Useful notions in Technology Monitoring

Technology Monitoring and Competitive Intelligence help prioritize relevant data and strategic information for an organization's competitive development. To achieve this, it is important to know some concepts and notions to guide the practice; terms and definitions that help understand and benefit efficiently from the benefits of effective management of scientific and technological information.

There is no single type of monitoring, numerous authors have contributed to debate definitions of monitoring, proposals for management models, tools and experiences; building a broad theoretical framework of the discipline, that we tried to synthesizing here.

Strategic watch, as an innovation management tool, is the integral, ethical and legal process of "generating and processing ideas applicable to the development of new products, services or processes, or in the improvement of existing ones." It involves all areas of the organization's value chain and monitoring cycle stages, from "monitoring the environment (searching, collecting and analyzing the information we consider relevant to our organization) to the exploitation of information (distribute and use The information in a way that allows us to make decisions).


This comprehensive vision identifies four modes of strategic surveillance: technological (available and emerging technologies), competitive (competitors), commercial (products, markets and suppliers) and the environment (socioeconomics, policy, environmental, legislation, etc.).


Source: "Strategic Watch Guide. Project Sentinel ". Foundation PRODINTEC, 2010 ".

Strategic science and technology information management is increasingly important to innovate and survive in a complex and changing environment like the present. Thus, the technological surveillance is an essential tool to detect opportunities for technological innovation and new ideas that would facilitate an improvement of processes, products and services in the organization.

In 2006 is published the standard 1666006:2006 EX, which defines the process of technology watch as a way to "organized, selective and permanent capture information from abroad about technology, analyze and turn it into knowledge for decision-making with less risk, and to anticipate the changes". A milestone that makes this a guide to systematize practices, creating technological surveillance units in organizations and allow their certification.

The patents are one of the main sources of information on the practice of Surveillance technology. 70% of the literature on technology is done only through patents. They provide to the Organization relevant, detailed information and anticipatory on the emergence of new products or technologies on the market. In addition, are documents standardized internationally.

More information: Technology watch

Active watch or monitoring is a type of watch that consists of establishing a procedure to search for regular information about a previously defined information need. In many cases it corresponds to the investigation of specific information on a certain subject.

Passive surveillance or scanning is a type of surveillance that consists of discovering information of interest to the company in different sources of information. Usually, the information comes permanently through third parties.

There are passive surveillance services targeted at specific sectors. An example is the Passive Surveillance Service of the Chilean Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG). This program is made up of the reception and attention of complaints of possible diseases and communicable diseases that affect the animals, which is complemented with information obtained from slaughter plants and private laboratories. It has national scope and is one of the components of the Epidemiological Surveillance System that provides more information, as it provides data that support the country's health status.

Competitive intelligence is the "process of obtaining, analyzing, interpreting and disseminating strategically valuable information about industry and consumers that is transmitted to decision-makers in a timely manner" (Gibbons and Prescott, 1996).

Technology surveillance is related to competitive intelligence but they are two different concepts. Surveillance has the role of detection and focuses on monitoring the evolution of technology and its implications, while intelligence connects the knowledge of the organization with action, taking as a mission the strategic positioning of the organization from efficient exploitation of the information.

Source: "Models of technological surveillance and competitive intelligence". BAI, Innovation Agency ".

La previsión a medio y largo plazo de la evolución de las tecnologías, consiste en la descripción de las expectativas lógicas de desarrollo basadas en los estudios de expertos tecnológicos(...) y se apoya enestudios técnicos de proyección del presente hacia el futuro en un plano estrictamente científico-tecnológico”. Contempla dos tipos de métodos de previsión tecnológica: métodos proyectivos y métodos prospectivos. :

El capítulo IV de la la Norma UNE 1666006:2006 EX corresponde a la Previsión Tecnológica. El Blog YoEmprendo nos ilustra con un ejemplo práctico de proceso de previsión tecnológica dentro de la norma UNE.

Fuente “Introducción a la prospectiva: metodologías, fases y explotación de resultados”. Rodríguez, J., 2001".

In order for technology monitoring to be effective, information management must be selective and accurate. The critical factors help to identify the information needs within an organization and formulate priorities. The specialized literature proposes several definitions for these critical factors, for instance, Rovira (2008) defines them as "external factors to the organization that critically affect competitiveness". Each activity within the value chain determines a factor or topic and in order to precise, usually they are accompanied by descriptors, keywords, priority, time horizon, etc.

For the Anglo-Saxon perspective, Herring (1990) refers to the Key Intelligence Topics (KIT). The KIT allow deepening in the identification and information needs definitions from the analysis of organisation's interests, such as: trends, new products and services, competitors, suppliers, regulatory issues, etc.

The KIT can be defined as:

  • KIT for strategic decisions: referring to organisation strategic issues, especially regarding strategic planning and implementation. Examples: new product development, R&D policy, business plans, investment decisions, internationalization, etc.
  • KIT for early warnings: to be able to identify potential threats and future opportunities for the organisation. Examples: trends, new technologies, legislative changes, patents, market niches, etc
  • KIT for key players: related to key market actors monitoring. Examples: competitors, customers, suppliers, partners, regulators, experts, public decision-makers, etc.

Information Management refers to "those processes that are carried out to capture, classify, preserve, recover, share and disseminate the information generated, received and / or acquired by an organization" (Sánchez, 2006). It consists of a series of activity groups, which are:

Source: "Information management for agricultural technological innovation". Palmieri, V. & Rivas, L. 2007 ".

According to the OECD, foresight consists of "systematic attempts to observe the long-term future of science, technology, economics and society in order to identify emerging technologies likely to produce the greatest economic and social benefits."

Technology foresight is based on the opinions of experts and includes a set of methods and tools that facilitate and systematize collective reflection on the future and the construction of possible scenarios to design strategic actions. It does not try to predict the future, but to help building it. Among the most used methodologies are: the Delphi Method, Scanning, panels of experts, citizen panels, wild cards, DOFA, etc.

Source: "Manual of technological foresight Concepts and practice". Geroghiou, L., Cassingena, Keenen, M., Miles, I .. & Popper, R. 2010.