SEPT. 3, 2008
Using Technology Intelligence for R&D
Instead of spending weeks and months on R&D, companies are now able to cut this time to
seconds and minutes.
B Y J O E B U Z Z A N G A , P R O D U C T M A N A G E R , E LS E V I E R
n today’s networked economy, the most effective What is “Technology Intelligence” — and what
R&D goes beyond a company’s four walls and does it mean for the bottom line?
explores what’s going on in the outside world
The concept of Technology Intelligence plays an
— in terms of technologies, products, strategies, in-
important role here, referring to:
novations, thought leaders — and how this infor-
mation can be harnessed and applied to internal in- “…the activity that enables companies to iden-
novation. But this is not an easy task. Consider this: tify the technological opportunities and threats
in 2007 the global top 1,250 R&D companies spent that could affect the future growth and survival of
over $479 billion on R&D. their business. It aims to capture and disseminate
the technological information needed for strategic
This has resulted in an accelerated movement
planning and decision-making. As technology life
around the information retrieval process and a
cycles shorten and business becomes more global-
hunt for technology that accomplishes for business
ized, having effective Technology Intelligence capa-
researchers what Google has done for consumers.
bilities is becoming increasingly important.”
This is because corporate R&D ends up wasting
valuable man hours, brain power, and resources on We’re moving from the “Information Age” to the
information retrieval. Some additional statistics: “Intelligence Age.” The former was all about build-
ing the database — i.e. the Web and its vast amount
• According to recent Forrester Research, the vol-
of content — but today we’ve progressed to creating
ume of the world’s data doubles approximately
contextual access to the right pieces of information
every three years;
to derive intelligence, meaning and insight.
• Per week, corporate R&D professionals (scien-
Traditional methods for extracting such “intelli-
tists and engineers) spend 5.5 hours gathering,
gence” range from manually sifting through pub-
looking for or pulling together information, and
lications and journals, networking or attending
an additional 4.7 hours analyzing and applying
tradeshows and focus groups, hiring outsourced
consultants, or just standard surﬁng the Internet.
Simply stated, 1) there is a lot of information out Yet both in their individual silos, as well as when
there, 2) companies recognize the value of this in- mapped out across each other, these methods still
formation and therefore are willing to spend money prove to have a number of drawbacks: difﬁcult to
to retrieve and analyze it, but 3) seem to spend too identify relevant information, take weeks or months
much time doing so. Bottom line, people aren’t lack- to complete, resource intensive, expensive, and in
ing information, but rather need insights gleaned the end return unpredictable results.
from this information.
Going a layer deeper, the actual information that
Building upon the principles of Open Innovation, such approaches present often falls short of its po-
there are new techniques and technologies that tential. For example, any search engine to date, paid
bring structure, relevance and meaning to unlock or free, provides results in the form of records with
content on the Internet for actionable business pur- citations (i.e.: title and abstract), similar to a Google
poses. This goes beyond simple Google keyword search. But an important transition is happening in
searches, and leverages approaches that intuitively the technology intelligence ﬁeld, shifting from cita-
search based on real-world problems and solutions. tions to meaning: actually understanding citations
In doing so, instead of spending weeks and months that are in the search results, and then extracting
on R&D, companies are now able to cut this time to meaning and insights from this query data.
seconds and minutes.