One of the benefits of lockdown is that it has given everybody the unique opportunity to actively reshape their lifestyle. In this break from the usual routines, like many others, I have ‘attempted’ to find more time to exercise, to reflect and to transform my diet.

One thing that has definitely become apparent during lockdown is that lifestyle change and rewiring the way we do things is difficult (as I know, having got 3 days into my 30-day challenge!) How many of us really stuck with Joe Wicks beyond the first few weeks (be honest)?

Early enthusiasm can taper off quickly, hence lasting lifestyle change must be resistant to fluid circumstances. That means removing the instant gratification of that morning coffee and croissant even as we get back to public transport and opting for that bowl of oats instead. It can be tough, but having tried it, you know that bowl of oats will keep you fuller for longer.

Choosing long-lasting action over instant gratification is a challenge to the Pharma industry, too. I see the same pattern in the way companies approach Competitive Strategy. You might get a quick turnaround on a CI report. It probably has some nice flashy graphics. It lands on your desk, you skim through its findings, and you put it from your mind. An hour later, you wonder what your strategy is going to be. Maybe in another month’s time, you wonder why you have a CI partner in the first place. If CI teams are to add value to their commercial partners, this pattern really needs to be addressed.

Simple Questions – Quick Answers?

Human beings are suckers for instant gratification – we’re simply wired that way and there’s a time and a place for it. Sometimes, when you have a simple question, you need a simple answer – and you would be right to expect to get it quickly.

In the pharmaceutical industry, however, in order to answer a simple question, you often have to sift through and analyse a mountain of data. An apparently straightforward matter might require the input of subject matter experts from across a number of disciplines and departments. That’s when a partner that is willing to put in the hours, has an established and cultivated network, and that understands the broader context of your company, really comes into its own. Context is essential in order to translate findings into actionable steps. Traditional CI agencies overlook this, because they are transfixed only by the competition.

“Competitive Intelligence is a systematic process that transforms random bits and pieces of data into strategic knowledge.”

Kirk Tyson, The Complete Guide to Competitive Intelligence

But how do you achieve real strategic knowledge if you operate within a very limited context? Our addiction to getting information fast, rather than seeking out strategic information, is holding back CI departments and agencies from delivering real contextual value to their commercial peers and colleagues.

 The Slow Food of Competitive Strategy

Becoming fit is not easy. It involves a mixture of nutrition, exercise, and a mindset shift to achieve real change. The best athletes and personal trainers have expertise in all three areas. A focus on just one does not achieve lasting results. Traditional CI agencies with this hyper focus on competition fail to understand context. They are too blinkered and are responsible for some of the binge eating, sofa surfing culture we now see within Pharma CI.

I like to think of Eradigm as the slow food of Competitive Strategy. We don’t believe that our work should be about getting information as quickly as possible. Bingeworthy as it may be, that kind of intelligence is ultimately replaceable. Ours is a holistic approach, which delivers long-lasting, continual insights that fuel your company and ultimately your decision-making.

For us, it’s not about churning out report after report. Our defining metric is impact, not speed. We want to help our partners transform their business models, increase the longevity of their products, and be continuously aware of threats and opportunities. In order to really undertake Competitive Strategy, agencies must have robust and meaningful experience of working across different disciplines (that includes market access, regulatory, clinical and commercial) and be familiar with answering important and challenging questions across ALL commercial facets of the organisation. That gives you context. That’s the way Pharma companies keep ahead of their competition, instead of crashing when the sugar rush is over.