Technology management is a set of management disciplines that allows organizations to manage their technological fundamentals to create competitive advantage. Typical concepts used in technology management are:
technology strategy (a logic or role of technology in an organization),
technology forecasting (identification of possible relevant technologies for the organization, possibly through technology scouting),
technology roadmap (mapping technologies to business and market needs), and
technology project portfolio (a set of projects under development) and technology portfolio (a set of technologies in use).
The role of the technology management function in an organization is to understand the value of certain technology for the organization. Continuous development of technology is valuable as long as there is a value for the customer and therefore the technology management function in an organization should be able to argue when to invest in technology development and when to withdraw.
Technology management can also be defined as the integrated planning, design, optimization, operation and control of technological products, processes and services, a better definition would be the management of the use of technology for human advantage.
The Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering defines technology management as the field concerned with the supervision of personnel across the technical spectrum and a wide variety of complex technological systems. Technology management programs typically include instruction in production and operations management, project management, computer applications, quality control, safety and health issues, statistics, and general management principles. Perhaps the most authoritative input to our understanding of technology is the diffusion of innovations theory developed in the first half of the twentieth century. It suggests that all innovations follow a similar diffusion pattern – best known today in the form of an “s” curve though originally based on the concept of a standard distribution of adopters. In broad terms the “s” curve suggests four phases of a technology life cycle – emerging, growth, mature and aging.
These four phases are coupled to increasing levels of acceptance of an innovation or, in our case a new technology. In recent times for many technologies an inverse curve – which corresponds to a declining cost per unit – has been postulated. This may not prove to be universally true though for information technology where much of the cost is in the initial phase it has been a reasonable expectation.
The second major contribution to this area is the Carnegie Mellon Capability Maturity Model. This model proposes that a series of progressive capabilities can be quantified through a set of threshold tests. These tests determine repeatability, definition, management, and optimization. The model suggests that any organization has to master one level before being able to proceed to the next.
The third significant contribution comes from Gartner – the research service, it is the hype cycle, this suggests that our modern approach to marketing technology results in the technology being overhyped in the early stages of growth. Taken together, these fundamental concepts provide a foundation for formalizing the approach to managing technology.
Mobile device management (MDM) is the administrative area dealing with deploying, securing, monitoring, integrating and managing mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, in the workplace and other areas. The intent of MDM is to optimize the functionality and security of mobile devices within the enterprise, while simultaneously protecting the corporate network. MDM is usually implemented with the use of a third party product that has management features for particular vendors of mobile devices. Virtual Works can help you manage your devices with best practices and configure or create your apps.
Invention is an activity often identified with a single engineer or scientist working alone in a laboratory until he or she happens upon an idea that will change the world, like the light bulb. In reality, industrial invention, at least since the time of Edison, has involved many people working together in a collaborative setting to create new technology. Innovation requires an even broader set of people, including manufacturing engineers, marketing and sales managers, investors and financial managers, and business strategists. The methods for organizing this set of people to bring a new idea from the laboratory to the marketplace form the basis of the discipline of innovation management.
While users and other external organizations are important sources of ideas for innovations, the internal organization of a company has the greatest impact on its capability for creating innovation. The ideal work environment for innovation does not exist. Instead, innovation is facilitated through the tension and balance between various conflicting but necessary forces:
- Creativity and discipline. Creative employees are needed who challenge existing assumptions and develop new and radical approaches to solving key problems. That creativity must be tempered by the discipline to capture the ideas generated by creative employees and by systematically determining which ideas can be turned into innovations, and how.
- Individuality and teamwork. Creativity is considered an individual trait, with some people being more naturally creative than others. But innovation is clearly a team effort, often involving hundreds or thousands of people. While companies should allow employees to express their individuality as a way to facilitate creative thought, that freedom must be placed in the context of the firm as a collaborative environment, where even the most brilliant individual has to work well with others for the company to succeed.
- Exploration and focus. New ideas can come from a wide variety of sources, and it is hard to predict which paths of investigation will lead to the next breakthrough technology. Still, no firm has the resources to conduct research in every conceivable field at all times. The freedom to explore new domains of knowledge needs to be balanced by corporate decisions on what areas of investigation have the greatest promise of paying off, and focusing research in those areas.
- Long-term and short-term. Radical innovations often take years to progress from concept to tangible product. For example, the digital computer invented in the 1950s had its roots in research conducted in the mid-1800s on logic and mathematics. Unfortunately, most firms cannot spend money on research that will only begin generating revenues in ten or twenty years. Most innovative activity in firms by necessity is focused on short-term improvements and technologies. Still, firms should not lose sight of long-term innovations, as those are the technologies that can undermine existing market dominance.