Many of the technology roadmaps that have been published have been developed for national/regional governments or industry sector groups. These broad studies engage a large number of experts and draw conclusions that are useful for the economy as a whole. If you’re in a business, no matter how large, these types of exercises are usually beyond your resources. Furthermore, they are not directly connected to your own company’s business strategy and they don’t give the level of implementation detail required to commit funds or resources.
What’s required is an approach to roadmapping that is solidly grounded in the needs of the business, blends internal and external expert opinion, extends this with quantitative citation and patent analysis, builds scenarios that are commercially relevant, and describes choices and investment plans that help senior executives make confident decisions.
Outline of approach to roadmapping
The essence of technology roadmapping is quite simple. Identify the scope of technology to roadmap, create the roadmap, apply the roadmap data to future commercial scenarios, and then make your investment choices. You’ll see a lot written about multiple-layered roadmaps linking to market trends, product pipelines etc. but the core of what you need to do is build a view of the future based on expert opinion and quantitative data, then apply it to your business context. It is this application that is often missing, leading to lack of commitment to implementation across the organization.
It’s important to leverage external expertise in building a roadmap – we usually work with a dozen or so external subject matter experts. Assembling an external expert panel to support the development of the roadmap is valuable in at least two ways: you will gain access to a wider set of insights or solutions, thus creating new possibilities; you will also create a technology asset in terms of new partners for the future.
When delivered well, the roadmapping process moves beyond just being a decision support tool. It becomes an integral part of unleashing creative insights and providing the basis for developing new and valuable intellectual property (IP). It helps answer the question ‘what might be possible?’