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Technology has existed since the birth of humanity, since the first stone tools were made around 2.4 million years ago, and has been an incessant fuel of economic growth in Europe since around 9000 B.C. Today, the growth of the global economy, and the increases in living standards that this makes possible, are still tightly coupled with the development of new technology. At an organisational level, individual scientists, engineers and their managers contribute to mankind’s technological expertise, and hence indirectly influence living standards both in the developed and the developing world. Yet our research has found that in many firms, particularly in small firms with limited resources, the development of technology is stifled by poor planning.
Technological decisions can have far-reaching strategic implications. When US electronics firms outsourced radio transmitter components in the early 1950s to Japanese suppliers, for example, they helped to establish the electronics industry in Japan and Hong Kong. These same suppliers eventually became major competitors in US markets. Experienced managers will often rely on ‘gut-feel’ to make such decisions. Whilst their decisions may generally be sound, a structured approach to such trade-offs will on average provide greater strategic insights, as well as a better understanding of threats, opportunities, and how the transition to the new technology can be implemented. With today’s increasing emphasis on due diligence, having a rational and traceable process for dealing with any important decisions is particularly valuable.

Based on over three years of research investigating technology planning in organisations whose core business relies on technology, we have developed a general nine-step process for strategic technology planning, incorporating a systems approach, stakeholder analysis, game theory, and scenario analysis.



We have also developed a range of tools for technology planning workshops that allow us to get actionable results with the minimum of input from key participants. Continuing to learn from our research, from our experience in facilitating technology planning workshops and from the technology management literature, we have developed a strong capability in technology planning.


This page last modified 25 July, 2008 by Michael Emes

Dr Michael Emes

Mullard Space Science Laboratory - Holmbury St. Mary - Dorking - Surrey - RH5 6NT - Telephone: +44 (0)1483 204100 - Copyright © 1999-2005 UCL

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