The adage “Excel or die” is central to product-driven businesses. Companies that fail to invest in cutting-edge research risk becoming obsolete and losing popularity. The foundation of most businesses is an initial set of innovative ideas on which they develop differentiating products and achieve early success. However, relying solely on past achievements and innovating around them might not be enough to maintain a competitive advantage. Improvement patents, whether addition inventions (trying to add a component that wasn’t previously part of a process or product) or substitution inventions (substituting an existing product or process with a new one that’s more efficient for the same purpose), are useful in strengthening an existing patent portfolio, but it’s still essential to keep an eye on emerging technologies that could disrupt the industry space in which one operates. This is why businesses must have an active technology scouting program in place.
What is Technology Scouting?
The process of identifying, analyzing, and evaluating existing or new technologies is known as technology scouting. It is part of a larger open innovation strategy in which R&D professionals look for and collaborate with others on technological innovations outside of their company. Those in charge of this activity (technology scouts) can be external business development directors, in-licensing directors, or cross-domain consultants.
Let us take a closer look at the technology scouting process:
- Determine the technology areas that you need
- Select specific industries, markets, or sub-domains
- Establish criteria for potential technology (standalone technology or compatibility with existing systems, maturity & market potential
- Search patent databases
- Gather information from company websites, product catalogs, research reports, and industry publications
- Assess technologies with help from subject matter experts
- Analyze market trends, competitive landscapes and technical specifications
- List the most promising and relevant technologies
4. Feasibility Assessment
- Analyze each technology in depth
- Consider costs, implementation time, and resources
- Rank solutions based on criteria
- Consider various situations – collaboration needs and planning for short-term and long-term investments
Advantages of Technology Scouting
1. Recognize potentially disruptive innovations before they are too late.
Run a vigorous technology scouting program to continuously identify critical innovations. This eliminates the possibility of an unpleasant surprise from the competition.
2. Take proactive steps with regard to important patents associated with a technology.
Knowing which patents are crucial in a technology space can assist you in making informed M&A and licensing decisions. For example, you can negotiate a license from the patent pools in industries where patent pooling is common, such as wireless technologies, biotechnology, or video encoding.
3. Rapid patent portfolio development aids in maintaining a competitive advantage.
During your technology scouting, you are probably going to come across companies or other organizations whose patents you could acquire for use in your current products or future areas of diversification. By expanding your existing portfolio, you make it more difficult for competitors to work around your product offerings or enter the business segment in which you want to diversify.
To keep up with technological advancements and maximize their IP portfolios, companies, research institutes, and IP professionals must conduct technology scouting. A well-executed technology scouting process allows you to identify innovation and growth opportunities, guaranteeing your success in the competitive landscape.
XLSCOUT’s AI-powered patent analytics tools leverage explainable AI-based technologies to help businesses discover relevant technical information quickly. With XLSCOUT, it is ever so easier now to compare and analyze technology trends over time. You can now view and compare the latest trends in a specific technology using graphical dashboards and insightful landscape reports. Moreover, you can also identify the changes in competitor strategies.
XLSCOUT’s Techscaper, with just a few clicks creates a patent landscape report tailored to your needs. Subsequently, it assists you in resolving data discrepancy woes by offering clean and accurate data. Moreover, our data engineering team works diligently to clean and enhance various data points.