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November 2006 Stevie® Awards Homepage Back Issues Email the Editors
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IN THIS ISSUE
   
If in Doubt, Check It Out : Profile of Naveen Jain
Keeping Ahead of the Competition
Management Blogs & Sites of Note
A Shock in Time: Profile of Defibtech LLC
Calendar of Events for Executives
IF IN DOUBT, CHECK IT OUT : PROFILE OF NAVEEN JAIN
   

Melissa DyrdahlIntelius, Inc., the online information company, won a Stevie Award for Best New Company in The 2006 American Business Awards. Following is a profile of the company and its charismatic co-founder Naveen Jain.

Intelius, Inc. was founded on a vision of information commerce—an environment where anyone anywhere can locate and purchase critical public information online. Intelius recognizes the need for businesses and consumers to access this information for protection, to assist in making informed decisions, and to reconnect. Intelius helps employers to verify a job candidate's background and homeowners to check the credibility of a contractor to avoid fraud.  It allows parents to screen adults in their children's lives to ensure they do not present a danger, and it enables veterans to reconnect with long-lost military buddies. 

Intelius has developed technology to monitor and search billions of public records in real time, providing accurate, affordable, and timely results. With a large database of records and exclusive partnerships with companies such as Yahoo! and AOL, Intelius has established a thriving market online and receives approximately one million visitors to its site daily. 

The company appears to have cornered the information commerce and ID theft prevention markets. The company's customer base has grown 762 percent since 2003, an indicator of the success and widespread adoption of its products and services. With ownership of more than 50 percent of the online people search market, and a ranking among the top 100 commerce sites on the Internet, Intelius is the leader in a burgeoning industry.

Naveen Jain is CEO at Intelius, Inc., which he co-founded in 2003 Jain brings to Intelius a critical vision of integrating intelligent, predictive information for making important everyday decisions.  His perspective on the future of the Internet is that  it will revolutionize the way businesses and consumers make decisions and mitigate risk.

Jain believes Intelius can continue to leverage the Internet as a medium through which to provide businesses and consumers with the information they need for greater peace of mind in making everyday decisions.

Jain's push for innovation has driven Intelius to consistently emerge with products offering information to consumers for personal safety. In addition to enabling background, criminal, and people searches, Intelius has launched a comprehensive identity theft detection and prevention product, IDWatch, to safeguard consumers from America's fastest growing crime. IDWatch is also designed as a quick, effective response system for organizations coping with a data breach – an event that has become increasingly publicized and scrutinized under new disclosure regulations. Most recently, IDWatch was employed in response to a breach at the Port of Seattle.

A cornerstone of Intelius' business is creating services that provide easy access to critical information. Intelius is the only company offering such a range of tools for business and consumer protection through the use of publicly available information. These breakthrough services, combined with the company's unmatched access to accurate and current data, ensure its long-term value to customers. 

In addition to offering innovative products and services, Intelius recognizes the importance of customer service support. Consumers can contact Intelius' assisted-search specialists for help in interpreting or locating information. 

At its root, Intelius is committed to improving lives, building trust, and enabling intelligent decision-making through information. Intelius aims to continue as leader in info-commerce by providing the most accurate information at a reasonable cost.

Prior to founding Intelius, Jain launched InfoSpace (March 1996), taking the company public on NASDAQ and driving twenty-four acquisitions. Before InfoSpace, he served as a senior executive at Microsoft Corporation (June 1989 to March 1996). Jain also holds patents for several innovative technologies related to operating systems and applications. Jain is actively engaged in philanthropic activities. He is involved in and contributes to an assortment of organizations relating to children, education, and solving hunger, including United Way, Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington, and CRY India.

KEEPING AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION
   

Leading From The FrontHow Competitive Intelligence Helps Businesses to Read Between the Lines
by Edwin Bailey, managing director of  Piribo.com and ReportBuyer.com, online business intelligence for industry

One of the reasons why the executives of U.S. energy group Enron were regarded as “The Smartest Guys in the Room” was because they were able to manipulate their accounting to keep the share price inflated.  They created a raft of special purpose vehicles (SPVs) and, by carefully staying within statutory ownership percentage levels, did not have to declare them in their consolidated accounts.  Only when they slipped up on one of them did the whole network start to unravel.

In his new book, Competitive Intelligence, Christopher Murphy points out how such “off balance sheet” finance was an element in many corporate debacles, and he provides a guide to unpicking an annual report.  It shows how to read between the lines of the facts and figures in the balance sheet, the profit and loss account, and—perhaps most important of all—the cash flow statement.

This book explains the technical mechanisms that some companies offer in their accounts and which professional analysts use and provides advice on how to assess what the figures tell about where a business and might be going.

Corporate crime writer Michael Ridpath explains in the book’s introduction that:  “In business you cannot operate effectively unless you know what everyone else is doing.”   Competitive Intelligence demonstrates that it isn’t just a matter of facts and figures, but the strategy and motivations of your competitors, as well as your customers, that matter. You have to look at all the factors that make a market what it is today, and the factors that will indicate how it is likely to develop in the future.

Sleeper or warrior?

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most competitive industries there is with the Holy Grail being either to find the next successful compound or licence in a winner. As a result, the entire industry is scouring universities, journals, and partnering conferences for information that will lead to a lucky find.

What structures does the industry put in place to acquire the information needed to stay one step ahead of its rivals? With so much information being collected, much of it will never be used effectively, so Murphy recommends a corporate system for collating, analysing and channelling intelligence.  Even more crucial, a board member needs to champion the process and convert the intelligence into strategic decisions.

Murphy cites a survey carried out in the UK in 2002 that painted an interesting picture of how competitive intelligence (CI) is viewed and used. It found that most pharma companies thought CI was simply about investigating competitors. Only five took the wider perspective of using it to understand their market environment, and only three adopted an integrated approach. 

Another survey of U.S. and French pharma companies categorised the different company approaches as

  • Sleeper
  • Reactive
  • Active
  • Assault and Warrior

Hoffman LaRoche and L’Oreal were put in the Assault and Warrior category because they had dedicated war rooms, actively checked patents, and used a dragnet to trawl the world for copycat products. 

What are we looking for?

But does competitor activity end there? Murphy proposes companies adopt Competitive Intelligence as a distinct business function, ideally with a head of department at board level. To organise the CI function the following Key Intelligence Topics, or KITS, are useful.  These fall into three broad groups:

Strategic Decisions – These should be based on a knowledge of the competitive environment.  To embark on an acquisition is obviously a key decision and the book covers this in detail.

Early Warning Topics – These issues are not normally included in management’s assessment of their competitive situation. An example would be a threat to the supply chain of essential materials resulting from either a political situation or the acquisition of suppliers by a rival.

Descriptions of Key Players – The traditional use of Competitive Intelligence.

Counterintelligence – The tables can always be turned! An entire chapter of the book is devoted to creating your own protective shield.  On the principle of “get a thief to catch a thief,” a trained CI specialist is the ideal person to provide good advice here.

Before adopting CI as a business function, executives should educate themselves in the discipline.  Murphy emphasises that “many senior executives regard CI as a comfort blanket rather than a guide to better decision making.  These will tend to ask for a great deal of information, which gives them reassurance that they are alert and well briefed, but has little influence on their actions.”  There have to be objectives, a plan and a framework—and a useable outcome in the form of a report containing succinctly analysed information that can be used to influence actions. 

Knowing When to Stop

One of Murphy’s caveats in Computer Intelligence is that companies must know when to stop the search. Medical research offers some useful lessons that can also be used in CI:

  • Theories are crucially important in providing platforms to support the superstructure of research.  Even erroneous hypotheses serve as tools for discovering the truth;
  • Research efforts are concentrated on the most promising lines of enquiry and not dissipated in ‘let’s see what happens’ initiatives;
  • Projects not making headway are ruthlessly dropped.  Emotional attachment to a pet project can result in analysis paralysis.

 Knowing where to look

Murphy warns that it is important not to rush at data collection but to work out the best sources in advance. He quotes fellow author Liam Fahey as saying that “80 percent of the data needed for effective study of competitors who have been active in the market for two to three years is available in-house.”

So where to start?  Try trade associations, official statistics, individual company websites, market research, brokers’ research, monographs (reports, books), journals, or regulatory authorities. The British library [www.bl.uk] is an excellent source for published information on British companies. It also compiles a dossier of what is termed grey literature, or non-documented reports on individual companies (visit www.bl.uk/services/document/greylit.html).

Intelligence gathering on companies in other parts of the EU is a lot harder.  In Germany, for instance, there is a legal requirement for public companies to file their accounts, but the bulk of companies fall into the Mittelsland of family-owned, private concerns. They are able to side step the requirement by paying a modest fine.  The net result of this is that only 5% of these companies file accounts.

In Europe there is the added problem of multiple registries. There’s nothing neat like the UK’s Companies House, where all companies can report.  For smaller companies there are local registries, some 500 in Germany and 100 in France. Also there are still different national accounting traditions within the EU. Local researchers are indispensable in this sort of corporate minefield.

In the United States the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) regulates public companies and those with assets over $10 million or over 500 employees.  The SEC provides a wealth of information including EDGAR, a database of company documentation.  (Pricewaterhouse Coopers [www.pwc.com] has a useful tool for CI researchers called Edgarscan.)  Private companies are more difficult to pin down so a little lateral thinking may be required. All applications for new build, or licences for manufacturing plant, are registered, and there is a useful publication called the Sourcebook of State Public Records that provides information on where to find all these documents.  For the pharma industry, the University of Washington’s Researchers’ ! Guide gives more data on private companies than you would be able to pick up from Dun & Bradstreet.

Simple observation

Companies do, of course, disseminate information on themselves quite willingly as they know that publicity is vital to attract business partners or customers. Web sites and press releases therefore reveal quite a lot.

Trade shows, including partnering and venture capital conferences, bring many business targets together. However Murphy makes the point that going to trade shows should be a structured activity aimed at filling in the gaps in existing knowledge. Wandering about on the off chance of spotting something interesting is not productive, although listening to other people’s unguarded conversations in the hospitality suite is apparently acceptable CI practice.

Putting CI to practical use

The CI practitioner has to turn all the gathered information into a report that a senior executive can use in decision-making, and Murphy’s book illustrates the various tools of analysis that can be applied in order to draw useful conclusions.

Murphy also warns that if one company can get its act together on the competitive intelligence front, so can its rivals.  The book concludes with a guide to counterespionage, which shows how a company can build its own protective shield to ensure that information isn’t leaking out. 

While Murphy doesn’t believe it benefits a company to be secretive, especially in these days of transparency, he recommends a company should take sensible steps to safeguard its intellectual property.  And who better to advise on that than those bright boys and girls from Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive Intelligence: Gathering, Analysing and Putting it to Work
by Christopher Murphy
is available from online pharma business bookshop, Piribo Ltd [www.piribo.com]

Competitors: Outwitting, Outmaneuvering and Outperforming
by Liam Fahey. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd
 
The Society for Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP)
[http://www.scip.org]

Edwin Bailey is managing director of Pirbo Ltd (owners of Piribo.com and ReportBuyer.com)
For more information telephone + 44 207 060 7474

This is an extract from an article which first appeared May 2006 in PharmaFocus.

MANAGEMENT BLOGS & SITES OF NOTE
   

Blogs, or web logs, are all the rage these days. Each month in this space we'll point you to several blogs that we think might be of interest to you.

Searchblog : Thoughts on the intersection of search, media, technology, and more …
New Media Musings: Author and blogger J.D. Lasica is one of the world's leading authorities on citizens media and the personal media revolution.
Rattle the Cage : Releasing the leader within you … a blog to assist you on your journey by bringing together thought leaders and practice leaders from around the globe.
Brad Sugars : Blog by the founder of Action International with his comments on the world of business.

A SHOCK IN TIME: PROFILE OF DEFIBTECH LLC
   

Cessna MustangDefibtech, LLC, based in Guilford, CT, was the Stevie Award winner for Best Overall Company - Up to 100 Employees in The 2006 American Business Awards.

Defibtech was founded in 1999 with the goal of making Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) affordable and easy to use. AEDs provide life-saving defibrillation during sudden cardiac arrest, one of the leading causes of death in North America.

The co-founders of Defibtech are cardiac surgeon Dr. Glenn Laub and engineer/businessman Gintaras Vaisnys. Glenn and Gintaras became friends in college at Yale. Glenn graduated with a medical degree and eventually became the Director of the Heart Hospital at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, NJ. Gintaras gained an engineering degree and went on to found a number of technology companies. Over 25 years later the two college friends came back together to combine their expertise. Glenn and Gintaras brought together the best of both of their worlds to found the fastest growing defibrillator company in the market.    

Defibtech CEO, cardiac surgeon Dr. Glenn Laub, in an interview with US 1 Magazine, explained the importance of widespread AED deployment, “As a heart surgeon I’ve probably operated on more than 300 patients a year for the last 18 years. But by deploying more defibrillators and making them cheaper and easier to use, we can save more than 50,000 lives a year across the country, more than every person who dies in a traffic accident every year. I can save more lives by deploying defibrillators than I can in the operating room.”

By 2005, Defibtech had become the fastest growing AED company on the market.  Defibtech accomplished this in its third year of sales, competing in an arena dominated by large medical device companies like Phillips and Medtronic.  Defibtech was able to become a respected player in this highly competitive market by offering a high-quality AED that sold for half of the cost of other AEDs.

The fully featured, affordable Lifeline AED was developed by a team of engineers that included designers with experience in medical equipment design, and also a background in high-tech high-volume consumer products. This wide variety of skills and experience allowed Defibtech to leverage techniques that are not typically known to design groups in conventional medical device companies. 

By introducing the Lifeline AED onto the market, Defibtech drove the price of AEDs down. The affordable price made widespread deployment of AEDs a reality—a reality that saves more lives.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR EXECUTIVES
   
Events of Interest to Senior Managers
November 30: Stevie Awards for Women in Business final entry deadline
December 4: Selling Power Sales Excellence Awards, Las Vegas, Nevada
December 4-8 : ITU Telecom World 2006 , Hong Kong
January 8-11 : International Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas, Nevada
February 27-28 : Digital Music Forum East, New York, New York