Technology Innovation Management Basics

Innovation perspectives, technology management, technology innovation management and innovation management technology discussed.

Technology innovation management is relatively new. Moreover, since technology is rapidly changing, the usual view is that innovation and technology management is a hit or miss discipline.

In 1985, Peter Drucker states in “The Discipline of Innovation,” Harvard Business Review that: “Unexpected successes and failures are such productive sources of innovation…most businesses dismiss them, disregard them, and even resent them.”

More than two decades later, managers are now better equipped. Today, managers can expect and manage the unexpected with two major categories in innovation. One, how do innovations arise, and two, which type?

Technology and Innovation Categories 

With insights from innovation pioneers, Rebecca Henderson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Kim Clark, Harvard University, in “Architectural Innovation: The Reconfiguration of Existing Product Technologies and the Failure of Established Firms,” Administrative Science Quarterly, 1990, provided four types of innovations in a manufacturing environment. These are:

  • Incremental Innovation
  • Radical Innovation
  • Modular Innovation
  • Architectural Innovation.

Joseph Bower and Clayton Christensen in “Disruptive Technologies – Catching the Wave,” Harvard Business Review, 1995, went on to add two additional innovation types according to technology and market leadership. These are:

  • Disruptive Innovation or Technology
  • Sustaining Innovation or Technology

In another area, while working at the Soviet navy patent office, Genrich Altshuller categorized how innovations arise after analyzing some 200,000 patents. Altshuller came up with “40 Principles: TRIZ Keys to Technical Innovation,” Technical Innovation Center, 1998. Here, Altshuller realized that most new inventions improved on earlier inventions in 40 ways such as through segmentation or combination with other inventions, and so on.

Most significantly, Altshuller indicated that only a few inventions have totally different scientific or engineering principles. The bulk of new Soviet inventions were incremental innovations, modular innovations, and architectural innovations.

Hence, it can be noted that Henderson and Clark saw innovation from a manufacturing perspective as they investigated Photolithographic Alignment Equipment Manufacturers in the high tech semiconductors industry. Bower and Christensen, meanwhile, attempted to see innovation from a customer perspective with an analysis of demand for the various innovations in disk drives. Most significantly, Altshuller saw innovation from an inventor’s perspective as he investigated 200,000 patents in the Soviet navy.

Thus, the three crucial viewpoints on innovation are:

  • Intellectual Resource Provider or Inventor
  • Manufacturer of the New Invention or Innovation
  • Customers Who Ultimately Benefit From These Innovations

Academic Definitions

As a discipline, technology management as Jon Beard observes in “Management of Technology: A Three Dimensional Framework with Propositions for Future Research,” Knowledge, Technology, & Policy, 2002, is still “fragmented and dispersed…creating difficulty…in the management of technology to locate and integrate the available knowledge.”

Moreover, a review of academic and scientific journals on innovation likewise reflects the same observation. Definitions are many and a consensus on definitions is still absent. Thus, practical definitions will be offered instead.

Practical Definitions

Technology Management is the management of these in broad terms:

  • Creation, manufacturing and deployment of new innovations at the fastest time
  • Improvement of processes or tools within the organization at minimal cost and maximum benefit
  • Strategic response to new technologies or innovations that are developed outside of the organization whether from competition or neutral entities

Technology Innovation Management refers to the management of products that constantly require innovation for a firm to sustain leadership. This pertains to new products development applying Altshuller’s 40 Principles of Technical Innovation on:

  • Architectural Innovation
  • Incremental Innovation
  • Modular Innovation

For instance, a DARPA Program Manager with a RD&E portfolio has project managers in-charged with improving or developing components that can be combined to create new applications. Say, materials technology research can improve armor or speed of aircrafts, or artificial intelligence research can improve guidance systems in tanks, aircrafts, and ships.

In turn, these military innovations can have consumer applications. As the Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems, US National Research Council, in The Competitive Edge: Research Priorities for U.S. Manufacturing, 1991, says “Advanced Technology Development…is relevant to research tightly linked to design, engineering, manufacturing, and marketing.”

Finally, Innovation Management Technology refers to the processes or products that improve an organization’s innovation capability. Some examples include:

  • Agile Techniques
  • Open Innovation Model
  • Software for new products modeling/design

Why is Strategic Management of Technology Innovation Important?

Needs are infinite and resources are limited. Leverage plays a key role in the strategic management of technology innovation. The ideal is to serve as many needs as possible with the least resources at the best results. Simply, expenses should be recovered, benefits earned, and efforts rewarded for bringing such innovation to functional use.

Why is Innovation in Management Important?

Well-managed innovation can gain leadership for an organization while poor management of innovation can lead to an organization’s demise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *