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Technology Management: To What Extent Is Collaboration in Networks A Requirement of Today’s Innovation Process?

Introduction

Generally speaking, technology is the knowledge about using tools to create useful products which unfortunately in the public domain is not protected by an intellectual property right. Innovation, on the other hand, is the utilisation of technology to provide the best of customer solutions in the form of product or service.

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Technology has utilised innovation but only in a single dimension where innovation has been limited to high-tech products and industries. Such limitation has escorted the organisations to compete in a dimension for which the businesses today are least concerned with other associated issues like rights which most often remain unprotected and with the collaboration of knowledge oriented networks, no organisation feels the need to put limits to their networks.

In this manner every business on its part is playing a role in imitating innovation. That does not indicate that rapidly transformed technological trends need not to be practiced or that outcomes need not to be expected but it should not be overestimated. Overestimation includes technological dependence, over dependence on network collaboration, relying on communication channels to the extent of addiction where a business feels being in an uncertain environment.

Best Management Practices

Contemporary innovation process of new product development in context with the best management practices applies most probably to the service sector. The service sector includes management personnels and professionals to look after the major issues that entails the human dimension of managing technological innovation. With the human interference in technology management comes various factors that runs today’s organisational settings.

This has proved motivation to be among one of the primary factors that until now has lead the human dimension towards effective knowledge sharing and decision making processes that without the concept of innovation could not have been possible. This is so because innovation has led the workforce to work with utmost motivation in a ‘machine’ environment. Here the term ‘machine’ has been used to rectify the actual requirements of technology on which today’s innovation process is based upon.

It is through the miracles of such ‘machine based technology’ that even in high-pressure and stressful situations professionals are not afraid to share their innovation at the risk of technological dependent innovative processes (Katz 1997, p. 4). But the critical aspect is that innovation has remained applicable under this machine epoch only to large industries.

It is due to the networked environment that modern day organic technical configuration requires project teams to deal with technology instead of functional departments where open communications are required and structured by occurrence of cross-functional teams deployed in hierarchies to communicate more effectively (Tidd & Hull 2003, p. 27).

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The multi-networking capabilities works far better than what a standalone system can do, it enables businesses to work in teams, sharing knowledge on a multipurpose platform and focusing on being innovative. This indicates things have made easier for us and the credit no doubt goes to technology management that has increased our productivity than what it did two decades ago. Technology has created innovation which lures small as well as large businesses to work along.

Knowledge sharing in this perspective has become a necessary tool that has transform complexities into smaller tasks. This is because open communication channels work in collaboration with web-based technologies that not only have drafted our transactions in the form of business taking challenges that once took days or months to conclude, it now solves the problems with the help of knowledge sharing systems. This is how knowledge management (KM) has become part of our innovative businesses.

A simple example is that of communication that takes place between business to business (B2B) transactions. A logistics provider in an yearly contract with an FMCG company requires extensive data interchange. Therefore, to speed up the process, the logistic provider make its internal network server available on-line and allow the clients (FMCG) to access their accounts and process information efficiently and readily. With effective KM systems even complex tasks have been simple to the extent that businesses now require innovation and something ‘new’ in their products and services. Such innovation has increased competition in the market where every company wants to perform better than the competitor.

When a company wants to give its local network resources access to its employees to be accessed from any part of the world, then the company collaborates with an Internet service provider to setup a virtual private network. This is how tasks goes on in innovative technological businesses. Such networks are no doubt the digital nervous system of innovation that utilizes technology to support goals and objectives by providing the physical link for every company business.

The innovative value of technology comes from the capabilities it provides to improve company performance, reaching new markets, and seize business opportunities through productivity gains and customer satisfaction.

This is achieved through faster access to vital information and improved company responsiveness only possible through shared knowledge virtue for which technology can uniquely position a company in its market by supplying information for past-paced change or innovative strategic moves (Crane & Mayer 2003, p. 30). Shared KM through information technology is the platform on which the business depends. However, technology delivers strategic value when it speeds up operational efficiency and allows customers to easily access company information through web-based resources.

The miracles of strategic technology is not limited to provide vendors, customers and service providers with secure access to company products, services, and other resources bypassing gatekeepers. It replaces slow manual processes with that of rapid ones which indicates the extent to which collaboration in networking is essential in today’s fast-paced business environment. But the fast-paced business aims at the cost of hiring and firing staff since technologically driven companies deploy exclusive staff to respond to fully automated inquiries and orders.

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Today, companies rely more on their technology than their employees and once technology betrays in the form of system crash, system failure or hacking, businesses found themselves nowhere. The limitations of technology driven environment are more severe and riskier. For example, supply chain technology that allows for up-to-the-minute information after identifying the minimum product inventory levels meet customer demands.

In this case vendors and service providers often access a company’s network as well making the technology infrastructure even more critical or strategic. Adding Internet capability with on-line transactions to protect information expands staff, supplier and customer access to sales and service from anywhere in the world. The other side of this supply chain reveals those risks that vendors do not consider like security issues that are high cost, seeking confidentiality while making transactions and so on. This expansion has risen along with the Internet scope for service innovation. From ATMs to web-based innovation, technologies have been experienced as a source of competitive edge that develops strong market positioning while offering better services fulfilling the criteria of being better, cheaper and quality oriented (Tidd et al 1997, p. 6).

Uncertainty, Innovation and Diffusion

Giant industries possess the great advantage of being able to spread the very high development costs in some kinds of innovations and the associated technical services over a very large sales volume. But what about the high degree of precariousness that is a significant part and parcel of technical innovation since centuries and is still present in large and small businesses? The problems for the business in coping with this high degree of uncertainty in managing innovation leads to experimental decision-making capabilities which only a large organisation can afford.

Such a high-tech innovation process is not compatible with theories of the firm which postulate a high degree of accuracy in investment calculations or extensive foreknowledge of the consequences of the firm’s behavior (Freeman & Soete 1997, p. 23). Uncertainty is an obvious factor associated with innovation but the point is that such process elaborates differences of opinion about the desirability of alternative projects and strategies as a norm rather than the exception.

The research and development (R&D) department is always in a quest to develop new and marketable products and services to reach technologies underlying their revenue drivers and to provide their company with the internal resources necessary to compete in the marketplace. Innovation in this context fuels the R&D department to absorb all the technology developed elsewhere. That indicates that with effective knowledge sharing mechanism a product developed by one business can be easily imitated or swapped by another.

Moreover, the innovative prototype absorbs external knowledge to enhance a firm’s knowledge base rather than to develop a concrete product (Carayannis & Campbell 2006, p. 101). It is of course one of the many ‘risks’ a networked innovation process holds and can be seen in a large number of innovative activities conducted through networked product divisions. In economic terms, the flow of knowledge that leads to external technology spillover can take on a pessimistic form in which the negative conception of technology spillover implies one company benefiting from another’s innovative efforts without carrying the costs or even giving credit to another.

Innovation in context with Knowledge Management

An integrated business environment within a knowledge management (KM) spectrum provisions for a supportive collaborative computing that supports work-flow communication. That is a common approach in contemporary innovative trends where there is no peculiarity about it. However, the extent to which decision makers can obtain information and knowledge from anywhere deploying any approach is not limited and has no regard for their sources and types. Within such a collaborative environment, there is no guaranteed capability for decision makers to pull information and knowledge from data warehouses that they require to push.

An integrated environment despite a networked infrastructure is often unable to interpret important elements that include textual analysis, streaming and multimedia. An integrated KM environment though raises the significance of managing data communications and networking but does not take into consideration the means to tackle the complexity of tools, employees and processes that are needed to build, operate, and monitor these networks. It does not emphasise on the ways an organisation perceives the design, implementation, and functioning of data communications and networks that can easily make or break through the loopholes of its network services.

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The credibility of unknown sources

The basic challenge that a business confronts while utilising shared KM system besides technical flaws is that it is not concerned about the credibility of sources. It does not bother about from where the document came or how it was authored, rather it centers more on what is in it, who needs it, and how to get it there (Thierauf 1999, p. 106). Despite the credibility of sources, technology professionals emphasises on developing the best way to share the appropriate knowledge that in their view is none other than to create a networking environment conducive to knowledge sharing.

Networking environment works better with the modern strategy where knowledge sharing is easy and convenient for even the newcomer staff while traditional strategy and management models when collaborate with KM in context with product market attractiveness requires appropriate positioning of companies along with the recent changes in the market by the technological, political, and sociological environments of business. This transformation force strategists to draw more attention to the ‘internal’ view of business organisations due to which the external business environment is often ignored and pave way to the competitors.

The recent adoption of KM route has demonstrated some consequences, for it has increased the demand for innovation by integrating capabilities in the company to perform much better than what is expected. This sky-high expectancy has caused the top managers to concern about the pressure for increasing sophistication and specialisation of the company’s knowledge. Technology is not outdated to the limitation of the invention of a product that obsoletes all existing products such as regularly occurs in the electronics industry.

With knowledge sharing It can include the advent of low-cost manufacturing processes or even innovative low-cost distribution which could destroy a competitor. Innovations to an investor matters as long as technology introduces either by the business under study or a competitor obsoletes existing products or services. In the presence of such threats business cannot respond according to the expectations.

The knowledge-intensive networked organisations make the most of innovative information systems to share and receive better ideas about affiliates, suppliers, customers and related organisations and even competitors to whom they often tend to exploit. As Gertler & Wolfe (2002, p. 162) mentions that such networks provide a powerful propellant for innovation as each organisation in the network confronts a unique opportunity of economic incentive to improve their position.

But since they are more dependent upon the information stored in the network, they do feel to innovate technology but are never focused to innovate information based on their sources. This way they make progress artificially through utilising technological knowledge and as each organisation advances, their network as a whole accumulates greater innovative capability to prove themselves as a more valuable member of the network. Therefore, in this scenario their network becomes a powerful arena for them to share information, not innovate it.

High expectations from performance outcomes

The new rise of knowledge-intensive capitalism has given significance to a pattern of continuous or perpetual innovation in an economy in which value is created through a process that entails accelerating technological innovation (Gertler & Wolfe 2002, p. 163). Such acceleration seems effective in the boost of organisation’s success as it increasingly severe competition in many market segments but at the cost of delivering expected performance outcomes which often puts innovators at stake.

First it only considers short term innovation as an increasingly crucial source of value and competitive advantage. Secondly, many innovative inventions in the race of competition are exploited and are benefited not by the innovators but by the competitors who after shaping the innovation, claims to be their product to gain credit. This scenario in the new age of capitalism is powered by the most accelerated pace of innovation and invention to blame technological revolution for accelerating with the advent of bioengineering which enable ever more accelerated cycles of innovation.

Innovative economic success is tied to an organisation’s ability to constantly improve products and processes and to rapidly deploy new products and technologies which is not easy. To maintain its long-run sustainable advantage, an organisation must deploy long term goals which many contemporary knowledge intensive businesses lack. Moreover, networked collaborated organisations are expected to turn innovations into high-quality products that the world’s consumers want to buy.

This is the most critical dimension of economic performance that escort the innovative technology towards nothing if it remains unable to turn into high-quality manufactured products. However, the ability to turn innovations into products is what is demanded in this epoch where the key to long-run sustainable advantage is through the passage of overcoming the ‘breakthrough illusion’, that is the myth that new technology alone offers a source of competitive advantage.

From Innovation to Breakthrough Illusion

This term ‘breakthrough illusion’ serves as a major reason for the drooping competitiveness of European companies due to which many businesses have fallen victim to this terminology. It has taken many venture capitalists and high-technology start-up companies to produce wave after wave of innovations but it is difficult to turn these innovations into successful generations of products. Seeking a short term profit, the businesses often ignore the cultural aspects of innovation which also hold a significant role in innovative success.

Cultural aspects of a knowledge community are significant to any innovation process because there exists a fine line between wanting openness to new ideas and new potential members yet enough closeness to feel secure to engage in trial-and-error learning. Since business executives focus on short term profit sharing, they often don’t allow the ‘trial and-error’ perspective to their employees for which they seize to innovate in the longer run.

Knowledge based communities takes on their own distinctive culture which is inclusive of the norms, behaviors, and practices of the community members. An illustration is that of an organisation in which multicultural employees share the norms of confidentiality, learning from each other (benchmarking), learning by their experiences or we can say by their failures as well, truthful and thoughtful feedback or consultancies and by deploying the trust factor (Conceicaao et al 2000, p. 39).

Conclusion

If networks have been that much essential to contemporary business operations, the concern is to why major organisational restructuring often feel the need to communicate through large-scale gatherings where top management addresses employees through face-to-face contact instead of relying on any electronic medium like electronic mail, on-line chatting etc? The need for networks still enforce many corporations to spend substantial amounts of money on flying in managers from foreign subsidiaries to advice and convey them in personal meetings with top management decisions that they could easily be told through networked collaborations.

Moreover in the presence of such sophisticated infrastructures based on technological innovations why there is a need to verbally communicate when in many situations communications over on-line presence would appear to be appropriate substitutes?

Knowledge economy suggests that existing approaches to the economics of organisation, such as transaction and technological management are though able to produce innovative mechanisms of modern day needs but are not capable of providing an adequate explanation of economic organisation in the knowledge economy. Foss (2005, p. 122) illustrates this under the light of those businesses that over time are increasingly making collaborations with their suppliers even to the extent where they are reduced to vertically integrate with those suppliers.

This fact is highly incompatible with the classical theories of the firm which elucidates that integration with the supplier is necessary to avoid all the possibilities for delays created when investments are made on temporary basis. However, from this we cannot expect that organisational economics in a knowledge based economy can survive without transformation. On the contrary, knowledge economy still demands much work and effort to understand the significance of those limits that we ought to put in innovative technologies. What KM and innovation requires from us is not to overestimate the expected outcomes that the performance tendencies are typically associated with and its diverse aliases have had on business administration.

References

Carayannis G. Elias & Campbell J. F. David, 2006. Knowledge Creation, Diffusion, and Use in Innovation Networks and Knowledge Clusters: A Comparative Systems Approach across the United States, Europe, and Asia: Praeger: Westport, CT.

Conceicaao Pedro, Gibson V. David, Heitor V. Manuel & Shariq Syed, 2000. Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy: Opportunities and Challenges for the Knowledge Economy: Quorum Books: Westport, CT.

Crane Darlene Barrientos & Mayer Margery, 2003. Executive Accountability: Creating the Environment for Business Value from Technology: Praeger: Westport, CT.

Foss J. Nicolai, 2005. Strategy, Economic Organization, and the Knowledge Economy: The Coordination of Firms and Resources: Oxford University Press: Oxford, England.

Freeman Chris & Soete Luc, 1997. The Economics of Industrial Innovation 3rd ed., Continuum, London.

Gertler S. Meric & Wolfe A. David, 2002. Innovation and Social Learning: Institutional Adaptation in an Era of Technological Change: Palgrave Macmillan: London.

Katz, R. 1997. The Human Side of Managing Technological Innovation: A collection of readings, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Thierauf J. Robert, 1999. Knowledge Management Systems for Business: Quorum Books: Westport, CT.

Tidd Joseph & Hull M. Frank. 2003. Service Innovation: Organizational responses to technological opportunities and market imperatives, Imperial College Press, London.

Tidd Joe, Bessant John & Pavitt Keith, 1997. Managing Innovation: Integrating technological, market and organizational change, Wiley, Chichester: Third edition.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 7). Technology Management: To What Extent Is Collaboration in Networks A Requirement of Today’s Innovation Process? https://studycorgi.com/technology-management-to-what-extent-is-collaboration-in-networks-a-requirement-of-todays-innovation-process/

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"Technology Management: To What Extent Is Collaboration in Networks A Requirement of Today’s Innovation Process?" StudyCorgi, 7 Nov. 2021, studycorgi.com/technology-management-to-what-extent-is-collaboration-in-networks-a-requirement-of-todays-innovation-process/.

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StudyCorgi. "Technology Management: To What Extent Is Collaboration in Networks A Requirement of Today’s Innovation Process?" November 7, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/technology-management-to-what-extent-is-collaboration-in-networks-a-requirement-of-todays-innovation-process/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Technology Management: To What Extent Is Collaboration in Networks A Requirement of Today’s Innovation Process?" November 7, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/technology-management-to-what-extent-is-collaboration-in-networks-a-requirement-of-todays-innovation-process/.

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