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Technology Forecasting And Strategic Planning

Technology Forecasting And Strategic Planning

Technology Forecasting and Strategic Planning

The objective of this report is to evaluate the risk and benefits of being an information technology leader or follower. The pros and cons of being on the leading (bleeding) edge will be discussed. Corporate strategy on this topic will also be explored and recommendations will be suggested.

In today’s world of business it is becoming more evident that technology and information systems play a much larger role than they did in the past. In order to be a world leader in ones given industry, one must keep up to speed with the evolving world of technology and information systems. Being a technology leader does not come without some growing pains and expense. Lets take a look at some of the top technology leaders and briefly discuss some of their ups and down on the way to the top.

The Technology Leaders: Who Are They?

(Information from: COMPUTERWORLD, INC Online, http://www.computerworld.com/)

The Technology Leaders were selected on the basis of three criteria.

1) First, they compete in technology-intensive industries, (e.g., research and development expense as a percent of sales).

2) Second, they are the most profitable companies in their industries, (e.g., five-year average return on equity and profits per employee).

3) Third, they have a reputation for producing innovative products customers want to buy.

These Technology Leaders are well over twice as profitable as the average company. Sales have grown almost six times faster, and stock prices have grown at a rate over four times that of the average competitor. This is displayed clearly in the figure below.

Although most companies will not experience these kinds of growth, the numbers speak for themselves. All of the previously mentioned companies have taken the risk of being an industry leader in technology and information systems. Microsoft created many of the information systems we use every day. Network and operating systems, such as NT server and Windows 95 are found in a vast number of companies. Internet applications such as Internet Explorer and Front Page allow browsing and WEB page creation. MS Office integrates spreadsheet, database, word processing and presentation manager applications into one user friendly package. Project Management software, Microsoft strikes again, MS Project covers the task very well. Project allows tracking of resources, labor costs, time-lines, and generates reports and Gantt Charts as well.

Microsoft has covered all the primary function areas of business with a wide variety of applications, all of which contribute to not only Microsoft’s success, but also the success of many businesses worldwide. That is why Microsoft is among the top rated technology leaders.

The risk Microsoft took was huge. Spreading the company resources over the gamut of applications described above was asking for trouble. During the development of these products Microsoft was in a very volatile position, if a strong competitor had introduced a better product in any of these areas, it could have proven fatal to the whole project.

There were no serious threats to Microsoft; however, to insure success of these products, Microsoft employed an additional tactic. OEM versions of these applications and operating systems were distributed to all the major computer manufacturers and sold as value added products with computers. This proved to be the single most strategic victory in the history of computing technology. Did the risk pay off for Microsoft? Oh Yeah!

In conclusion, I would like to state that I feel it is a vital part of any company in today’s business world to take a moderate to aggressive stance in the development of their information systems technology. Not only will this improve the company as a whole, but it will help advance the technology as well.

The information age is only beginning, so get on the wagon now or be left behind and wonder what went wrong.


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