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Industrial Equipment Manufacturer

Industrial Equipment Manufacturer Maintains Innovative Edge with Competitive Intelligence and Patent Tracking

A multinational industrial tool and equipment manufacturing company is staying ahead of competitors by establishing dozens of robust knowledge bases of university research and 90+ knowledge bases of technical knowledge from the Deep Web as well as providing training to hundreds of employees worldwide.

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Challenge

  • Maintain company’s competitive advantage by monitoring product and service developments of other vendors in their market
  • Protect and extend innovation edge by tracking patents and patent applications around the world
  • Teach employees how they can conduct more efficient and effective online research

Solution

IHS Product Design Solution™ with IHS Goldfire®Connect

Results

  • Established a robust knowledge base of technical product and service information gleaned from competitors
  • Developed dozens of robust knowledge bases of university research and 90+ knowledge bases of technical knowledge from the Deep Web
  • Opened window on competitors’ new products through fast, easy access to patent information – immediately discovered a potential patent encroachment
  • Provided training classes to 200 employees at 8 locations in Europe, Asia and America as part of roll-out for 1000 seats of new system available in 5 local languages
  • Set stage for potential expansion of system into other divisions that might benefit from typical 33% time savings in research

Equipment Manufacturer Leverages Competitive Intelligence

The vice president of a multinational industrial tool and equipment manufacturing company wanted to stop competitors from encroaching on its product innovations. For decades, his company had provided leading-edge systems and services to industrial, construction and mining companies around the world. It had established itself as a perennial market leader by enabling its customers to achieve unparalleled productivity and efficiency – but the VP knew that competitors were always trying to close the innovation gap.

In 2012, the VP decided it was time to take a new approach to tracking the competition’s latest activities and emerging technical innovations in the field. With those goals in mind, one of his team’s primary objectives would be to find a faster, easier way to monitor publications, conference proceedings, and worldwide patents and patent applications related to rock drilling tools and equipment.

After trying another system for several months and ultimately rejecting it, the evaluators watched a brief demonstration of IHS Goldfire Connect, part of the IHS Product Design Solution. The IHS system enables better decisions by giving personnel across the product lifecycle a single point-of-access to a wealth of knowledge inside and outside of an organization – including patent information. The VP immediately purchased 1,000 IHS Goldfire Connect licenses for use throughout the company’s global operations.

Building a Competitive Knowledge Base

The manufacturer’s team of engineers and materials scientists invested the next several months in developing nearly two dozen knowledge bases of technical product and service information from competitor websites and several dozen knowledge bases of university sites. With IHS, the staff also learned more efficient and effective online search methods.

Critical to understanding the competitive landscape is the ability to glean insights from information scatter across the Web and ‘Deep Web’. Experts estimate that 96 percent of information content posted on the Internet is not accessible with keyword search engines.1 This vast majority of content exists on the Deep Web – a.k.a. the Undernet, Deep Net or Invisible Net. Traditional search engines cannot "see" or retrieve Deep Web content because many of those pages do not exist until they are created dynamically.

With IHS Goldfire Connect, the company’s researchers could now mine and leverage that information using the system’s sophisticated semantic search capabilities. They collected and analyzed all kinds of competitive business intelligence – building queries to harvest everything from news releases and investor announcements to analyst reports and technical documentation – to gain insights into what products other manufacturers are developing, which markets they are targeting, what materials they require, which vendors are part of their supply chain and more. With the IHS system, researchers could access information that was impossible to find otherwise. In China, for example, company users could now successfully reach resources on the Internet that were restricted from manual searches.

Researchers, designers and engineers from the team are already using its powerful new IHS research tool to drill into Deep Web content and find the information that they need to enhance their company’s innovative and competitive edge.

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Spurring Creativity and Mitigating Risk

One of the team’s primary objectives was to use patent information as a window on innovations in their field. Researchers quickly began leveraging IHS Goldfire Connect – with its ability to access to patent information from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan and other members of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – to track patent applications around the world and stay ahead of the competition.

Product designers and engineers could now use IHS patent searches to see what new ideas were emerging in not only industrial tools and equipment but also in other disciplines. The system offered them a fast, structured methodology for making surprising new connections – drawing inspiration from unrelated fields that have solved a given problem in another context.

One engineer, who used the IHS system to search for one of his own patents, was surprised to see that a competitor had recently submitted an application for a new patent that would have circumvented his company’s exclusive rights to a key product innovation. They weren’t aware a competitor was working in the same area. Quickly uncovering this potential encroachment gave the equipment manufacturer an opportunity to intercede, avoid a costly issue and protect its competitive advantage.

Learning to Optimize a Powerful Tool

From the outset, the team’s leaders recognized that simply purchasing the software would not necessarily enable them to rapidly meet their goals so they also invested in training from IHS experts.

The company’s project planners worked closely with the IHS Goldfire Professional Services organization to develop a training strategy that focused on teaching “super users” to become internal champions. Eventually, those “super users” would support and train additional staff in the most effective use of the powerful new research tool. To expedite training of the first 200 users, however, the company asked IHS experts to conduct classes at 8 sites across America, Europe and Asia.

Another critical factor in ensuring the success of the training and implementation across the company’s global operations was IHS Goldfire Connect’s availability in five local languages (English, German, French, Chinese and Japanese) which allowed for greater collaboration across the team. The VP knew that his team would be able to leverage the new tool faster and more easily – learning how to ask the right questions in order to obtain the right answers at the right time – if they were working in their own languages.

Setting the Strategy to Meet New Goals

Researchers, designers and engineers from the team are already using its powerful new IHS research tool to drill into Deep Web content and find the information that they need to enhance their company’s innovative and competitive edge.

In 2013, their global deployment of the IHS software and training is still in its early stages yet the project’s success to date is attracting attention in other parts of the company. Other divisions, such as the company’s compressor equipment group, appear interested in looking at how this IHS solution (and others) might help their lines of business, too. They may have heard that other organizations have used the IHS solution to dramatically accelerate their basic research workflows – often reducing the time required for typical searches by approximately 33 percent.

The VP’s initial implementation strategy for the IHS solution was unusual insofar as it focused primarily on gaining faster, smarter access to external information sources. Other companies, by contrast, often start by trying to simplify and accelerate the process of searching their own vast quantities of unstructured data from myriad sources. Plans for the first step in that process, working with IHS experts to index internal information content resources, are now on the table at this company too.

1 http://inventionmachine.com/the-Invention-Machine-Blog/bid/90626/

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