Founded in 2001, a start-up from the University of California had captured the attention of Wall Street, the healthcare industry and users of its portable oxygen delivery products. By 2017, it had grown into a $300 million a year business and registered a 44.8% CAGR between 2009 and 2018. It became a significant disruptive factor in the industry by selling direct to consumers, thereby circumventing traditional providers. Its major competitor, a unit of a €17 billion European-based conglomerate, was well-entrenched in the traditional channel; however, in October 2017, a new Competitive Intelligence (CI) program in its U.S. office hit the panic button. It reported that for the first time in its history, the start-up reported higher quarterly earnings than its more-established rival. In six-weeks’ time, the CI team, with support of the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, rallied leadership. Pulling together a massive amount of CI data, it organized a wargame involving 20 top leaders. From the two-day wargame, the team developed a plan to initiate a Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) channel for its portable oxygen product. In August 2018, the plan became a reality with the launch of the D2C effort. This case illustrates that collecting and reporting of CI information is often not, in and of itself, sufficient in driving meaningful change. Impactful action from CI information often requires two things; a recognizable and attention-getting vehicle, which in this case was the wargame, and active support and engagement from company leadership.
Dr. Rick Stachel has a 15-year long history as a marketing and competitive intelligence professional. In his career, Dr. Stachel has developed marketing and competitive intelligence programs and teams in world-leading firms in the MedTech and research-science industries. In 2018, Dr. Stachel joined the faculty at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, United States as an Assistant Professor in Healthcare Administration. He teaches healthcare research methods, information systems and healthcare marketing in the university’s Master’s of Healthcare Administration program. Dr. Stachel holds a doctorate in information systems from Robert Morris University and an MBA from Point Park University, both located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
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