Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Is your Asset Management solution provider as innovative as your IP?

Ollie Gray
Guest Contributor
We’ve come a long way since the 1950s industrial economy, where the use of innovation in manufactured goods was at 20%. Intangible assets were a distant blip on the business horizon, with physical goods being the controlling factor. When you consider a figure of 70% by the 1990s, and a steady rise since then, this paints a very different picture of the world economy. 

We’re now in an era where knowledge is power and human creativity and innovation reigns supreme. Within this lies the challenge.  How, in an increasingly competitive climate, do organisations leverage innovation (or more specifically Intellectual Property) to stay ahead? One can argue that a big part of this comes down to the way in which innovation is managed.

Technology has revolutionized the way in which IP departments work. There’s no better example of this than with Intellectual Asset Management (IAM)solutions. Such tools have gradually become the means in which key information is made accessible to the right people when they need it the most. As a result IP professionals are making better, more informed and strategic decisions about how to manage innovation.

But with this revolution has come new challenges. Will IAM solutions be able to keep up with the ever shifting business demands of the IP industry?

A determining factor lies in how the technology upon which a management solution is developed, helps or hinders the ability to share information efficiently and without barriers being imposed by inflexible IT solutions. Collaboration and the demand to pull in and involve all parties, be it internal or external, in the development of an organisations’ products or services is key.

(Technology is just one contributing factor to how a management solution can accommodate the growing needs of an IP department. System architecture / design etc are other crucial areas that should be considered. For this edition however, I will concentrate on technology alone.) 

Collaboration is one of the supporting pillars of intellectual asset management solutions and one that has become a buzz word in itself. The acceptance of SaaS (Software as a Service) models has meant that accessing and sharing information is easier than ever. But is the true potential of collaboration being stifled by technological limitations in the solutions themselves?

For collaboration to fundamentally take place, there needs to be technical flexibility. Firstly, the management system of choice will, at the very least, need to be compatible with the organisations’ (or IP departments) web browsers. Maybe not a problem if all management of IP is performed statically, in one location / office, with no requirements for outside collaboration. Unfortunately for most IP led organisations, this is not the case. Many IP functions span the globe, involve the input of many parties and require their data to be accessed in different formats (potentially whilst on the move). This broad approach to IP management is underpinned by an initiative to enhance the role of the intellectual asset as a highly visible and valued contributor to the business. This means, opening the system up to not just the IP legal team but research and development, product and brand management, business unit managers, or even as high up as board level. Difficult, if each stake holder or outside council is using varying web browsers. For the clients of a handful of providers, this potential short fall is avoided all together. Anaqua for example, utilizes all standardized web browsers be it Microsoft Internet Explorer; Safari; Google Chrome; or Mozilla allowing for a risk free implementation of their system. Windows, apple and mobile platforms are also supported.

When undertaking projects to source new managements systems, organisations should demand that their potential suitor accommodates these technological specifications as a minimum requirement. If not, be prepared to face potentially damaging effects to efficiency.     

Fewer still, are providers that go beyond this level of compatibility and bridge the gap between present ideas of what constitutes optimum IP management and what can be perceived as its future. Being able to access data outside of the office, on the move and at any time, is a facet of IP asset management that has gone from being a ‘nice to have’ to a value addition, that can have serious benefits for a department lucky enough to have it at their disposal. Multiple device compatibility such as smart phone and tablet formatting, is therefore redesigning the whole concept of collaboration all together. With advancements such as this, IP professionals of all backgrounds will be able to enjoy far more flexibility than ever before. Imagine this…

IP Manager: IP managers can now gain insight into their IP landscape when they want, with access to reporting tools and portfolio analysis queries on the move. With 24/7 exposure to their data, IP managers are able to be more dynamic than ever.

Paralegals / Attorneys: The risk of missing Office actions, filing and internal deadlines are potentially completely mitigated as all personnel have visibility of upcoming tasks at all times no matter where they are.   

IP reviewer / technical specialists: With access to newly submitted invention disclosures on their phone or tablet, they can now provide a quality review anywhere, anytime, be it on business or at home. Being able to react quickly and delegate to patent committees, the process from submission to filing decision is dramatically reduced.

IP committee members: Filing decisions are made quicker, as travelling committee members can review and react on the road, rather than having to wait to be back in the office. 

Engineers: Engineers can now take retrospective glances at previously disclosed inventions, ensuring they channel innovation in the right areas. Having this visibility on a 24/7 basis, creates a more dynamic and responsive research and development function.

Of course, the effect of technical advances on collaboration can be seen to exist in varying facets of IP management, not just Invention disclosures. Further to this, technical advances extend beyond just collaborative aspects of IP asset management. Formalities and workflow based tasks are being made more efficient and less time consuming by technological advances such as Outlook integration, where email can be pulled directly into an organisation’s system and attached to relevant records at a click of a button or e-filing via their management system allowing for more streamlined and risk free filing process.

The IP software industry has hit a fork in the road. The needs of its customers are evolving. Software providers now more than ever need to evolve with them and make sure their products are as innovative as their customers IP.

If you would like to find out more about how Anaqua’s technology is helping the IP industry currently please get in touch to either sales@anaqua.com or contact Ollie Gray directly at ogray@anaqua.com.