There are still whole swathes of information that are useful for business intelligence that remain in the commercial domain. But increasingly, data is becoming a commodity.
And the proportion of open information is growing rapidly, opening up real prospects for SMEs and start-ups who have a vital need for organised intelligence.
In a world where information is the key to competitiveness, and where strategic and technological intelligence has become a necessity, controlling the cost of access to quality raw information has become a major challenge.
By way of illustration, when it comes to patent databases, we believe that some companies are still spending far too much money to access this information, even though it is increasingly available free of charge or at much more reasonable prices.
Whether you’re an SME manager or an intelligence analyst, you’re no doubt faced with this problem and have to manage a limited budget dedicated to intelligence.
In this context, the IPMetrix monitoring and analysis tool offers a real opportunity for rapid access to a multitude of open data sources with worldwide coverage, enabling you to set up a permanent monitoring process on the progress of your competitors, markets, customers or even new technologies.
At TKM we have also created the IZINOV solutions, which provide a truly accessible alternative for SMEs and start-ups.
Monitoring: a not-so-complicated but essential process
Whatever your sector of activity, technology watch and strategic intelligence are more essential than ever. They enable you to stay at the cutting edge of innovation, monitor the competition and detect market opportunities.
However, this monitoring approach is becoming increasingly professional, both in terms of tools and methodology. In fact, the abundance of information we have been bombarded with since the rise of the Internet has led us to believe that being well-informed is easy. It’s the end of a myth! And we all need to relearn the basics of effective intelligence, i.e. intelligence that feeds into the decision-making and strategic management process.
Accessing data is one thing. Classifying and analysing that data is much better. And sharing it to feed an internal process of strategic collective intelligence is the ultimate goal.
How do companies approach monitoring today?
SMEs, in particular, often devote more resources to monitoring than they realise.
But in the absence of organisation and effective tools, monitoring is limited to decentralised or even individual activities, without an organised, collective and methodical monitoring strategy.
Everyone monitors their networks, programmes Google alerts, reads a few specialist newsletters or follows a few key sources of information. But there is nothing to consolidate this monitoring at a strategic steering process level, and a lot of important information can remain under the radar for a long time.
Obstacles to an effective monitoring approach
Several factors may contribute to this finding.
Do you recognise yourself in the following points?
- Lack of resources: SMEs often have limited resources to devote to market intelligence. Of course, time is money. But it’s also a missed opportunity…
- Cost of databases: As a corollary to the previous point, access to specialised paid-for databases is often prohibitively expensive. And it’s even worse to pay a lot for access to a database that won’t be used… Not to mention the risk that this investment won’t pass the next budget review.
- Lack of training: Monitoring is not just a question of access to information, but also of methods and techniques for analysing this information and putting it to good use quickly. For lack of time or manpower, outsourcing on a timeshare basis can be a solution.
- Lack of analysis tools: Even with the right data sources, the volume of information is often too great to be processed manually. This requires filtering and analysis tools. These tools will also enable you to capitalise on this knowledge base over time, turning it into a genuine company asset.
Market intelligence is often perceived as a luxury or a secondary task, or even worse, a chore… whereas it is more than ever at the heart of a company’s strategic management.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
The cost and complexity associated with accessing and analysing paid-for databases can be obstacles, but they are not insurmountable. In fact, there are ways of making intelligence more effective and less costly, as we will see below.
Databases: essential tools in the intelligence process
Databases: what are they and why are they useful?
All research work, all conferences, all claims in the form of patents or trademarks, all collaborative projects (in France, but also in Europe or worldwide), all developments in standards, etc. are published and available online in searchable databases. This data is the raw material for any technology watch or strategic intelligence approach. Unlike general search engines, databases offer reliable, detailed content. They are also structured in such a way that they can be queried in great detail, which is very useful for monitoring purposes.
Once the right ‘search strategy’ has been developed and validated, monitoring can be easily automated.
The good news is that access is increasingly open and free.
The bad news is that this does not solve the problem of the amount of information to be processed – on the contrary…
Monitoring analysts are often overwhelmed by the mass of raw information they have to sort through. Even with a highly refined search strategy, it is not uncommon for 80-90% of the information reported by these automated watches to turn out to be irrelevant…
The solution of being more restrictive when it comes to collecting information is not satisfactory either, as it means running the risk of missing out on relevant information.
All these tasks take the person in charge of monitoring away from the really useful activities that should normally punctuate their day: disseminating information, creating collective intelligence, investigating subjects of interest in greater depth or digging up weak signals… In short, everything that makes the job of monitoring so interesting, but also what gives it its strategic importance. In this respect, AI can help you save precious time, particularly in the upstream filtering phases…
The cost of accessing databases
Free or paid?
While the use of paid databases can be justified (coverage, speed, advanced search functions, etc.), it is clearly no longer an obligatory step, especially for an SME that wants to professionalise its monitoring.
Fortunately, there is a happy medium between doing nothing in terms of monitoring (because it’s too expensive) and spending a fortune on access to raw data.
When it comes to patents, for example, there are free services operated by the patent offices themselves, which provide an initial level of access that is perfectly satisfactory for initiating a competitive and technological intelligence process.
If, at a later stage, it is considered useful to benefit from additional functionalities and this justifies moving to a paid service, very satisfactory offers can now be found at reasonable prices (from 3,000 euros per year, for example).
A quick economic analysis of the expected gains will quickly help you make your decision.
The cost will vary according to a number of factors, including the following:
- Number of users: this will be the case for most databases
- Data coverage: the more comprehensive the database in terms of journals, temporal or geographical coverage, the more expensive it is likely to be.
- Updates: some databases offer faster updates than others
- Advanced features: these are often unnecessary because they cannot replace the multi-source analysis tools you will need to use in the future, but these costly features are sometimes offered as options.
Beyond access to databases
To be effective, you won’t need just one database, but more likely 2 or 3… and sometimes many more (if you also keep an eye on collaborative projects). On top of that, you’ll need everything you collect on the Internet (press, competitors’ websites, etc.).
Very quickly, you will need to bring all this information together (once filtered or with a view to filtering it) in a single analysis tool. Otherwise, you will be condemned to carrying out as many analyses as you have input sources, only to end up with an impossible synthesis.
Even more so with the growing mass of information, it is essential to have tools to automate the process of gathering and filtering information and then analysing and structuring the results of this monitoring.
Without these tools, even access to the most comprehensive and expensive databases will soon be useless.
With IPMetrix, you benefit from a single access point to all global databases
Database pooling: the power to consolidate your analyses in a single space
One of the great strengths of the IPMetrix tool is that it enables you to pool and group together in a single database all the results from all the global databases you want to include in your monitoring or analyses. This gives you a single access point to a multitude of specialised databases, both free and paying, ranging from patents to scientific publications and collaborative projects, to which you can also add your Internet watch… With TKM, you can then work with this material, share it, distribute it to your internal community and capitalise on it.
Access to free, open data
One of the other obvious advantages is access to databases. With TKM’s IPMetrix, there’s no more need to justify access to an expensive database. You have everything you need in one place, allowing you to focus on data analysis and application rather than data collection.
Access to major scientific publications
IPMetrix, business intelligence solutions for SMEs and start-ups
Artificial Intelligence at the service of your efficiency
As mentioned above, the sheer volume of information entering a monitoring system poses a real threat to the sustainability of monitoring activities. It can quickly become discouraging to be confronted with a mass of information, the vast majority of which will turn out to be useless or irrelevant, with no way of being really more efficient upstream when it comes to selection.
Generic artificial intelligence is unlikely to help you much, because its performance levels will probably not be enough for you. There will still be a lot of verification and filtering work to do.
Only specific AI, i.e. trained for your particular use case, will enable you to achieve levels of performance and efficiency that will save you a lot of time, without increasing the risk of missing out on relevant information.
Advanced filtering and analysis
IPMetrix doesn’t just give you access to data; it also gives you the tools to filter and analyse it. This means you can quickly isolate the most relevant information for your business, making your intelligence process much more efficient.
Collaboration and sharing
TKM’s tool is also designed for collaboration. Teams can share data, analyses and reports in real time, speeding up decision-making and ensuring that everyone is on the same wavelength.
Security and confidentiality are also major concerns, and TKM has taken this into account. Your data is stored securely and is only accessible to authorised people within your organisation.
Would you like to find out more about our tool? Contact us !