Technology roadmapping is an organisational process designed to align business objectives with available or yet-to-be available technologies. Bray and Garcia (1997) describe it as “a way to identify, evaluate and select technology alternatives that can be used to satisfy the need [of the market].” It is also a tool that should be used in the context of an organisation’s strategic planning process. Strategic planning involves asking (and answering) the following four questions: “where are we now?”, “where do we want to go?”, “how do we get there?” and “how do we know we are getting?”. Technology roadmapping is used in conjunction with other tools to help answer the question of how the firm will get to where it wants to go. Groenveld (1997) and Phaal et al. (2004) provide schematic diagrams of a technology roadmap which have been adapted and depicted below.
In the above diagram, the firm is represented by the solid box with the leftmost end representing the firm’s current state as determined in the first phase of strategic planning (where are we now?). The rightmost end of solid box represents the corporate objectives of the firm (where do we want to go?). Going from left to right in this diagram would be going forward in time. The actual technology roadmap then is represented by the dotted box where the top layer represents the market requirements partially determined during the first phase of the strategic planning process and perhaps further elaborated on during the rodmapping activity itself. Right below is the product layer which specifies which products will cater to the market requirements. From the example diagram we can see that this firm will develop a second, interim product that will then be discontinued once the third product is released to market. The third layer in the roadmap is the technology layer which specifies the technologies that will support the planned product roll-out. These technologies may be those that are incorporated into the product itself or they may also be technologies that are used in the process of manufacturing each product. Finally, there are the R&D projects that will be the source of supporting knowledge for the attainment of the critical technologies. R&D projects have been depicted outside of the solid box since—depending on the capacity of the firm—R&D may fall under the responsibility of external research organisations with whom the firm merely forms linkages throughout the development process.
For those who have used Gantt charts and the Balanced Scorecard, technology roadmaps will appear familiar. Indeed, some scholars admit that the technology roadmap, or at least, some of its flavors (there are at least 8), is actually derived from the two. In the next part, we will take a brief look at the process of developing a technology roadmap.
Bray, O. H. and M. L. Garcia 1997. Technology Roadmapping: the Integration of Strategic and Technology Planning for Competitiveness. Innovation in Technology Management-The Key to Global Leadership. PICMET’97: Portland International Conference on Management and Technology:25-28.
Groenveld, P. 1997. Roadmapping Integrates Business and Technology. Research Technology Management. 40(5):48–55.Hill, T. 1994. Manufacturing Strategy: Text and Cases (Second Edition). Illinois: Richard D. Irwin Inc.
Phaal, R., C. J. P. Farrukh, and D.R. Probert 2001. Fast-start Technology Roadmapping. In T. M. Khalil, L.A. Lefebvre, R. M. Mason (Eds.), Management of Technology: the Key to Prosperity in the Third Millennium: Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Management of Technology (IAMOT). Miami FL, 21-25th February, Pergamon, Amsterdam.
Phaal, R., C. J. P. Farrukh, and D. R. Probert 2004. Technology Roadmapping – A Planning Framework for Evolution and Revolution. Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 71:5–26.
Tidd, J., J. Bessant, and K. Pavitt 2006. Managing Innovation: Integrating Technological, Market and Organizational Change. West Sussex:Wiley.
Walsh, S. T. 2004. Roadmapping a Disruptive Technology: A Case Study on the Emerging Microsystems and Top-down Nanosystems Industry. Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 71:161–185.