The management of technology and innovation can refer to using/managing technology tools and resources as an enabler to innovation and it can also refer to the using / managing technological breakthroughs as the catalyst to new innovative products and or processes.
Innovation has been defined as
“the design, invention, development and / or implementation of new or altered products, services, processes, systems, organizational structures, or business models for the purpose of creating value for customers and financial returns for the firm.”
- Incremental innovations improve your product or process and therefore should keep your customers motivated in terms of repeat purchases.
- Radical innovations can provide a true competitive advantage in terms of having the potential to substantially increase the size of the existing market.
In our modern world often as important as the innovation management process is the management and organization of the firm’s knowledge as an enabler to innovation. Technology is often used to support the knowledge management initiatives that assist in promoting the innovation process, often in the form of knowledge management tools.
Knowledge management tools enable knowledge to be recorded and distributed across the organization. Such strengthening of a firm’s knowledge capabilities has been shown to have a positive effect on a firm’s innovation abilities, for example, refer to Leonard-Barton’s 1995 book – Wellsprings of Knowledge: Building and Sustaining the Sources of Innovation by Harvard Business School Press (Amazon affiliate link)
This adds an extra layer of complexity to the manager’s role as now not only does she need to be fully aware of the skills, techniques, and complexities of managing innovation but also needs to be aware and fully conversant in the use of the knowledge management tools that are in place within the organization.
The manager needs to ensure that such tools are being used effectively throughout the organization. Use is a requirement in order to strengthen the firm’s knowledge and in turn to increase the firm’s innovative outputs.
The other side of the management of technology and innovation is the use of new breakthrough technologies as an enabler or source of new innovations. The manager needs to be aware of the time lag between the development of technology and the commercialization of a product or service. The manager must also ensure that she regularly scans the external environment both in and out of her field-of-reference for new technologies. The quicker you are aware of a new technology the faster that you can use it as a source of new innovation.
Modern knowledge management tools often incorporate blogs, wikis, or other discussion type portals where users can raise and discuss new technologies as they become available. Ideally, such tools will also span organization divisions as many innovations spawn from such synergies in terms of applying one particular field’s technology to an entirely different field. For example, global positioning satellite systems were never originally designed to be used in a family vehicle.