2017 Predictions for Intellectual Property Professionals and the Patent Analytics Industry
For better or worse, no one can say that 2016 was dull. And while it might not have produced quite as much excitement in the IP world (phew!), 2016 wasn’t without some notable IP shifts. On January 11th last year I shared my predictions for 2016. Let’s see how I did, and then I’ll give you my predictions for 2017.
Before we take a look back, I’d like to take this moment of reflection to send gratitude to our clients and all the other innovative partners we got a chance to work with this past year. It’s because of you that we continue to be inspired and energized to make big strides, year in and year out, day in and day out.
Now let’s see how well I forecasted 2016. (Disclaimer: I did point out that some of these predictions are a bit ambitious and may take multiple years to accomplish.)
1. Private and public data unite, creating a single cohesive story
For my first 2016 prediction, I said that, “Instead of having silos of data, companies will finally be able to gain insights from private and public data around their portfolios.” I kind of cheated on this one because we were already deep in the works of creating PortfolioIQ, our new capability that bridges the gap of information available from your internal systems (IP management, docketing, spreadsheets, financial systems, etc) and public IP data and analysis. It may seem like this capability has been available in the marketplace for some time already. But the accurate integration of internal system data requires bulk import and synchronization, and if records aren’t matched correctly, all you’ll end up with is multiple records of disparate data. No single picture or view to your IP portfolio, no means for making better decisions. I’m proud to say that the Innography team does not release any feature or capability until it actually solves the problem for our customers and with PortfolioIQ, that is something we have accomplished.
2. Analytics integrate into the IP workflow
I talked about how workflow and analytics are too isolated from one another (a breeding ground for missed opportunities), and that 2016 would be the first year professionals don’t have to juggle multiple interfaces and systems because workflows will proactively suggest new strategies and highlight data that is relevant to daily decisions. It has still got a ways to go, but we are definitely seeing some integration between analytics and IPMS. (Learn more about the first steps we’ve taken with CPA Global) Look for this integration to deepen, and in more creative ways than a simple link between systems. I’m talking about actual integration into a workflow on a single screen.
3. Patent professionals become Big Data scientists
I predicted that the demand to integrate more and more data into a unified model will increase as IP professionals continue to become more savvy about data quality, practical decision metrics, and analytics. That they will understand that Big Data should incorporate ALL the data, including litigation, company financials, PAIR prosecution, etc. Services, renewals, and software are clearly working together more, but this is another long journey that might take a few more years to be fully realized. The industry has shown an understanding of this need for change in how we consider IP data, where the media is also beginning to talk about Big Data for intellectual property (see their article).
4. Budget pressures extend further into IP
Budget cut requests in the IP process have been a trend for the last few years, and I predicted it would only continue as uncertainty in the global economy continues. Corporations are being forced to reevaluate processes, and no doubt the words, “optimize” and “optimization” are used frequently. We definitely get engaged by customers seeking to help cut costs intelligently while minimizing risk. While we released unique cost predicting models (using CPA Global’s IP Forecaster data) to help, this trend will require additional tools and models to evolve around ROI metrics. It is becoming clearer that the return on IP investment to the organization is a central question, so this trend will continue. They key for IP professionals to be successful in addressing these pressures is gaining agreement on how the ROI of IP is calculated.
5. IP becomes central to R&D innovation
Here’s another one on which I may have had inside knowledge. I predicted that R&D and IP would work more seamlessly together in mitigating risks, while increasing strategic focus around collaboration and invention. I’ve had this conversation with heads of IP and R&D alike, the problem is a shared one, and over the years, I’ve wanted to tackle it. I’m proud to say that this “prediction” is now reality after 8 years of our own R&D with the launch of IdeaScout. IdeaScout is a very unique solution in that it targets upstream ideas and trade secrets to streamline the entire innovation process from start to finish. Companies are fully aware of the pains of working upstream and the cultural and social change required in order to succeed with idea submission and innovation management, so rest assured we will continue to streamline and refine the process.
6. Software transforms IP operations
At the beginning of 2016, we’d already seen large productivity improvements and improved business intelligence with analytics. I said that using software to make our lives easier and automating the manual, redundant processes would continue to accelerate, as has long been the promise. Last year, we made real progress with one of the most basic functions: data verification and matching. Matching a case to a public record and finding the differences has been a huge barrier for companies, so we are very excited that we were able to automate the process—making a massive improvement that will surely reap major benefits of in 2017.
All in all, I wasn’t too far off!
Now, let’s leave 2016 behind and get started on 2017. Here are a few macro-trends I foresee for the next 12 months:
1. Artificial Intelligence improves data quality
We will begin to tap into the great power of AI to inform data quality and optimize outcomes in decisions. The volume and quality of data are getting close to complete, it’s staggering to realize how much information is now readily available through our software. Layering in AI-based algorithms minimizes the complexity of making sense of all that data and we continue to partner with customers around these solutions.
2. IP functions transition more to the cloud
While companies still have much of their IP data onsite, the volume and velocity of the data is too much to handle internally. Furthermore, the power of the infrastructure is tremendously more advanced in the cloud, leading to better cost models, and faster, more scalable results.
3. IP departments get security budgets
With the recent hack of the IP law firm for M&A activities, it’s clear that dedicated security operations for IP departments are a necessary measure. As they currently stand, budgets simply don't exist internally for IP IT teams to keep up with all the security monitoring and trends for these systems. Managed services and cloud infrastructure have a major dual benefit of an improved technical experience with a more manageable cost model.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? What do you think will be the biggest trends this year?