Must we manage technologies instead of products?

Combined serial (up to 80km/h) and parallel (o...
Combined Serial and Parallel Hybrid Engine. Image via Wikipedia

Many people do not understand the differences between product maturity and technology maturity; however, for a technology professional it is obvious that many products are created from mature technologies.

Inside an enterprise, this situation happens for several reasons. Senior managers are usually focused on financial results, and they are very interested in sales volumes. As a company is selling products, all its available indicators on a balance scorecard come from product lines. Then it is easy to visualize the product cycle but, probably, senior managers do not receive information about the technology cycle.

If we think about the success of Jobs as CEO of Apple, there are many people that suggest that it was related to his visionary technological focus. Apple is a good example if we want to analyze a correct strategic approach linking the evolution of markets with the evolution of technologies.

If we want to answer the initial question, the proper answer is no. In fact, we must manage technologies and products simultaneously. Focusing on technologies could make us to forget that innovation must provide solution to the markets, and focusing on products could make us to lose a vision of the future of the company.

A typical error could be to separate this responsibility. As products and technologies are physically inseparable there must be some link between products and technologies at management level. Organizing the company in this way can produce a less complex and more efficient enterprise.

To determine the maturity of a technology is not always easy, and it is important to assess it in order that we can make decisions about its substitution by another one with more potential. This is a difficult task of the innovation manager because a new technology can coexist with an old one for a long time.


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