Research Topic: Strategic Technology Management
I intend to do research in the field of “Technology Management” in Japan. During my MS in Engineering Management, I studied a subject “Management of Technology” which developed my interest in this subject and I planned to carry out further research in this field from a technologically advanced country.
Japan has provided the world with great instruments of technology. Japan has been instrumental in the development of technologies which have enhanced our global existence, challenged our minds and brightened our future. Toyota and Honda are among many technological achievements of Japan. These two automobile companies have proven in the global marketplace that technology and innovation go hand in hand with consumer needs. That shows the will and determination of people and a country with a long tradition of innovating technologies and its effective management.
Kaizen also known as continuous improvement is a long term approach to work that systematically monitors small incremental changes in process in order to improve efficiency and quality. The Japanese discovered that continuous improvements along with incremental adjustments over long periods of time resulted in measurable improvements in the production process. Teamwork, discipline, morale, quality and input are the five founding elements within this kaizen technology tool. Using this precise and formulated technique the Japanese made tremendous improvements on its production process technologies. Japan continues to be a world leader in its process production ratios. Likewise Kanban, JIT etc are technology tools which are developed by Japanese to manage technology effectively and efficiently in order to improve production and manufacturing processes.
Japan has proven to the world that only making technology is not enough to respond to the market shifts but its effective management goes hand in hand for economic prosperity of a country. That’s why I desire to top up my qualification with a more advance and research based degree from Japan so that I could get an opportunity to learn their technological trends and its management and play my role in the technological progress of my country by implementing that knowledge.
3. Research plan in Japan: (Describe in detail and with specifics – particularly concerning the ultimate goal(s) of your research in Japan):
Strategic Technology Management
Strategic management of technology involves a process which reviews the strategic targets of an enterprise and goals of its technology program and they are revised accordingly. This kind of effective management can help a firm gain and sustain competitive advantages, ranging from incremental improvements in product quality or cost to major breakthroughs that create new market opportunities. The purpose of this research is to propose formulation of technology strategy to create an enabling organizational set up that engenders the effective formulation and implementation of technology strategy and its management. Factors that are associated with improvement in technological competitiveness include long-term planning horizons, research, innovation, quality of products and services, productivity, regulatory and social factors, and most importantly education and training of human resources needed for ever changing technological organization. Frameworks have been developed to show technology management as an interdisciplinary field of study and application, creating linkage among science, engineering and management disciplines.
Keywords: Technology management, technology strategy, business strategy.
The enhancement of economic prosperity for countries, industries and businesses depends on the effective management of technology. The proper exploitation of technology strongly influences business and organization competitiveness which is no longer a matter of choice but a matter of survival in marketplace. Companies are formed to provide a structure and a mechanism that facilitate the spinning out of technology to satisfy those needs. When an organization has a vision and develops its mission statement, it is stating the reasons the organization exists and the inherent values of the organization. When the organization develops a strategy and its associated plans of action, it creates the vehicle that moves it toward the fulfillment of its mission and the attainment of its vision. The purpose of business strategy is to gain a sustainable economic advantage. The purpose of technology strategy is to gain a sustainable technological advantage that provides a competitive edge. The two strategies must be closely intertwined and highly integrated. This requires extensive forethought about the firm’s distinctive technologies, the products or services it can provide, the potential customers and where the organization wants to be in future. The company’s technologies must be harnessed and exploited according to a well designed plan. Effective technology management is based on successfully linking business and technology strategies. Ford (1988) explains that technology strategy is concerned with exploiting, developing and maintaining the sum total of the company’s knowledge and abilities. Many organizations still seem to underestimate technology’s importance. Ford cited a Booz, Allen and Hamilton survey of 800 executives: Two third of them thought that their companies were doing a poor job in harnessing technology to their corporate strategies. In an early survey, conducted by Conference Board in 1982, only 20% of CEOs considered their top technology executives to be within their inner circle of managers. These findings indicate that in the early 1980s many top executives were caught unaware of the forming clouds that resulted in the technological revolution. Failure to develop and integrate technology strategy and business strategy is a major contributing factor in the decline of a firm’s competitiveness. Van Wyk and Sweatt (1994) argued that corporate boards used to concentrate on reviewing financial budgets. Recent indications show that they are becoming more directly involved with the strategic management of technology. Van Wyk and Sweatt suggest that boards should consider ways to improve their technological literacy and capability in order to make informed decisions in an increasingly technological corporate environment.
There are many factors that determine business success; although technology is a very important one, it is not in itself sufficient to ensure business success. Good business is about integrating technological innovation with production, marketing, finance and personnel to achieve established goals.
Research conducted by Frohman (1982) reveals two commonalities among companies that use technology as a competitive weapon. These are:
I. Management views technology as a major competitive weapon but does not emphasize it at the expense of other areas.
II. The criteria used to support any project consist of (a) whether the project supports the business goal, (b) whether the project protects or establishes technological leadership, (c) whether the project solves customer problems.
Technology gives a company a competitive edge. Corporations with inferior technology cannot compete with corporations utilizing superior technology. However to use technology as a competitive weapon, managers must manage it as part of the business system. Michael Porter (1985) advocates that technology strategy be formulated within the larger context of business planning. Porter’s approach to formulating a competitive strategy is to concentrate on optimizing the efficiency of the value chain. This implies developing and maintaining a competitive advantage by finding the most effective means of carrying out all the activities of the business process so as to offer the customer long-term value. Porter proposes that a technology strategy be formulated using the following steps:
I. Identify all the distinct technologies and sub technologies in a value chain.
II. Identify potentially relevant technologies in other industries or under scientific development.
III. Determine the likely path of change of key technologies.
IV. Determine which technologies and potential technological changes are most significant for competitive advantage and industry structure.
V. Assess a firm’s relative capabilities in important technologies and the cost of making improvements.
VI. Select a technology strategy, encompassing all important technologies that reinforce the firm’s overall competitive strategy.
VII. Reinforce business-unit technology strategies at the corporate level.
Mitchell (1985) argues that the first step toward integrating business and technology strategies is to get the business and technical sides of corporate management to agree on common set of priorities. Usually the business side perceives technology as a subset of business, while technologists perceive business as a subset of the general technological ascent of human beings. On one side technology is the subset of business enterprise. Market demographics influence the success of the business. Businesses tend to identify technologies relevant to creating business opportunities that satisfy market demands. On the other side, technology through its role in the ascent of human beings is the influencing factor in creating business. Business becomes a subset of technological advances that create significant opportunities for companies. For optimal results both sides must be integrated into one organizational strategy. Metaphorically speaking, integrating technology strategy and business strategy can be thought of as two sides of a coin; either side is worthless without the other.
Market Demographics Core Technology
Business view of technology Technology view of business
Figure1. Framework for Formulation of Business and Technology Strategies
To identify the relationship between products or services and the underlying technology, a company can use any of several methodologies. Fusfeld (1978) proposes the use of a product-technology matrix where each product or service is broken down into its constituent technologies. Each matrix cell indicates the company’s relative strength in the technology. A company can then determine which technologies it owns, which it would like to acquire and which it wants to outsource. Mitchell (1988, 1992) uses a similar approach to determine core technologies of the telecommunications product business. This approach was used to aid corporate planning, strategic positioning and technology investment at GTE Corporation.
The choice of the most appropriate technological strategy for a business depends upon the environment, its strengths and weaknesses in relation to the competition, and the resources available—not only technological but also manufacturing, marketing, sales, distribution, and financial. Mixed strategies are utilized, but may cause organizational problems when implemented. Four basic technological strategies are: (1) first to market; (2) fast follower and overtaker; (3) cost minimization; and (4) market niche or specialist.
To identify the impact of merging business strategy and technology strategy on organization’s competitiveness.
To develop a clear picture of which areas of technical expertise are most important to the corporation.
To identify tools and techniques in order to increase technical capabilities to produce increased benefits for the organization.
To recognize the strategic implications of technical innovation on business strategy and translate these technical advances into business advantage.
To suggest frameworks showing technology management as interdisciplinary field of study and application, creating linkage among science, engineering and management disciplines.
Total time span = 3 years
1st Year = Study of relevant courses and making literature review.
2nd Year = Studying relevant tools under supervision of supervisor.
3rd Year = Report submission and participation in more than two international conferences.
Possible Outcome = Publication in international journal.
This research will highlight the close coupling of technology and business strategies, the cooperation of R;D;E functions with the manufacturing, marketing and financial functions and close contact with internal and external users. It will provide an introduction to the range of related concepts, ideas and debates that will develop a critical understanding of technological innovation and management.