“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.”
– Earl Nightingale
Roadmapping techniques have been shown to assist over 250 private and public organizations in strategic planning.
This article reviews what a technology roadmap is and how it can make a difference in industrial innovation.
What is a Technology Roadmap?
According to Industry Canada, technology roadmap is a comprehensive tool that gives an overall image on the present status of the technology landscape and provides extensive information regarding market demand and trends. On an industry wide scale, the process of technology roadmapping brings all stakeholders (e.g. Industry, SMEs, Academia, Investors, and Government) together for a shared vision of technology innovation, using within a specialized market or sector.
On a smaller scale, for an individual company, a technology roadmap defines the road ahead for a company to achieve their goals and to satisfy the market demand through improved knowledge and productivity growth.
Within a technology roadmap, the feasibility and flexibility in creating necessary technologies allows different stakeholders to be mapped onto different technological alternatives for future plan development.
Cleantech Companies & Startups – Why a Roadmap?
If you are the CTO or lead engineer of an emerging cleantech, agtech or industrial innovation company, you should be creating a technology development roadmap.
A technology development roadmap is an important tool for company growth, for bigger picture planning and visioning, but also day-to-day project management. From a project perspective, it helps with:
- insuring the most efficient use of your own resources in developing new technology and giving you a better understanding of how to execute on development plans (and when)
- minimizing the amount of rework you have to do when things go sideways (which they will) – you will have a tool to adjust your plans quickly and easily.
- identifying where you’re off track and getting back on track (i.e. if the development is going off in an unplanned direction, or in a direction that will not get you to your end goal).
Technology roadmaps are not just for large corporations – a technology development roadmap is very important for startups and emerging companies as well. Properly done, they can show the value of your IP and allow investors to see what they are investing in.
By being able to show the scope and expertise that has gone into the development of your IP, your company becomes more valuable, and your pitch to investors easier to put together.
Foresight Deliver Program & Custom Roadmap Development
- Developing a technology roadmap is a core focus of Foresight’s Deliver program for CTO/Engineers – the program’s core premise is that technological and business development play a crucial role in a successful venture. A technology development roadmap is a tool that merges the two and can really move your company forward.
- Foresight also offers focused consulting and facilitation for individual companies or organizations who want to create their own technology development roadmaps outside the scope of the Deliver program – please contact us for more information.
Roadmaps Help Increase Market Competitiveness
Changes in the market could be dramatic and unpredictable. As new markets open, it gets harder for an industry to enter the new market due to its strategic juncture. New technologies and skills are necessary for companies to maintain their productive growth and to stay competitive in the market.
However, it can be difficult for companies in an industry to figure out the most appropriate technology alternative, the best timing to make changes, and the right pathway to go for. In times like these, a technology roadmap that provides clear directions is important.
A well-researched roadmap helps predict future market needs based on well-formed assumptions and data-based resources, which is essential when making decisions especially for capital intensive organizations.
- Roadmapping becomes a platform that allows participants to share their experience and knowledge, contributing to the development of a medium-term stragegy.
- RNLI gains an in-depth understanding of emerging technologies through the collaboration with IfM that provides a roadmap timeline. RNLI is now able to better identify challenges and explore opportunities regarding rescue operations at sea.
Roadmaps Help Establish a Framework Within an Industry
Individual companies in an industry usually have different visions and R&D activities. This could become a significant problem faced by the industry when making the best technology option for future investment. The lack of consensus among companies is one of the key obstacles that prevent companies from working toward the same goal, resulting in resource waste and low efficiency.
The use of technology roadmap with an established framework allows companies to not only gain a deeper understanding of the current industrial infrastructure, but also to build new partnerships with different stakeholders including professional institutions and the government.
Alternatively, the technology roadmap acts as a platform for companies to have an overall image of industry performance and to better coordinate R&D collaborations between participants.
- Road-mapping techniques provide guidelines that help organizations in building a virtual platform, which allows stakeholders to interact and evaluate creative approaches.
- Subsea 7 had successfully established a SharpCloud platform through the use of IfM road-mapping techniques.
- Roadmapping played an important role in making sure that resources were allocated and utilized efficiently through a valuable framework.
- Routes for technological development and commercialization were clarified.
Roadmaps Promote and Help Manage Cross-Industry Collaboration
In the process of technology transformation, boosting technology innovation can be difficult if solely based on the efforts from individual companies. Meanwhile, companies in an industry may conduct separate R&D activities that share the same objective. Without professional management among companies, it is difficult for an industry to reach its optimal level in resource utilization, which is not sustainable and can be detrimental to long-term development.
In this way, a technology roadmap helps assist companies in prioritizing their R&D projects and to avoid unnecessary activities. The joint effort of companies in an industry would be strong enough to drive any transformative changes that requires a huge resource input such as highly-skilled workers, the most-updated findings, and financial support. As well, a technology roadmap shows the support from the government in contributing to better supply-chain arrangements.
- The manufacturing, agriculture, and services sectors are linked and integrated, which help address the supply chain gap and enhance industries participation in global value chains.
- Government acts as a facilitator in a technology roadmap through creating the right policy framework.
- Roadmapping is one of the important fundamentals that support the health and wellbeing of the rail industry.
- The cross-industry roadmap contributes to the budget management of ￡335k as well as the involvement of over 70 organizations.
About the Roadmap Landscape Series
CORE Cleantech Cluster and Foresight are producing a series of roadmap landscapes in the six sectors of CORE’s focus. The intent is to provide a snapshot of the roadmaps that exist in each, and how they are being used.
This will help identify gaps in the required elements, as well as places where roadmaps either don’t exist or are insufficient to achieve the government’s targets.
A more detailed analysis of the cleantech innovation ecosystem is available in the report Accelerating British Columbia’s Clean Economy: A Cleantech Cluster Strategy for the Province of British Columbia.
About the Author
Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre
Carol Wu has joined Foresight this summer as a student intern to help with cluster research and survey design that contributes to environmental sustainability.
She has a bachelor degree in Food, Nutrition and Health, and is currently in the masters program of Food and Resource Economics at UBC.