The Journal of Dental Hygiene Volume 83 Issue

206 The Journal of Dental Hygiene Volume 83 Issue 4 Fall 2009
turn on the investment will all need
to be considered.
If it is determined that the research priority will be in a non–core
competency or new area, then it is
important to first evaluate the cost
of entry. This can be accomplished
by reviewing and applying Michael
Porter’s “Five Forces” in his 1998
publication On Competition.
company must also consider how
this expansion of the corporate
brand image would be perceived
and what the options to entry are.
For example, is it in the organization’s best interest to research and
develop a new product or procedure
alone? Or is a strategic partnership
the better choice? Is an acquisition
of the product/procedure/ technology the best approach? Once the
plan of entry is decided, a plan after
entry must be formulated including
a timeline, cost and return on investment.
Now that the key priorities have
been listed, they need to be prioritized in rank order. Strategic plans,
both short and long term, must then
be developed around these priorities. It will be important to ensure
that the appropriate resources are
allocated for all proposed research
and that key performance indicators
are in place in order to consistently
monitor the progress of the research
It is important to consider both
the advantages and challenges associated with merging research interests between academia, government
and industry. Several advantages do
exist, including the fact that these
types of collaborations are relationship based and develop as a result
of solid relationships between academia and industry. Because of this
platform, funding support is usually
straightforward and predictable.
In addition, there is solid support
for proposed methodologies and
techniques, as well as a dedicated,
reliable team of corporate research
and development employees who
are always available as an ongoing
Strategic Planning and
Research Priorities in
Private Industry
Karen A. Raposa, RDH, MBA
Colgate–Palmolive Company
Prior to any strategic planning of
industry–supported research work, it
is important to identify the priorities
of the corporate organization. These
priorities will be critical to understand in order to ensure that the research you are proposing is relevant
to the corporation and meets their
strategic needs.
Corporations will identify their
priorities based on many different
approaches. One approach might be
to look at market research results to
consider feedback and insights from
both consumers and professionals.
These studies might be conducted at
conventions, through experts or key
opinion leaders in the field, via advisory board meetings, through focus
groups (qualitative research) and/
or broad surveys (quantitative research). Often during these research
studies, unmet consumer/patient
needs may be uncovered or an unmet need within the profession may
be revealed and explored.
Many companies will also review
new and emerging trends in the marketplace. These can be either product or procedure trends. Some examples of emerging markets today
might be dry mouth, erosion, sensitivity, minimally invasive dentistry
or even spa dentistry.
In addition to considering what
research needs to be conducted in the
future, companies will look to explore the research that may already
exist on a specific topic to date. This
research may have been conducted
within the company or outside of
the organization. It may be research
conducted on other products, on a
specific ingredient(s) or on a specific subset of the population.
Organizations seeking to identify priorities must also be aware of
competitive activity within the category they may be exploring. They
need to understand the activities and
products in the competitive landscape that are gaining traction. In
addition, the internet can be a wonderful tool to acquire knowledge
about trends and fads via Google,
You Tube and various blogs.
Understanding technology, activities, products and procedures that
are approved and available in other
parts of the world can also be a key
driver in identifying research priorities. In some cases this learning
may come from a competitor, but
often times it is a result of exploring
worldwide trends, fads and emerging sciences.
Finally, and probably most importantly, a corporate organization
must be mindful of its core competencies, but must also understand if
there is opportunity to move beyond
the competencies that exist today to
a competency that may be acquired.
Ultimately, any new competencies
would need to be a strong strategic
fit in order to avoid potential disastrous results.
Once the corporate priorities are
identified, they must then be prioritized in order to come to a key decision on what research should be pursued. For example, recognizing the
corporate strategy for the study (i.e.
long or short term, local, regional or
global) will be critical to the design
of the study. In addition, the core
competency of the organization is
critical to the decision making and
prioritizing process. In reviewing
this aspect, it is important to determine how the option expands the
current portfolio and if it does so
in a meaningful way. In looking at
the possibility of a product line extension, a company must consider
whether the additional products in
the line will contribute meaningful
product benefits or will move the
product line into a different or new
and meaningful area. Finally, the
timeline to get the results, the cost
of getting those results and the re-
Volume 83 Issue 4 Fall 2009 The Journal of Dental Hygiene 207
resource. Once the data has been
collected, an additional advantage
to this type of collaboration is that
there are corporate employees who
are able to run the statistical analyses that are needed for final report
and article submissions. Finally, the
end result of this type of collaboration can lead to even more interaction between these groups, such as
additional studies, consulting or ongoing long–term collaborations.
1. Porter M. On competition. Boston: Harvard Business School
Publishing; 1996.
Disclosure: The author of this manuscript is employed by Colgate–Palmolive Company.
The challenges with these merging research interests include the
need for common interests, the fact
that the priorities of either team may
change mid–stream or the economic
pressures that may exist as the research study progresses, as well as
the level of oversight the corporation may choose to impose on the
researcher. Overall, however, the
advantages far outweigh the challenges and great opportunities exist
from these types of academic, government and industry research interactions and collaborations.
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