Gaining an early advantage can be obtained when practitioners generate a hypothesis.

Alfred Reszka spoke to RECONVERGE:G2 attendees on Thursday about how to use high performance teams to gain an early advantage; it is important to make investments in people.

It costs 2.6 billion dollars to develop a drug because drugs have a 4% chance of making it to market once it gets to test phase. People are already engineered, and with pharmaceuticals, it is about making hypothesis about how to inhibit certain outcomes—a difficulty.

Data and information are necessary, but do not constitute intelligence. Analysis is required and recommendations need to be made.

CI practice is about the “what?” and the “so what?” At Merck, they understand the environment and Merck’s strategy. When clients claim to know what they know, Merck verifies and attempts to interface in a way to provide early warnings.

Merck CI is:

  • Independent
  • Customer-focused
  • Collaborative
  • Has a global focus
  • Ethical
  • Proactive and timely
  • Centralized
  • Supports Merck end-to-end
  • Fully integrated in business decisions

Merck CI has a strict code of conduct.

The GCI organization has three components: Strategic Product and Pipeline Intelligence, Scientific Competitive Intelligence, and Strategic Business Intelligence.

Practicing CI within the pharma industry is advantageous because of the lengthy timelines required to create a drug.

There is much unstructured data at Merck: press releases, news articles, clinical trial registries, and transcripts, for example. Software and other sources are helpful analysis tools.

Structured information is already available through company pipelines and presentations, SEC filings, CI databases, and primary CI collection. They need not do this themselves.


Common factors for effective CI function

  • Understand client needs
  • Have personnel to collect and analyze data
  • Access to online resources
  • Funding for primary CI

The fundamental is that if one can gain understanding of clients and have access to staffing you can succeed.

Consider advantages: Is it about knowing needs of clients or anticipation of their needs? Do you have to have enough people in staffing–or is it about having the right people? Access to competitive information: what is available and ethically accessible? Or about what is not available but necessary?


Why have a subject matter expert on teams?

  • Opportunity to bring expertise to the client
  • The have opportunity to leverage hypothesis
  • The have opportunity to ask questions on behalf of the client

SME CI Model has a CI expert sitting on each team requiring intelligence: R&D, Marketing, M&A, operating committees, and others.
Reszka provided several examples (see slide deck) to illuminate unique CI methodologies at Merck; listed in general terms below:

What GCI does that is different:

  • Leverage scientific hypothesis led to business success; determination of hypothesis helped to identify unknown competition.
  • Maximize value to enable R&D
  • Primary CI—impact on the pipeline (new product development)
  • “Merck does CI on Merck”
  • They have a seat at the table (they know the KITS)
  • Collection is replaced by surveillance to help recognize the questions
  • They have high level of influence
  • They make recommendations and disseminate information
  • They have the right people, train them, and develop them in how to do CI the right way. Understanding what the client is trying to achieve is paramount.