Prerequisites of Marketing of a Technology

The complete marketing of a technology requires at least the following prerequisites:

Just as a company analyses its product portfolio according to the position of its products in their life cycle, so it should pay attention to the TLC positions of its existing product and process technologies.

Decide on acquisition and divestment issues at an appropriate time: TLC planning requires marketing decisions regarding licensing or sale of technology at an appropriate time. These need to be constantly monitored before and after application launch. If the company lacks production or marketing resources, the possibility of outright sale should be built into technology development plans initially. In any case timing is most important in TLC planning. Full exploitation of a technology frequently involves earlier rather than later license or sale.

Separate technology marketing function from general activities: Technology buyers usually have a better idea of where they stand in terms of technology when compared to competitors. To affect the sale in such a situation the technology seller must handle the marketing function carefully and hand over the job to specialist marketing staff who are well versed in the field only after these specialists have carried out detailed analyses of a technology and its potential markets should their work be integrated with that of general strategic planners.

Performing a function the cheapest way:

One TV Colour company uses cross functional teams with representatives from manufacturing, materials, and its vendors to study the specifications of a component and change it or the raw material itself without affecting functionality. For instance, it is reducing the bandwidth of its 21-inch colour picture tube from 36mm to 30mm which will allow it to save Rupees 2 per tube.  For a product which costs Rupees 2000 this could be big money. Likewise, an examination of the picture tubes manufactured in other countries revealed that the metal frame was thinner than in its products. So, the TV company lowered the thickness of the frame by 0.08 mm. This has reduced its material costs by 20 per cent. And the co., has also redesigned the pallets, reducing the wood consumption per pallet, allowing the company to save around Rupees 40 lakh per month.

There are not many successful firms in this world that have successfully converted technological ideas into useful acceptable products. Those firms that have an envious track record in this regard have obviously succeeded in integrating technological innovations and corporate planning efforts successfully and emerged as winners in the last couple of years. There are of course, historical reasons for not giving technology its due place in corporate planning.

Managers usually possess expertise in areas such as law, accounting, manufacturing, finance or some other corporate function. Their limited training in science and technology areas does not give them enough confidence to deal with technological change quickly. Consequently they fail to take technological inputs while making economic forecasts. Market research also tends to have a short term perspective in the absence of adequate technological inputs.

Lack of knowledge: We know very little about the process of technological change; the knowledge we have is new (accumulated in the last 10 to 15 years) and is yet to be synthesised.

Lack of appropriate framework: Partly due to limited experience we lack adequate frameworks for viewing technological change. There is nothing comparable in this field to the simplifying frameworks for strategic business planning which have become prevalent in the last decade. The management of technology as a result, stands neglected and discounted even in business schools.

Lack of long range focus: Technological innovations demand long term planning, demanding top management support and commitment of resources on a long term basis. Most corporations however focus their energies on short term objectives – partly dictated by their short term cash flow needs. Also, the development objectives are biased towards existing needs such as product improvement, cost reduction etc.

Lack of initiative to take risks:  Most businesses are organized around the production process. They are not organized to recognize or reward the uncertainties, risks and time constraints of the technological innovation process. As a result the most important technological change originates outside of the firm  or even  of the industry that ultimately uses it.

For fairly obvious reasons, the technological needs of large companies exposed to global competition can’t be left to chance. They have to be carefully planned taking various factors into account.

Integrating top management plans with   technological needs, taking a long range view of what needs to be done to ensure continual growth.

Evaluating technology options and specifying various routes for technology upgrades – either through in-house development of technology or acquisition of technology.