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How to integrate Competitive Intelligence into the Innovation process

  • 2015-04-21
  • R&D

The key to success of an innovation does not lie so much in the availability of the technology, but in defining and providing direction to the technological change process. The true advantage that the company has is its capacity to recognise signals from the environment that alert it to threats and opportunities and to know how to interpret these signals so it can later define a strategy, acquire or generate the knowledge and technological resources that it needs, implement the technology chosen to realise the change and, finally, learn from this experience.

How to integrate Competitive Intelligence into the Innovation process

Innovation management defines how all these activities are integrated, it thus becomes a powerful management tool that is capable of substantially contributing to the success and development of the company.

Innovation management can be defined as "the organisation and management of human, technical and economic resources the purpose of which is to increase the creation of new knowledge and the generation of technical ideas that enable new products, processes and services to be obtained, or existing ones improved. As well as the transfer of these ideas to the manufacturing, distribution and operational phases so that the organisation obtains an economic benefit".

Innovation models have evolved considerably over recent years, from simple linear models to more complex, systematic and interactive models. There is no clear and definitive explanatory model of the path that should be taken from the time of the invention until it reaches the market. All the models included in the literature have shortcomings and question marks over them, up to the point where some authors conclude that up until now a generalisable innovation management model has not been developed (Forrest, 1991; Hobday, 2005), while others state that it will be difficult to reach this objective (Forrest, 1991; Cooper, 1983) or even question the attempt to develop a universal model of the innovation process.

In spite of the existence of numerous models that have attempted to explain what constitutes the innovation process, the majority of these are incapable of capturing the full complexity of the situation that they are attempting to describe. Nevertheless, it can be said that they all include a series of very common techniques and practices and that are repeated in the different models reviewed in the state-of-the-art.

Technological Surveillance and Competitive Intelligence TS/CI are two sub processes that are included by the majority of authors in these systematic models for innovation management. It is also important to emphasise that Spanish standards UNE-EN 166002:2014 and European standard CEN/TC 389 (Innovation Management) also include them and relate them to other sub processes such as idea management and the study on the knowledge of the organisation´s context or its competitive environment.

At INNGUMA, we believe that it is very important to link the innovation management process and the strategy management process to a systematic TS/CI process. It is one of the tasks that we carry out during our consultation processes when designing and creating a TS/CI unit in an organisation. Although we are aware that there is not a single innovation management model and it is also very difficult to represent as it is not a linear process, we propose one where TS/CI acts as a support and starting point for the main activities that any TS/CI model must consider:

Competitive Intelligence is fundamentally related to these processes, it feeds them continuous or specific information depending on the organisation´s interests:

Innovation strategy orientation: The innovation strategy defines the role of innovation and establishes the direction that the innovation execution will take. The innovation strategy must explore the possible evolution of the market and the scenarios, while selecting the most attractive market opportunities. Competitive Intelligence can help us in this task.

Innovation Process:

  • Creativity management: This checks that the TS/CI facilitates and promotes creativity by inspiring the ideation process within organisations, both in the divergent and convergent phases.
  • Project development: During product development, TS/CI can provide essential information that is necessary for making decisions during the different development phases of a project. Some of this Information may be linked to: products of competitors, patents, scientific articles on technologies under development, technical regulations, doctoral theses and market and sector information that lead us to design and develop a new product/service with particular technical-functional specifications.
  • Exploitation: The mechanisms used to exploit technological innovations obtained as a consequence of R&D activities or for the development of new products and services are tasks under constant review for their relevance within an organisation. Intellectual property management, technology transfer, entrepreneurship, the licensing of technologies or the study of business models, among others, are tasks where information acquires a specific and deterministic weight. A piece of information or report on the evolution of the market can drive the decision making of an organisation into taking the most attractive path at that time as regards that developed project. Technological Surveillance and Competitive Intelligence are ideally suited to feeding any of the aforementioned sub-processes and to study the ways to exploit a new project within an organisation.

If you want to integrate the TS/CI in your Company´s Innovation Management Process and need advice, you can contact us. Therefore, you can try professional software like INNGUMA for free requesting a demo.

Cooper, R.G. The New Product Process-An Empirically-Based Classification Scheme. R&D Management, vol. 13, 1983.

Forrest, J.E. Model of the process of technological innovation. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, vol. 13, 1991.

Hobday, M. Firm-level innovation models: Perspectives on research in developed and developing countries. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 2005.