Business Intelligence - Interview with David Borel


David Borel Centredoc Neuchâtel

Who is Centredoc and what services does the company offer?

Centredoc is a cooperative that has been in existence since 1964. It was created by the watch industry. Its purpose is to collect, prepare and synthesize strategic information for innovators. I am Deputy Director of Centredoc, in charge of the service division, which includes research, monitoring and publications for the industry.   

What is the difference between a research mandate and a monitoring mandate?

A research mandate is triggered when an inventor or company has an idea for innovation. It wishes to verify the innovative nature of its idea, its patentability or its freedom of exploitation. We are responsible for checking the novelty criterion. The dossier is produced only once, with a deliverable defining what is innovative or not. On this basis, the company or person may or may not file a patent. This approach is ad hoc and limited in time.On the contrary, monitoring is a repeated process, where new data is transmitted to the client on a weekly or monthly basis.

How does this monitoring process start?

Ideally, companies come to us. That said, many of them are still not very aware of the importance of monitoring for their business.  First of all, we meet the people who will use business intelligence (manager, engineer). We try to understand what information influences their decisions. Then, our team transforms these needs into identifying sources of information, then sets up the tools to collect them.  

And for a startup, is the process the same?

Business intelligence also applies to this. Compared to an SME, the structure is generally smaller. People are much more focused on vital aspects such as capital, HR, partnerships.Monitoring can help them go much faster to find investors, markets and partners. We focus on the essential subjects to be addressed, unlike SMEs, which can afford a wider spectrum of information.

What are the competitive advantages that result from the implementation of a monitoring process?

This process can avoid making mistakes and losing money, for example, making R&D efforts on products or services that already exist. It also helps to identify opportunities. This is particularly convenient for startups who are highly mobile in relation to the opportunities for their technology. The watch allows them to identify axes that the startupers had not originally thought of.  

What are the technologies underlying the services you offer?

We are information brokers. We buy and sell information. Our work is in constant evolution. Indeed, there has been the arrival of computers, databases, cartography and statistics. Today, there are artificial intelligence algorithms that help us process a very large amount of information. For example, several million new patents are filed worldwide each year. It is necessary to extract the information that is most valuable to the client. Algorithms do very quickly and very well what a human being does well, so it allows our team to focus on information that is difficult to analyze and qualify. We bring human value based on existing algorithms. A typical company that buys a database and an algorithm still has to do the human processing. This is where Centredoc takes on its full value.

What is the added value of an innovation cluster in the Neuchâtel region?

Microcity connects innovators, industrial companies with young people leaving universities. This allows the mixing of ideas, technologies, in a physical place. Centredoc is experiencing this dynamism on a daily basis within the Microcity cluster.

Roman Sojic and Victoria Barras