Techology roadmapping

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Technology roadmapping: linking technology resources to business objectives, Ó University of Cambridge, 14/11/01

Technology Roadmapping:
linking technology resources to business objectives
Robert Phaal, Clare Farrukh and David Probert Centre for Technology Management, University of Cambridge
Institute for Manufacturing, Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RX, UK email: url:



Many managers are aware of the strategic importance of technology in delivering value and competitive advantage to their companies. These issues are becoming more critical as the cost, complexity and rate of technology change increase, and competition and sources of technology globalise. The management of technology for business benefitrequires effective processes and systems to be put in place to ensure that the technological resources within the organisation are aligned with its needs, now and in the future. Following on from a brief introduction to the topic of technology management, this paper focuses on ‘technology roadmapping’, an approach that is being increasingly applied within industry to support the development,communication and implementation of technology and business strategy. Roadmapping is a very flexible approach, and the various aims that it can support are reviewed, together with the different formats that roadmaps take. Also important is the process that is required to develop a good roadmap, and the paper describes a method for rapid initiation of roadmapping in the business strategy1, together with someof the characteristics of good roadmaps and the systems needed for supporting their application. 1.1 Technology and the management of technology There are many published definitions of ‘technology’ (for example, Floyd 1997, Whipp 1991, Steele 1989). Examination of these definitions highlights a number of factors that characterise technology, which can be considered as a specific type of knowledge(although this knowledge may be embodied within a physical artefact, such as a machine, component, system or product). The key characteristic of technology that distinguishes it from more general knowledge types is that it is applied, focusing on the ‘know-how’ of the organisation. While technology is usually associated with science and engineering (‘hard’ technology), the processes which enableits effective application are also important - for example new product development and innovation processes, together with organisational structures and supporting knowledge networks (‘soft’ aspects of technology).
1 This paper has been produced as part of a three-year applied research project, supported by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)


Technologyroadmapping: linking technology resources to business objectives, Ó University of Cambridge, 14/11/01

Treating technology as a type of knowledge is helpful, as knowledge management concepts can be useful for more effectively managing technology (for example, Stata, 1989, Nonaka, 1991, Leonard-Barton, 1995). For instance, technological knowledge generally comprises both explicit and tacit knowledge.Explicit technological knowledge is that which has been articulated (for example in a report, procedure or user guide), together with the physical manifestations of technology (equipment). Tacit technological knowledge is that which cannot be easily articulated, and which relies on training and experience (such as welding or design skills). Similarly to ‘technology’, there are many definitions of‘technology management’ in the literature (for example, Roussel et al., 1991, Gaynor, 1996). For the purposes of this paper the following definition is adopted, proposed by the European Institute of Technology Management (EITM)2: "Technology management addresses the effective identification, selection, acquisition, development, exploitation and protection of technologies (product, process and...
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