Partnering for Better Insight

May 1, 2006

2 Min Read
Partnering for Better Insight

Originally Published MX May/June 2006

BUSINESS PLANNING & TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

Technology forecasting should be an ongoing responsibility of company leaders in medtech firms of all sizes. There is no replacement for having detailed knowledge of innovative technologies currently under development and a strong sense of how they might be useful to the company.

But assigning resources to such a task can also be a tricky proposition for companies whose essential day-to-day responsibilities center on managing the development and production of projects already in hand. Partnering with another medtech company or an external research and development firm that can help a company direct its technology forecasting efforts sometimes makes a lot of sense.

External research and development firms can offer some advantages to the process of technology forecasting that a medtech company might have trouble accomplishing with internal resources. Some R&D firms possess wide-ranging experience with technologies being developed in other industries, enabling them to uncover technology-based business opportunities that might not be apparent to a firm focused solely on medical product applications. Firms with more-focused experience in the field of medical technologies can usually also offer access to an extended network of resources and contacts—including contacts among healthcare professionals, technical field professionals, academic experts, and skilled engineers—thus broadening the reach of the company's forecasting explorations. Other advantages of bringing in an external firm include the following.

Expanded Expertise. Outsourcing firms can be used to fill in the gaps in a medtech firm's core competencies, enabling it to explore technological areas beyond current capabilities.

Anonymity. Making sure that competitors don't get wind of a company's forecasting activities can sometimes be important to the success of a forecasting project. External firms can often gather information anonymously that a medtech company might have trouble finding on its own.

Objectivity. External firms typically have no financial interest in a particular technology or device, and so are able to provide an objective assessment of the commercial potential of various technologies.

Flexible Staffing. When a bolstered workforce is required for a forecasting project—or for turning forecasting into near-term reality without permanent staff increases—external firms can be a ready source of experienced and disposable staffing.

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