Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Charting Exploitation Strategies for Emerging Technology: The Emergence Roadmapping Workshop Method Helps Organizations Clarify the Nature of a Potential Future-Value Opportunity and Articulate the Route towards It

Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Charting Exploitation Strategies for Emerging Technology: The Emergence Roadmapping Workshop Method Helps Organizations Clarify the Nature of a Potential Future-Value Opportunity and Articulate the Route towards It

Article excerpt

Investing in early-stage technology is a risky business, but it is crucial to future economic prosperity. Industries emerge and decline on the basis of complex interactions between society, industry, government, and academia, and the various choices and investments made by managers and policy makers. The route from discovery to market is winding and fraught with challenges. And yet managers in business, and policy makers in government, have to make decisions about which technologies to invest in despite substantial levels of technical, market, and economic uncertainty.

Roadmapping methods provide a practical approach to supporting technology and innovation strategy, although their application to emerging technology is particularly challenging (Robinson and Propp 2008). Long development timeframes combined with technical and market uncertainties demand exploratory approaches that combine technology-push and market-pull considerations in what are often quite elaborate processes (Walsh 2004; Vojak and Chambers 2004; Gerdsri 2007). There is a need for agile strategy methods for early-stage technology ventures, encouraging dialogue between research and commercial groups.

Emergence roadmapping (ERM) is a workshop method that supports rapid strategic appraisal of early-stage technologies. The approach, which is based on earlier work demonstrating patterns in the historical emergence of industries (Phaal et al. 2011), has been developed and tested in collaboration with technology ventures, established businesses, and academic research groups. A key feature of the method is a focus on demonstration-oriented goals associated with the significant events and milestones that demarcate the progression from science to technology, application, and market.

The ERM method follows on from the value roadmapping (VRM) approach (Dissel et al. 2009), which enables value opportunities for emerging technology to be identified and prioritized. The ERM method provides a structured process for these opportunities to be explored further, to clarify the strategic direction and to agree on technical and business development actions necessary to move forward.

The Industrial Emergence Framework

The patterns identified in the industrial emergence framework (Phaal et al. 2011), on which ERM is based, are applicable to both the overall pattern of industrial emergence and the particular innovative efforts of firms within an industry. The framework covers the full lifecycle of innovations and industries from early scientific and technological research, to commercially successful applications and industrial activity, to maturity and decline. The emerging technologies that are the focus of ERM, however, fall into the four early phases of the framework, periods during which the emphasis of effort is directed toward scientific, technological, application, and market developments (S-T-A-M) (Figure 1).

The science-dominated (precursor) phase is concerned with activities that establish the supporting scientific phenomena, extending through to the first demonstrators of application potential. This phase stimulates industrial interest and investment in particular market-directed technology studies. The science-technology transition focuses on demonstrating the feasibility of a scientific advance to support a new market-directed technology platform, showing how the science can be integrated into an application-specific functional technology system.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

The technology-dominated (embryonic) phase is concerned with improving the reliability and performance of the market-directed technology to a point where it can be demonstrated in a market-specific environment. The technology-application transition is focused on developing a technology and application to a point where commercial potential can be demonstrated through revenue generation.

The application-dominated (nurture) phase is concerned with improving the price and performance of the application to a point where sustainable business potential can be demonstrated. …

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