sources to develop information about the competition, consumers, and market environment (Miller & Business Intelligence Braintrust, 2002).

Competitive information is needed to clear decision-making about what products develop, for what customers, at what cost, through which distribution channels, reducing the uncertainty that a new product development always brings with it. CI tools allow the knowledge of competitor’s moves and the analysis of trends from the communications exchanged in the networks of individual consumers, making it easy for companies to develop solutions according to their clients and prospects desires.

As an excellent information source, the Internet provides significant opportunities for CI (Sage, 2013). Internet search engines have been widely used to facilitate information search on the Internet (Gomes & Braga, 2001; Taborda & Ferreira, 2002). However, many problems minimize their effective use in CI research (Bedell, 2011; Kahaner, 1997).

Many major companies have formal and well-organized CI units that enable managers to make informed decisions about critical business matters such as investment, marketing, and strategic planning (Prescott & Miller, 2002).

Traditionally, CI relied upon published company reports and other printed information. In recent years, Internet has rapidly become an extremely good source of information about the competitive environment of companies (Hawthorne & Cromity, 2012; Ojala, 1989; Revelli, 2000; Sage, 2013).

Patent information, publicly available on the internet, free of cost, allow the knowledge of competitors’ movements and their business strategy from the documents of their patent applications and patents granted. Several web sources like Espacenet from European Patent Office (EPO), United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), PatentScope and several other databases from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), among others, allow the current awareness from competitors and new entrants in a company area of research and development (R&D).

Nowadays, these tools make it easy to retrieve primary information that, after filtered and analyzed, allows faster decision-making and competitive moves.

The goal of this work is to explain how to do it, which tools are available, and the type of data and information that can be collected and extracted from them.

We will start describing CI, and Patent Information, and conclude with a few ideas for analyzing patent web sites to identify competitive signals and trends.

Patent information is an important information resource that is freely available, which is easily accessible across different digital platforms based on the Internet, enabling a stimulus to creativity that can motivate new innovations (Maravilhas, 2009; Maravilhas & Borges, 2009).

Repositories of patent information, in the form of databases and digital libraries, are a major source of scientific and technical information1. There are about 90 million published patent documents worldwide, most of them containing information not available anywhere else (Bregonje, 2005; Greif, 1987; Marcovitch, 1983). Even the information that can also be found in other documents, such as scientific papers, technical reports, conference proceedings, and dissertations, it is not described with the same degree of detail and they take longer to reach the public.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Competitors: A company in the same business or similar industry which offers a similar product or service. Competitors can lower the prices of products and services and gain a larger market share, reducing clients and lowering profits.

Innovation: The application of new knowledge, resulting in new products, processes, or services, or significant improvements in some of its attributes. A new solution brought to the market to solve a problem in a new or better way than the existent solutions.

Market Needs: Businesses should start by knowing the consumer's interests, desires and needs. It’s easier to sell what consumers want and need than try to sell something they don’t see the benefit in buying. In a fast moving world, it should be a competitive edge having the chance of monitoring the market, detecting what can be a source of a profitable new business. Market needs inform organizations about what products develop, for what customers, at what cost, through which distribution channels, reducing the uncertainty that a new product/service development always brings with it.

Patent Information: An important information resource that is freely available, which is easily accessible across different digital platforms based on the Internet, enabling a stimulus to creativity that can motivate new innovations. Publicly available on the internet, free of cost, allow the knowledge of competitors’ movements and their business strategy from the documents of their patent applications and patents granted.

Market Trends: Trends begin by knowing the consumer’s interests and needs. Market trends inform organizations about what products develop, for what customers, at what cost, through which distribution channels, reducing the uncertainty that a new product/service development always brings with it.

Market Intelligence: Data and information collected by commercial and industrial organizations about their competitive environment to support good decision making. Makes possible to compare our market share with our competitors and take actions to maintain or improve that share.

Strategy: The way an organization chooses to do his business in order to surpass competition and gain consumers preference. What is going to do, how, for whom, using what resources, and so forth. It’s the plan to conduct business, maximize profits, allocate the needed resources, and stay in the market as long as possible. Includes foresee what can happen, using forecasting methodologies and tools, in order to avoid problems or, if they happen, be prepared to minimize their effects.

Business Management: The activity of conducting all the necessary operations in order to make the organization grow, benefiting all the shareholders and stakeholders and the society in general. It involves several specialized functions like finance, marketing, operations, human resources, production, etc.

Information Search: Discovering the sources where the answers to our questions and doubts may be obtained. Information is the reduction of uncertainty, allowing taking decisions more effectively.

Creativity: Creativity is based on reasoning that produces imaginative new ideas and new ways of looking at reality. Creativity is an individual process, arises from the idea that popped into someone's head. Relates facts or ideas without previous relationship and is discontinuous and divergent. No creative process exists if there is no intention or purpose. The essence of the creative process is to seek new combinations.

Competitive Intelligence: The use of public sources to develop information about the competition, consumers, and market environment. It aims to monitor a firm’s external environment for information relevant to its decision-making process. It involves accurately identifying your information needs, collecting relevant information, analyzing it, communicating the results to the people who need it, and taking rapid and appropriate action. Recently, Internet has rapidly become an extremely good source of information about the competitive environment of companies.

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