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Sourcing Technology

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Technology sourcing involves isolating and implementing


new innovations within an existing business framework.
Learning Objective

Illustrate the varying cost structures, licensing, and scouting procedures involved with
technology sourcing

Key Points

o Sourcing new technology involves the scouting and researching of new


technological potential and the eventual transfer of these technologies to a
company.

o Technology scouting is based around identifying new technologies, organizing


and channeling data on these technologies, and assessing the ease and value of
implementing them.

o Companies capitalize on the successful scouting of a new technology by sourcing


it from the appropriate party for their own use.

o Tech transfer drawbacks primarily involve the cost of licensing patents and
training employees to effectively use the new technology.

o Some organizations, such as Sourceforge, Wikipedia, and Boundless, provide


knowledge and technology for free in an open source strategy.

Terms

patent

A legal right to a particular innovation, protecting it from being copied or employed by


another without consent or license.

Sourcing
The supply of resources needed by a particular company or individual.

Scouting

The act of seeking or searching.

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Full Text

Technology Sourcing Strategies


Technology sourcing, or the pursuit of implementing new technologies within a businesses
strategic framework, involves isolating and applying new technologies to current models.
Technology can be developed internally or isolated through technology scouting and then
implemented through technology transfer. In deciding which approach is optimal for them,
organizations must consider such factors as the advantage of being first to market, research and
developments costs and capabilities, and market research and data gathering costs. Therefore the
strategies behind sourcing technology can be complex, varying by industry, company size,
economic strength, and the availability of easily implemented technology.

Technology Scouting
Technology scouting is essentially forecasting technological developments through information
gathering. Technology scouts can either be internal employees or external consultants
specifically designated to the task of researching developments in a particular technological
field. This can be loosely referred to as a three-step process:

1. Identify emerging technologies.

2. Channel and organize new technological data within an organization.

3. Provide a corporate context to support or refute the acquisition of said technology.

When technology scouting isolates new developments that could potentially provide advantages
for an incumbent, strategies to acquire or source this technology become a focal point.
Technology transfer, and the commercialization of technological abilities, is an enormous market
both in the U.S. and abroad. Though governments, universities, and open source websites (such
as Sourceforge, Wikipedia, and Boundless) often provide knowledge and technological know-
how free of charge, most often technology is not free.

Technology Sourcing Pros and Cons


In the Information Age knowledge is power, and more than ever companies are trying to protect
their knowledge from competitors or freeloaders by using patents and trade secrets. Transfer of
technology is therefore expensive, from licensing the patented technology to requesting training
in new technological advances for staff. Despite the distinct advantages of staying ahead of the
curve relative to technological capabilities, there are some drawbacks to tech transfer. One strong
example of the drawbacks in technological transfer and sourcing can be illustrated by the image
below.

Stages in technology development


Technology develops through a series of stages: basic technology research, research to prove
feasibility, technology development, technology demonstration, system/subsystem development,
and system test, launch & operations.

The first five levels of innovation, from basic research to technology demonstration, are often
where investment begins pouring in, alongside the attempt to implement in order to stay
competitive. As you may note, this is prior to the testing phases and therefore investors at this
stage must accept the inherent risk of the new technology presenting significant hurdles to
optimizing perceived potential or effective implementation. Early adopters and innovators suffer
the risk of employing a new technology that has not been fully debugged, minimizing what
should have been strong returns on investment (ROI). Technology scouts should therefore be
highly circumspect and meticulous in their research processes, ensuring that new technological
innovations will indeed provide what they promise.

Technology Sourcing Internal sourcing: Each firms TS finds partial expression in the way it funds,
structures and directs the R&D activities, whose mission is to create new pathways for technology. In-
house R&D also determines the absorptive capacity of the firm. External sourcing: Many technologies
used in the value chain are outside the capabilities of the firm. So, technologies need to be sourced
externally through alliances or licensing. Continuous concern with improvement in all aspects of value
chain could guard the firm against idiosyncratic moves in external sourcing. One requirement is a
continuous concern for gaining as much learning as possible from the relationship in terms of capabilities
and skills rather than being concerned solely with price.