Technology intelligence has become a decisive business practice to compete in an increasingly digital, global and dynamic environment such as the present-day. Especially for technology companies, knowledge-intensive organizations and leaders in R&D projects.
In fact, strategic monitoring and intelligence practices, linked to advanced information and knowledge management, help all types of organizations to be aware of the latest news from competitors and systematically monitor what is happening. Moreover, to anticipate changes and make informed decisions, minimizing risks and taking advantage of opportunities for innovation. In this practical guide to technology intelligence you will find the main keys and its conceptual and practical foundations:
Concepts for monitoring and intelligence
There is no single definition of technology monitoring or competitive intelligence, but multiple fields of application. Depending on the scope and size of the activity, these business practices linked to advanced information and knowledge management are given countless names. Besides, monitoring and intelligence are related between them, but they are two different concepts. Monitoring puts the effort into detecting and monitoring strategic information for the organization, while intelligence focuses on understanding, interpreting and contextualizing that information to transform it into useful knowledge for the organization. The most common concepts in surveillance and intelligence are:
- Active or passive technology monitoring or watch
- Monitoring and technology intelligence
- Competitive intelligence
- Economic intelligence
- Strategic intelligence
- Technological forecast
- Key Intelligence Topics (KIT)
Intelligence cycle stages
There is a general agreement on the monitoring and intelligence process stages called the intelligence cycle. Actually, this cycle aims to answer some fundamental questions:
- Which target should be known?
- What has to be watched?
- Who can provide this information?
- How to capture, process and organize the information to extract its major value?
- Which tools are needed for this?
- To whom and how to communicate the results?
- How to measure the benefits regarding the efforts?
There are multiple methodological proposals to answer these questions. To help them set up a focused, cyclical, systematized and collaborative process in the organization, the main intelligence stages are:
Stage 1: Diagnoses and priorization
Challenge: to identity, specify and detail the target to monitor.
To do this, it should be clear which technologies to monitor, which are the information needs and which are the Key Intelligence Topics (KIT). Those are strategic topics to bar in mind for formulating priorities, and can be:
- KIT on strategic decisions: referring to strategic issues for the organization, especially regarding strategic planning and its implementation. For instance, R&D policies, business plans, investment decisions, internationalization, etc.
- KIT on early signs: capable of identifying potential future threats and opportunities for the organization. For instance, trends, new technologies, legislative changes, market niches, etc.
- KIT on key players: related to the stakeholder’s monitorization in the market. For instance, competitors, customers, suppliers, partners, regulators, public decision-makers, etc.
Stage 2: search and information gathering
Challenge: to design and implement the information-gathering strategy.
For this, the information search target is defined and the strategy is set up to specify the needs and to locate and gather information in an organized manner. This involves tasks such as keyword identification, expert validation, selection of information sources and search equation formulation.
This stage requires a range of skills going from knowledge information monitoring, critical analysis capacity and technical skills for efficient computer tools management. As well as learning and developing supportive digital skills to manage “intoxication” or over information that emerges with the Internet.
Among the useful resources available on the web, OBSERVA offers relevant information on science, technology and innovation produced in Ibero-America. The results are organised according to strategic information sources for technology monitoring, such as:
- Technological offers and requests
- Patents and research results
- Fairs and congresses
- Regulations and legislation
- Calls and funding grants
- Innovative projects and good practices
- Open learning resources, among others.
Stage 3: information analysis
Challenge: to process and analyse the information gathered
To do this, information validation criteria, information-analytical techniques and specialized computer tools are combined to help the team in the selection the relevant information according to the search targets.
At this point, tools such as technology maps, patent software, bibliographic managers, information visualization or comprehensive technology monitoring software are essential.
For this reason, in #MoocVT, the e-learning community specialised in technology monitoring and intelligence you will find detailed information on specialized tools to carry out monitoring and strategic intelligence. Find more here.
Stage 4: Valuation of relevant information
Challenge: to value the obtained results through the elaboration of intelligence products.
It is essential to carefully analyse the valuable information for decision-making and develop effective monitoring and technology intelligence products with relevant results.
Many organizations publish specialized reports and newsletters regarding the sector and industrial innovations, technology and trends. In sector information section, you will find specialized information for each industrial sector, such as:
- Technology newsletters.
- Technology monitoring and reports.
- Prospective reports.
- Market studies.
- Patent studies.
- Specialized reports and newsletters etc.
Stage 5: Dissemination and communication
Challenge: to disseminate the results to the people with decision-making responsibilities in the organization.
To do this, an effective internal communication strategy must be designed and distributed throughout the organization, meeting the staff information needs. The communication means must be widespread covering both informal and formal ones. Besides, it is increasingly important to be able to involve all the human capital in the monitoring and intelligence process so the results are really used in organizational decision-making.
Stage 6: Decision making and actions
Challenge: to support the decision-making process in the organization.
Taking into consideration the previous stage, internal and collective reflection on the technological, productive and competitive implications of the results obtained should be promoted. It is about interpreting results and proposing action possibilities to support the continuous decision-making process. This last phase shows how strategic intelligence is the reason to effectively undertake these efforts in organizations, so promoting innovation in business strategies.
Tools for tech monitoring and intelligence
Technology monitoring and intelligence tools are essential to gather, process and transform a large amount of data and information into useful knowledge for decision-making. There are multiple types of computer tools and software whose application depends on the information type and the resources available. The most extended are:
- Alerts: usually customised services for automated monitoring of updated information. In general, they are based on subscription or syndication (RSS). For example:
- Specialized search engines: information retrievers focused on a specific type of source, subject or sector. For example:
- Specialized databases: structured information retrieval allowing more advanced data treatment. For example:
- PhD Thesis databases and research reports:
- Metasearch engines: allow a single search on multiple search engines simultaneously, offering the results on a single screen and in an organized and hierarchical manner. They provide comprehensive results on a multitude of information sources and provide an overview of a specific topic. An example is OBSERVA with the metasearch engine in Science and Technology produced in Latin America.
- Marketplaces: useful tools for promotion and commercialization of technology. They offer access to technology offers and requests published by researchers and companies, as well as partner search processes for transnational R&D projects. Find out more here.
- Technology monitoring software: these are technological solutions designed for comprehensive and systematic management of technology monitoring practices. There is a wide range of offers, some free of cost, others by licence or SaaS, attending different sources of information and functionalities. For example:
To check more options visit #Open_tools in #MoocVT.
Resources to get started in technology intelligence.
Increasingly analyzing valuable information and communicating its potential to decision-makers is essential for the success of a monitoring and intelligence strategy in an organization. Therefore, the OVTT makes available to users and organizations interested in implementing strategic business practices, a wide variety of resources, tools and activities to get started: