by: Issues: May / June 2006. Tags: Strategy. Categories: Strategy.

Roger More is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Richard Ivey School of Business. He is also a management consultant who has specialized in the creation of focused strategic and market-planning processes and leadership for a wide range of technology-intensive companies such as General Electric, Hewlett Packard, Ciba-Geigy. He was previously a professor at Harvard Business School, and Hewlett-Packard Chaired Professor of Marketing and Technology. Professor More is a co-author of Winning Market Leadership (Wiley, 2000) and the author of the recently released Transforming New Technologies Into Cash Flow (Haworth Press, 2006).

What management problems does your book address?

The major management problem addressed is the successful choice, bundling and transformation of new technologies into great new product and marketing strategies. This is a problem for technology-intensive companies and managers, and is exemplified by the enormous cash flows being spent by many companies on the development and adoption of the new technologies that they must manage in their pursuit of new products. No area of strategic and financial commitments comes close to what will be spent in the future on new technologies. Critical to this is managers’ and companies’ capacity to focus on the right technologies, and to bundle and transform these new technologies into new products which can generate real net cash flow. This is a major problem for managers — the problem of integrating new technology choices with the other critical strategic and marketing choices to drive success in the marketplace. For many companies, the problem applies to both developed and adopted new technologies.

The failure rate for new technology-based new products is escalating globally and for many companies, the potential losses in cash flow terms can be enormous.  The major problem is that many companies and managers simply don’t have powerful concepts and tools to manage the challenge.  All too frequently, critical technology choices are made by technical managers and staff without regard for the impact these choices can have on the success of new product and marketing strategies.  The book addresses this major problem.

Just how important are these problems?

In financial investment and cash flow terms they are of staggering importance. We can talk about many companies like Nortel, who have gotten into serious problems because they can’t do this transformation successfully. There are numerous other examples. At the level of the individual company, they are critical because companies can have effective managers in marketing, and other critical areas like manufacturing, research and development, and supply chain management. But if they choose and bundle the technologies that can’t be integrated effectively with these other strategies, they can lose an incredible amount of money. These problems are not only important today, but they’re going to become much more important in the future.

Can you tell me a how you did your research for the book?

The research approach for this book is conceptual management process research, a broad grounded case-based experiential research approach that is gaining much greater management credibility. This process is replacing the traditional, narrow, academic-empirical, quantitative data-based, literature-based mathematical research, which has been of very little benefit to managers faced with these types of real-world problems, which can easily involve hundreds of interacting strategic factors. Conceptual management process research focuses on helping managers with the real world decision processes, questions, and numerous unique factors that they face in competitive situations .The majority of managers don’t find most academic research “findings” relevant or useful. They want process maps and tools they can apply with other managers when faced with their complex competitive realities. I have been privileged for over 30 years to have worked with senior managers of many Fortune 500 companies around the world. I have struggled with them, trying to manage critical strategic choices in specific new-technology and product situations, in helping them try to choose and bundle the right technologies and integrate and transform them into high-cash-flow, new-product and marketing strategies. In going through this process I have developed and tested an evolving set of new process concepts, maps, and tools that can help managers. I found I could transform these new process concepts into a Management Toolkit, simple and powerful generic maps and worksheets that managers can apply in teams to try and plan and integrate their new technology choices with new product and marketing strategies.

What type of managers should read this book?

The book can be useful for any managers that are involved with technology- intensive companies, working with new technologies and products. It’s also useful for corporate managers, CEO’s, senior vice-presidents, all the way to functional managers in other areas like manufacturing, marketing, new-product development, research and development, and business development. It’s really for anyone affected and involved in the choice, adaptation and bundling of new technologies into new products and marketing strategies. Also, though they are not a major focus of this book, managers in the public sector who are involved with the funding of innovation and new technologies and are concerned about the “commercialization” of new technologies can apply the tools and concepts in the book.

What approach does the book take to help managers do it right?

First of all, the book is based on management process, on trying to help managers with the real process they have to go through to choose technologies, bundle them and transform them into great new products and marketing strategies. The book re-conceptualizes market focus; it’s not just the customer segments and new product functionality you must plan market focus around, but the technologies and the market networks that are integrated with that focus. The book takes a very integrated management process perspective. It is based on the reality that the success of new products is only partly based on the product itself, and is largely contingent on the process managers go through in integrating new technologies with other critical strategic decisions.

I imagine there are lots of other books out there about transforming technologies into cash flow. What sets your book apart from those other books?

If you search thoroughly, you won’t find many books that confront this management problem. There are books on the “management of technology”,” marketing planning”, and “new product development.” But this book isn’t about these problems in isolation, it’s about the integration of physical technology choices with marketing strategy. The fact that the book addresses that makes it very unique. Most books in this area “duck the question” of how to integrate the choices and bundling of physical technologies in planning marketing and new product strategies.

In addition to that, there is a set of new concepts in the book which are unique; the concept of mapping strategic paths; the concept of mapping “hot zones”, the concept of creating synergies and competitive differentiation between technologies bundles, new product bundles, market network bundles, and market segment bundles. There’s  a significant new set of concepts that are built and based on management reality, and that managers can apply.

What are some of those new concepts?

The concept of strategic paths, the concept of transformation processes which, in simple terms, says that you have to map and transform bundles of technology into new product bundles, and that you have to map and transform new product bundles into market segment and market network bundles. It elaborates on the powerful concept of strategic bundles and the concept of integrating those bundles across all of these major marketing strategy decisions. What results is a new concept of looking at market focus and what market focus really means for successful companies.

The other approach that’s unique to the book is that it takes a tough approach to the real measure of success: the creation of long term net cash flow for new technologies and products. One of the problems I see frequently in companies and government is that financial measures for the success of technology and new product “commercialization” are often defined in such nebulous and misleading terms. This book takes a very tough position and says, “If the new technology or product can’t result in a marketing strategy that creates real long-term positive net cash flow, then we should not invest in or proceed with the project.” The book enables managers to directly map and connect market focused strategic paths for new technologies and products to estimates of net cash flow. This is critically important.

What examples do you bring into the book to illustrate your concepts?

There are a significant number of real-world case examples. Two of the major current examples that are explored in detail are fuel cells and synthetic blood , two very different technologies and products to demonstrate that the concepts and tools in this book are entirely generic, that they apply to any new technology and new product situation. In addition to those two major examples, there are a significant number of other examples to demonstrate the problems, concepts and tools introduced in the book, such as semiconductors, medical imaging, and car navigation systems. The management tool kit is described with specific examples, so managers can see how to apply it.

How can managers apply these new concepts and tools that you discuss?

Roger More: If you take a look at most of the books that have been written in this area, what makes this book very  different is that the final chapter is a hands-on Management Toolkit for managers to apply to real situations they face. This Management Toolkit has been tested with many managers in many different cases. It has been modified because of the experiences and comments managers have had and made over many years. Managers can read the book, go immediately to the Toolkit, take a specific new technology they’re facing and apply the exhaustive set of maps and worksheets to explore and evaluate the critical questions relating to their opportunity.

Where do you go from here?

I hope managers will read the book, and share and apply the tools, maps and concepts to their specific new technologies and products. An important vehicle for this process is executive education workshops. We know that the major vehicle that enables managers to evaluate and apply new concepts and tools to their business is not academic articles, but relevant management books and their ability to apply the tools they learn about in executive education and management consulting situations. We want to make an increased effort in executive education to expose some of these tools and to help managers learn how to apply them.