Q.: Define technological innovation with example.
A.: The definition of technological innovation can be tackled from two directions acknowledging different aspects of the phenomenon. The broader meaning of the word is an introduction of a technologically novel change into the business process (Schramm, 2017). For instance, the launch of an assembly line to make cars by Henry Ford can be considered an innovation. However, a more specific definition of the matter is the continuous process of converting ideas into unique commercially successful products, means, or services (Schramm, 2017). Instead of thinking of innovation as a one-time event, the second definition describes it as a gradual development in technology that is transformed into profit. For example, modern car industries renew their product lines with new models or their variations with updated functions. This tendency can be viewed as a process of technological innovation.
Q.: Why is it important to firms?
A.: Technological innovation is vital for firms to stay competitive on the market. The goal of any business is to spend as less as possible to gain as more as possible. Introduction of modern technology can let an industry to waste less money on ineffective, outdated processes. Moreover, modernization can lead a business to expand to new markets and providing services for people who could not otherwise benefit from them. According to Schramm (2017), industries that innovate tend to grow more rapidly and prosper at the expense of their less able competitors. In short, technological innovation is a crucial feature of a competitive business.
Q.: What are the types of innovation? Provide example of each type.
A.: There are four types or degrees of technological innovation described by Schramm (2017):
- Incremental innovation is the most common type of modernization, which uses a model that can be easily developed and implemented in a short time period. It is only a modest improvement that can be self-funded and rarely involves risks. An example of such innovation is an introduction of an online chat with consultants on an e-commerce website.
- Adjacent innovation is “commercialization of a product, process, or a service that is already being sold in one market into a new market” (Schramm, 2017, p. 25). It is mostly used for the markets that are in close proximity to each other and can also be easily developed and implemented. The expansion of eBay from the US to Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan can serve a vivid example of such innovation.
- Evolutionary innovation is an impactful technological innovation that creates a new product, which competes with the existing ones but does not disrupt markets or market niches. These changes usually take five or more years and may need some outside funding. An introduction of hybrid cars is an example of this type of innovation.
- Disruptive (radical) innovation is a technological innovation that displaces other commercial products and drastically changes a market niche or even the whole market. This kind of modernization is the riskiest and the most time-consuming. An example is an electric typewriter, which made a manual typewriter obsolete.
Q.: Why do firms in high technology industries need to develop technology strategies?
A.: Every business in the modern world depends upon technology and its development. A technology strategy (TS) is a long-term plan, which maps the current technology base and future acquisitions in the sphere to increase profits. While most businesses develop their TS according to the corporate strategy, high-tech industries base their future goals on the TS, as it dramatically affects a company’s competitive performance (Pelser & Prinsloo, 2014). First, a well-established TS helps to eliminate shortcomings and pitfalls of a company’s present state. Second, such plans allow industries to balance their budget according to the utilized strategy and avoid wasting money. Third, a TS focuses on the future and rationally assesses the needs of a company supporting a gradual progression towards a set goal. In short, a thoughtful TS is a foundation of a thriving high technology industry.
Q.: Identify one recent innovation. Explain how the innovations used knowledge to apply tools, materials, processes, and techniques to come up with new solutions to problems.
A.: The last three years were filled with technological innovations of different degrees, among which one of the most profitable was the invention of chatbots. According to Forbes Technology Council (2018), this innovation is prominent to organize a business in terms of tech support. It is inefficient for small companies to have online consultants ready 24 hours a day, as during the night there is not enough workload.
Moreover, while it is important to reply to all the messages, customers often do not need their problem to be solved right away; however, all the issues should be registered. Developers realized the challenge and created a solution using various programming languages. The innovation did not need any special materials; however, a new algorithm was developed to create new software, which is considered an IT tool. The innovation can be implemented with ease, as even an untrained person with elementary computer skills can add a chatbot to his or her website. The invention is an interactive and entertaining way for a customer to receive an answer to a question or report a problem. At the same time, it is a cheap way for a company to provide a unique customer experience and help tech support.
Q.: In 1975 Saturday, Night Live did a parody on razor blades. The commercial came out shortly after the first two-bladed razor was introduced. In the parody, a new Triple Trac Razor – a razor with three blades because the consumer is gullible enough to believe what he sees on TV commercials – was introduced. In reality, the first three-blade razor was introduced in the 1990s. Currently, razors are selling with as many as five blades. Take a look at the industry and try to assess how much of the improvement is true innovation.
A.: While the introduction of razors with multiple blades may be treated as a joke by professionals, there is some rationale in having more than one blade. There is no official research on the matter; therefore, it would be beneficial to rely on the opinions of professionals. According to Nasr (n.d.), the only thing that matters while shaving to get one’s skin smooth is cutting the hair under the skin level. Multiple blades do not directly help with the matter and can harm a person using it. Dermatologists claim that more blades lead to more friction, and that means more irritation (Nasr, n.d.). In short, five-bladed razors are a result of hysteria and the ambitions of industries to make more profit.
While more blades do not directly lead to more comfort, it still crucial to recognize the positive impacts of the innovation. The key to better shaving experience is cutting hair below skin level. The two-bladed structure of a razor can help with the matter, as the first blade pushes the skin down and the second one cuts the hair on a deeper level. Even though manufacturers claim that four or five razors can double the effect is not scientifically justified (Nasr, n.d.).
Moreover, such razors become more sizeable because of the number of razors, making it hard to maneuver and shave in hard-to-reach places. The increased size leads to nicks and shaving burns due to multiple attempts to approach the problem areas. Therefore, dermatologists do not recommend using razors with more than two blades (Nasr, n.d.). In conclusion, adding more than two blades is not an innovation, as it brings more discomfort and can be dangerous for the users.
Forbes Technology Council. (2018). The best tech innovations of the last three years. Forbes. Web.
Nasr, S. (n.d.). Does it matter how many blades are on your razor? Web.
Pelser, T., & Prinsloo, J. (2014). Technology management and the link with technology strategy and company performance. Journal of Global Business and Technology, 10(2), 1-12.
Schramm, L. (2017). Technological innovation: An introduction. Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter GmbH.