Technology early detection

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Technology early detection ( TF ) is part of strategic innovation and technology management . Its aim is to identify promising technological approaches or trends, to make their development potential clear and to prepare the market launch of new products through suitable measures. In English (and often also in German) early technology detection is also referred to as "Technology Intelligence".


Originally, people looked for clues through analysis and extrapolation of operational key figures from business data. This "early warning", which is more reminiscent of a controlling instrument, was about the early detection of financial difficulties in the company. The resulting "early detection" - which included indicators specifically determined for this purpose - was ultimately an assessment of the situation based on yesterday's (business) data. It was only in the third generation, the "early enlightenment", that strategic, success-oriented and above all future-oriented issues came to the fore. Technology early detection or technology early education can be derived from this as strategies that support the entrepreneur / manager in the selection of relevant technologies, especially in the early phase of the innovation process.


TF enables the technology manager to prepare strategic decisions. Decisions made without this information base are more subjective, more spontaneous and are based on greater imponderables, but can still be correct - albeit with less probability. The observation of individual technology fields, usually carried out as a continuous process, enables the company to:

  • identify early and often weak indications of technologies and technological developments,
  • To gain ideas for new products and services ,
  • utilize new technological solutions in ongoing projects,
  • Provide information for the assessment,
  • identify external suppliers who should be involved,
  • expand existing core competencies,
  • to create new competencies and thereby new market access.

Decisive for the success of the TF are

  • good and reliable sources of information inside and outside the company,
  • the selection and assessment criteria used for new technologies ,
  • reliable, continuous communication of the results of the TF in the company.

Selection and assessment criteria preferred in companies are based on the (future) market environment ; they are usually relatively short-term and product-related. The larger the company and the greater the openness to questions and planning beyond a period of five years, the more the criteria are similar to those of the TF in the public or cross-industry sector. Aspects such as sustainability , social change and general opportunities and risks of new technologies play a greater role in the TF in the public sector, which is fundamentally more comprehensive and long-term oriented, than in the company. The technology manager has to restrict himself to a narrower set of criteria in order to make the process feasible in terms of both financial and time. Nevertheless, it is helpful to collect all conceivable criteria at an early stage of the process and compare them with one another in order to ultimately focus on the most important for the current situation through a conscious ranking. Early technology detection makes sense above all if it is understood as an iterative learning process. This means that the TF process is not even carried out and its results would then last for some time. Only continuous continuation ensures that weak signals from emerging technologies are recognized at an early stage which, if ignored, could have negative consequences for a product, a production process , a product line or, under certain circumstances, the entire company. Conceived as a continuous process, there is the possibility of continuously optimizing the search areas, evaluation grids, source selection and implementation of the results. In operational practice, it has proven to be helpful to carry out the TF process in three sub-steps. In the first step, relevant technology options are identified, in the second they are assessed on the basis of an evaluation grid; in the third, the selected technology options are prepared for integration into the operational process. In this sub-step, the targeted communication of the results in the company also plays an important role.


Technology early detection with Technology Radar

Companies often use technology forecasting to prioritize R&D activities, plan new product developments, and make strategic decisions about licensing technology and establishing joint ventures. One of the tools that enable a company to forecast technology is a technology radar. A technology radar is used to identify technologies, trends and shocks at an early stage and to draw attention to the dangers and opportunities of technological development and to promote innovations.

Technology radars have been used successfully by companies such as Cisco Systems , Deutsche Telekom and Zalando to identify, select, evaluate and disseminate company-wide technology information. These technology radars follow a specific radar procedure that is itself of significant value to a business:

  • Identification: Employees who work as technology scouts from around the world submit new technologies to the platform.
  • Selection: Based on the technology, its potential impact and novelty, a radar team will review the technologies submitted and select the most valid.
  • Assessment: The selected technologies are then assessed based on the market opportunity and implementation risk.
  • Dissemination: The radar shows the technologies evaluated according to their degree of maturity, their position in the value chain and their relevance.



See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ayse Kaya Firat, Wei Lee Woon, Stuart E. Madnick: Technology Forecasting - A Review . In: Composite Information Systems Laboratory . 2012, p. 1–19 ( [PDF; accessed March 16, 2020]).
  2. ^ Rene Rohrbeck, J. Heuer, Heinrich M. Arnold: The Technology Radar - an Instrument of Technology Intelligence and Innovation Strategy . In: The 3rd IEEE International Conference on Management of Innovation and Technology . 2006, p. 978-983 , doi : 10.1109 / ICMIT.2006.262368 .
  3. Siri Boe-Lillegraven, Stephan Monterde: Exploring the cognitive value of technology foresight: The case of the Cisco Technology Radar . In: Technological Forecasting and Social Change . 2015, p. 62–82 , doi : 10.1016 / j.techfore.2014.07.014 .