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Earlier this year, Cipher Systems commissioned a study with Forrester Consulting to learn more about the challenges market and competitive intelligence (M&CI) teams at leading life science firms.

The research consisted of a custom survey of more than 200 competitive intelligence decision-makers from leading enterprises across North America and Europe. The findings offered an interesting paradox. The life sciences industry has arguably the most mature commercial applications of M&CI. But across the industry, organizations are unwittingly handicapping their M&CI teams. 

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Inefficiencies in Competitive Intelligence Plague the Decision Making Process

Executives understand the premise––and value––of competitive intelligence. Despite that, they often struggle to effectively implement intelligence gathering and analysis systems. 

82% of respondents stated that their organization is at least somewhat challenged when making decisions informed by competitive intelligence. Two-thirds of directors stated that this was either ‘very challenging’ or ‘extremely challenging’ . 

Embracing competitive intelligence in the decision making process has clear value. It helps leaders remove bias and subjectivity from their decisions, and recognizes a universal source of truth to help firms better navigate their market landscape. Why then, is making decisions using competitive intelligence such a challenge for so many life science corporations? 

It’s More than Surviving the Deluge of Data

Competitive intelligence professionals are buried under an avalanche of data. In today’s world, there’s simply so much data available. Discerning the signal from the noise can be a major time drain. 

94% of those surveyed believe that their organizations spend too much time collecting and organizing data, while 85% find the number of data sources they have to manage challenging. The more time competitive intelligence teams spend on data collection, the less they have to analyze that data and discover competitive insights. Besides, modern AI technology is far superior to humans in processing and analyzing large datasets. 

To address this challenge, firms are increasingly turning to market and competitive intelligence platforms. 81% of the organizations surveyed are planning to expand their investment in these intelligence platforms over the next 12 months. 

The rationale for this is clear: 61% of firms believe increased investment will drive better data quality. Nearly half of respondents felt that embracing this technology would increase employee productivity by automating low-value work. It’s these silent sources of low-value work that represent the greatest challenges to M&CI teams.  

While this is the most obvious and well known low-value work CI teams struggle with, managing data is far from being the only issue that life sciences M&CI teams grapple with. Collaboration also represents a major challenge. This is true in respect to both breaking down internal silos, and in working efficiently with third-party M&CI vendors.

What’s Silently Draining Your CI Team? 

A second major takeaway from the research was the inefficiencies present in the way organizations collaborate with trusted CI partners on competitive intelligence initiatives. 

Four out of five life sciences organizations work with third-party vendors to gather intelligence, and three out of four rely on vendors to help analyze real-world evidence. Despite this, firms struggle to effectively manage these relationships: 70% of the firms surveyed report that managing these vendors was either ‘very challenging’ or ‘extremely challenging’. 

Managing 3rd vendors - 533 x 300

Firms struggle to manage vendor progress, review deliverables, and centralize intelligence insights across the organization. Two-thirds of firms acknowledge they’ve paid for the same activity more than once, and over half have no visibility into the past performance of their intelligence vendors.

These relationships are clearly riddled with inefficiencies, but investments in technology promise a brighter future. 

Nearly two thirds of the organizations surveyed believe a centralized competitive intelligence platform, complete with a vendor management portal, could help them better manage their relationships with third party intelligence partners. Over 50% are willing to invest in solving this challenge. Firms are willing to invest in platforms that enable them to better collaborate, both internally and externally. A centralized platform to share insights represents a major value for life sciences firms. 

Toward a More Intelligent Future

Competitive intelligence is present across all stages of the life sciences product lifecycle. At present, many of the largest organizations continue to grapple with organizational challenges even as they look for better ways to incorporate competitive intelligence into their decision making process.

The advent of more sophisticated technologies foreshadows a brighter future. Technological developments in competitive intelligence software are increasingly automating low-value tasks and boosting collaboration. This frees competitive intelligence practitioners to dedicate more time to high-value analysis and strategy tasks that drive meaningful competitive advantages. 

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