3 Minute Read

In partnership with Forrester Research, Cipher conducted a study in March 2021 exploring how life science companies and third-party market and competitive intelligence (M/CI) vendors can best work together. The research was conducted with over 200 M/CI decision makers working at global life science organizations across North America and Europe. Participants came from all areas of the life sciences industry, including the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device spaces, in addition to contract research organizations.

-- Article Continues Below --

New call-to-action

Listen Now: 2021 Competitive Intelligence Trends



The findings paint a fascinating picture of trends developing within life science companies and their approach to M/CI. Increasingly, life science firms are turning to third-party M/CI vendors to support critical market and competitive intelligence needs across all product life cycle stages. However, these vendor relationships are not without challenges, and there are common inefficiencies that are experienced throughout the industry.  

In this summary, we’ll explore the key challenges life science companies are facing and the underlying efficiencies. We’ll end by outlining a new approach that can ensure a more unified, successful M/CI process. 

The Impact of Low-Value Tasks on  Decision Making

In the life sciences industry, M/CI is a prerequisite for success. With a strict regulatory framework, fierce competition, and major rewards for new innovations, it’s imperative that industry players develop and maintain a comprehensive, real-time overview of the market.

The core mission of any M/CI team is to develop strategic insights by analyzing data and information from a wide variety of industry sources. In the life sciences industry, it can seem like the data sources are infinite: not surprisingly 94% of those surveyed believe they spend too much time collecting and organizing data, and two-thirds are “very or extremely challenged” by the volume of data they manage. 

One explanation: the lack of a centralized resource for M/CI insights. Nine out of ten research participants cite centralizing resources and sharing knowledge across their organization as a challenge. This is further complicated as life sciences companies are increasingly relying on third-party M/CI vendors to support their efforts. 

When an intelligence team spends significant time or resources sourcing, wrangling, and organizing data from multiple sources, their time available for high-value work for the business is severely diluted. High value M/CI insights are derived in the analysis stage. Any firm that spends too much time on low-value tasks like data sourcing and categorizing is hindering their ability to generate meaningful competitive insights.

This short-changing of analysis has a detrimental effect on decision making. 82% believe their company is at least somewhat challenged when making decisions informed by M/CI, with two-thirds of director-level leaders stating they find this “very or extremely challenging”. 

Vendor Management Hinders CI Effectiveness

80% of the life science organizations studied rely on third-party vendors to support their M/CI efforts, however, 70% of these organizations find managing their relationships with these vendors “very or extremely challenging”. 

The three most commonly cited challenges when working with external vendors were managing vendor progress, reviewing deliverables, and centralizing knowledge. Internal challenges were an issue also, with two-thirds of those surveyed admitting that key third-party CI projects have been delayed by internal approval processes.  

One clear takeaway from this is that global life science organizations are struggling to effectively manage, review, and share deliverables from their CI vendors, significantly limiting their ability to execute an effective M/CI strategy. But what is driving these inefficiencies?

Inefficiencies in the Life Sciences CI Process

A major driver of inefficiencies in the way life sciences organizations work with third-party M/CI vendors is the lack of a centralized M/CI hub. Often, this lack of structure leads to M/CI activities being duplicated. Three out of four agree this is the case in their organizations and, even worse, 67% admit that they’ve paid for the same, or similar, CI activities on more than one occasion.

The issues with working with external vendors aren’t limited to duplication: many life science companies find it difficult to select the right M/CI vendor in the first place. 57% of those surveyed don’t have visibility into the past performance of their M/CI vendors, and over half admit it’s difficult for them to judge which vendor is best suited to a particular project. 

Clearly, the way that many life sciences organizations work with third-party vendors is riddled with inefficiencies. Firms are all too aware of this, and are prepared to invest in building a stronger infrastructure to address these challenges. 

One key investment many are making is a unified market and competitive intelligence platform.

Towards the Future: How an M/CI Tool Can Help

While no tool is a silver bullet, the right M/CI software platform can significantly speed time to insight by automating low value work, enabling M/CI teams to spend more time developing meaningful strategic insights. Many of the organizations studied have already invested in tools like this, whereas others are planning to implement these in the future. Firms stated a variety of reasons for investing in such a platform, including:

Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Cipher, March 2021

It’s clear that by investing in these kinds of platforms, many organizations are already addressing the inefficiencies in their third-party M/CI vendor management process. Others are taking proactive steps to do so, with investments for this planned in the next year. Such strategic moves to strengthen the M/CI function are always a sound investment in the long-term future of the organization.

Dive Deeper Into the Data

Want to learn more about how to overcome these, and some of the other most common CI challenges? Join Peter Grimm and Cinny Little for a full debrief of the study, and helpful information about how you can overcome the challenges the survey uncovered.

New call-to-action