When we say technology management activities, it is evident that the entire management process has to be highly specific to industry needs. For this purpose, we should carry out a special process that can, step-by-step, integrate the concept of technology management effectively to a business.
Technology management activities are nothing but standard procedural steps for managing advanced technologies and old technologies both. These are a set of technology management activities that enable the exploration and exploitation of technologies. Each of these activities assist in the better implementation of routine managerial activities that centre around the input-to-output goal. I will now explain all the five technology management activities in detail.
What’s in it for me?
Let us delve into these activities now and understand the concept, purpose and the need of each.
Acquisition refers to how a company will acquire the technologies required to achieve its goal. We can carry out this activity internally as well as externally. Internal acquisition is when a company creates its own technology and uses it for itself. However, not all companies have the resources to create a technology – these resources can be finance, skilled manpower, etc. External acquisition is when, companies may be open to collaborative development or purchasing the entirety of the system from an external vendor. We can carry out the technology management activity in one of the following ways:
The first method is to leverage the Research and Development department of your organisation. Keep in mind this is an internal acquisition method since you are using resources internal to your organization. The R&D department does research to generate new knowledge at technical ideas aimed at solving the problems your business faces.
Research and development activities is outsourced in this method. The outsourced third party may be a contract research organization, teams of consultants, researchers or experts. In some cases, the research work can also be outsourced to universities.
A license is a legal binding document which allows a third party firm to use the invented technology for a specific purpose. In this situation, we are the licensee company and the company that own the technology and is ready to license it is the licensor.
Ad-hoc partnerships are useful to solve specific problems. Complex alliances and joint ventures are useful to complete acquisitions. The main aim is to work in a team to achieve a common goal.
Mergers & Acquisitions:
Acquisition of a company is the most certain way of securing a technology and preventing others from acquiring it, although if the two companies are of roughly equivalent size, a merger may be appropriate. The goal in all M&A activity is to acquire and integrate an external entity into the existing company.
It comprises of searching, auditing, data collection and intelligence possesses for technologies and markets. In this phase we actually try to identify the problem and hence, document our needs. It is necessary for technologies at all stages of development. The goal of this technology management activity is to spot or identify technologies and their applications that may be important to the business. Technology Managers need to continuously search, scan and explore new opportunities. It involves identification of alternatives for a specific problem in terms of technological limitations. It has 2 main aspects to it:
It means predicting the future. This process is possible by algorithms and educated guesses driven by data. It is useful for enterprises and technology managers so that they are prepared for the future. As we know technology is changing everyday, forecasting plays a vital role in helping our business to stay relevant at all times by reducing uncertainty. The insights derived by forecasting can help us take better, informed and powerful data-driven decisions.
Auditing in this case is a detailed evaluation of all the in-house technologies and their status. The main purpose of performing a technology audit is to identify and evaluate the firm’s technological resources and capabilities as well. We also assess and rank the technologies as well. Sometimes, technologies are also classified according to their competitive potential. The 4 categories are Base technology, Critical technology, Pacing technology and emerging technology. Audit also includes human intelligence, IP work, research, experimentation and publications.
It comprises of choosing the best alternatives for our problem by taking into account company level strategic issues, objectives and finally choosing the right technology by taking the right decision. The identification phase provides us with a lot of data. In this phase, we convert this data into information and take the decision on which one should we proceed with. This technology management activity also requires a strategic viewpoint for the supporting technologies of the organization. We should keep the long term vision and goal in mind while taking any decision. Remember, the decision your technology manger takes has the ability to make or mar your organization’s life. It includes 3 main processes:
In this phase, we study the audit thoroughly, made during the identification phase. The forecasting of the technological innovations of our industry must used for perusal. We must also analyze competitor & consumer behaviour towards technology to derive powerful insights.
Choice & Ideation:
The mission and selection of technology depends on this activity as in this phase, the plan of action & mission is developed. The organisational actions and operating procedure with regard to the technology are formulated as well.
The plan and the decided procedure are put into actions. This phase is all about performing and implementing everything planned earlier.
It includes incremental developments, process improvements and realizing the full potential of the acquired technology by using it to the fullest of its capacity is in order to reap benefits from it. The final motive of this technology management activity is to gain competitive advantage. If the exploitation phase is not managed well, the return on technology investments will be low. As a result, this will demotivate and bring the organization morale down. Thus, this is a very important phase for any firm. The 3 main sub-processes involved in this activity are Commercialization, Technology transfer and Utilization.
It is the launch of product/service into the market based on a business model using the selected technology. The technology which has been selected must have a business angle to it and must solve a problem of the customer. Only then will he/she be willing to buy it from us.
It is the process of transferring the technology and information/knowledge develop by the inventor to the technology buyer. This phase is extremely important for developing the know-how of a specific technology we as a firm, plan to use. This process looks simple but in the real world is difficult to implement due to various reasons like skill-set, difference in opinions, etc.
It consists of using the technology to perform operations or selling technology based products/services as per the situation. It also involves measuring the performance and improving the technology from time to time by implementing changes. This phase is also used for developing new business case for the technology.
The aim of this technology management activity is to convert the competitive advantage into a sustainable competitive advantage by protecting not only the technology but also the intellectual assets of the firm using various tools. It involves protecting the technological assets using laws, rules and regulations. Some of them are Patents, Copyrights, Ant-Piracy measures, Trademarks, Trade secret, etc. The protection of only the newly acquired technology is not enough. The portfolio of all the IP developed by our organisation needs to protected.
Not only this, also the knowledge workers and the inventors, R&D personnel are vulnerable to a data breach. Hence, we must take measures to protect them as well. This activity should not only include physical or legal ways to protect the technology but also use technology and develop products in such a way that it is very difficult for competitors to reverse-engineer it. We should always keep in mind is that our competitors can replicate our products or technologies. But they can never copy our organizational processes, tacit knowledge, culture easily. So, we must focus on protecting that as well.
All the activities I mentioned above are equally important. Even if one of the activity is not performed properly it will have a cascading effect on all other activities. We need to align the technology management activities. As an organization we must prepare ourselves to take this forward. These activities are cross-functional in nature and just the Technology Manager cannot do wonders alone. However, the main aim of the organization must be to always improve the utilization of the technology as much as possible and look for better alternatives to provide value to the society. If you wish to learn more tools like S-Curve, Roadmapping, etc. you can check out my blog on Technology Management Tools.