Community Forum - Presenting a Technology Roadmap to Customers

How do you present your company's roadmap to customers?

Our organization has a robust technology roadmap process and we are exploring various ways to make the data understandable and relevant to a broad customer set.  How has your organization overcome this challenge?  In addition, do you have recommendations for how your organization has engaged customers directly in roadmap plans and updates?  

 -   Engineering Director, Large Manufacturing Company

 

Community Responses

Large Chemical Company

We have a detailed engagement and road mapping or 'technology blueprint' process that produces long term 'needs' from our customers. This involves a three year rolling technology needs workshop with our business partners to understand their business direction and the technology needs to be overcome in order to help them deliver on their ambitions and ensure we are feeding the R&D pipeline to meet those needs.

These start at individual partner levels and get aggregated up to identify the most impactful needs especially across common or synergistic customers. Adding in estimated size of prize and using this to prioritize helps us maintain focus throughout the R&D development cycle. These outputs then drive functional 'swim lanes' of the technologies we are working on or should work on aligned with the timelines to intersect the customer need by dates.  

            

Stephen Johnson, Timken

This is a great question and one many of us wrestle with.  We use two primary documents to convey our roadmaps under each technology platform that we administer.  The first is a polar chart where the vectors are broad technologies of interest and then the developments close to the center are current activities and as you move out the activities become more futuristic.  The second document is a quasi Gantt chart that shows projects grouped by time horizon (H1, H2, H3) on the vertical axis with time on the horizontal axis.  We usually go out 3-5 yrs.  Each project has the projected start and finish date as well as milestones.  We also show relationships between projects where connectivity exists.  These tend to get busy but they are a good one stop snapshot for current and planned activities.

 

Bill Miller, IRI Emeritus

When I was VP and Director of Research and Business Development at Steelcase (and acting Chief Innovation Officer) in the 1990's, we applied the principles and practices of the fourth generation (4G) of innovation management to implement two separate communication and supply channels for customers. For example, there were two separate showrooms with exhibits at the major trade show for the office furniture industry, NEOCON in the Chicago Merchandise Mart. One showroom with exhibits clearly identified with signage showed products currently available from Business Units in Operations (COO) for sale and shipment. Another showroom with exhibits also clearly identified showed a road map and prototype "products" developed by Research (Chief Innovation Officer) available for testing (but not for sale) by customers at their facilities in controlled experiments. The sales force was formally trained to talk to customers about the two types of offerings - products for sale and "prototypes" for testing as part of the road map. The reason for the 4G testing was to determine how well the "prototypes" met unmet needs that in most cases were not perceived by customers and wouldn't have been revealed by traditional market research methods such as interviews or even focus groups. The results of the experiments were fed back to Research in an iterative process of innovation that could then modify the prototypes and make them available for additional testing.  As part of the launch of 4G, when the $100 million new Steelcase Pyramid (the center for Research and Product Development) was opened in 1989, a major exhibit called the Future of the Office was developed for the opening and displayed for about 6 months for customers to show a road map with prototypes that were not yet available for testing but eventually were.