Technology is another one of those nebulous terms that are hard to pin down. You may immediately think of sciences in the laboratory. But technology is the application of science. The key feature of science is that it is systematized. There is a body of knowledge, processes, and rules about how something behaves.
“Technology is anything that allows you to develop the product or service. It can be a chemical process, a business model, a sequence of steps that allow a service to be delivered, a financing method. Even think of something like Myers-Briggs for typing personalities – that’s a technology.”
So, what does technology mean for your business?
Where will you focus? On those capabilities that give you a distinctive advantage relative to competitors
Identify what kinds of technologies you need a competitive advantage in, and what level of capability do you need?
Wheelwright and Clark (1) classify technologies as “know how” and “know why.” By “know how” they mean the ability to create, produce and market its products and deliver them to customers. Some of this comes from practical experience also called technical knowledge, but some of it comes from “know why” a deep knowledge or understanding of why products or processes work as they do and is based on science or scientific research.
Technical capability is the ability to combine both know-how and know-why to achieve specific results in its products and processes.
When selecting technologies to focus on, you have to keep in mind that most firms have know-how in many areas, but few areas in which it has or can develop know-why and thus a truly superior capability.
Technology strategy guides the organization in the acquisition, development, and application of technology for purposes of creating and providing products. Some technologies will be the cornerstone of product value propositions, requiring careful attention to the plan for how the technology will be developed, utilized, maintained, and supported.
- Steven C. Wheelwright and Kim B. Clark, Revolutionizing Product Development: Quantum Leaps in Speed, Efficiency and Quality. The Free Press, New York.