Pan Pacific Symposium Conference Proceedings

Roadmapping Risks and Returns

Authors: Herbert J. Neuhaus, Ph.D. and Charles E. Bauer, Ph.D.
Company: TechLead Corporation
Date Published: 2/14/2012   Conference: Pan Pacific Symposium

Abstract: At both the individual corporate and industry levels, technology roadmapping helps develop consensus around needs and the technologies required to satisfy those needs; and provides a framework for planning and coordinating technology developments. This invaluable strategic planning tool enables better technology investment decisions by identifying critical technologies and/or technology gaps creating barriers to product performance targets and by identifying ways to leverage R&D investments through coordinated research activities either within a single company or among alliance members.

However, as with any powerful tool, the potential for misuse leads to abundant dangers and can render a technology roadmap useless, or worse. Risks exist at all stages of roadmapping. Early in the process, expert opinions and market data form the foundation of the roadmap. Clearly, bias on the part of experts and/or inaccurate input data weakens this foundation. Another risk lies in focusing on the technology roadmap as a product, rather than as a process. Viewing the roadmap as a product masks many of the uncertainties associated with forecasting, while the communication about potential scenarios central to the roadmapping process generates the tool’s greatest value. Perhaps the most subtle danger from technology roadmapping lies in the potential to stifle innovation. If creative ideas deviating from the roadmap’s strategic plan never receive resources, the roadmap ultimately quashes progress and roadmap improvement.

This paper analyzes key roadmapping risks with examples and techniques to help planners identify and mitigate each risk.

Key Words: 

Technical Roadmap, Technical Roadmapping, electronics industry

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