Technological developments in the last 4 to 5 decades have been so rapid that they have made visible impact on the life styles of mankind all over the world. The technological changes, have, in fact, been at an exponential rate. The advent of new and emerging technologies have added momentum to the process of change. In the years ahead, technology is going to play a very major role in the industrial and socioeconomic growth of any country. This also would have an important bearing on the corporate performance. Growth and profitability of an organisation will not only depend on resource availability and its optimum utilisation but also on the technological content of its products and services. A survey of 700 companies in the USA has indicated that technological content accounted for 1/ 3rd of their profit in the decade of ’90s as compared to 1/5th in the previous decade. The next decade’ may perhaps take it to 1/2. In other words, changes in technologies cannot be ignored or given a secondary place.
In today’s world, no industry can remain isolated or indifferent to what is happening around. Development in certain areas, particularly in the information and communication technology, have widened the range of operations of a technology developed in one place covering the rest of the world. In view of this, it has become all the more necessary to take advantage of the developments elsewhere. It is abundantly clear that in the years ahead, it is ‘technology’ that will shape our lives and technology will indeed be our only ally.
But to make the optimum use of technology, various types of information relating to technology become a prerequisite. The generation of technologies today is so rapid that a point has been reached where being informed of a particular technology is as important as the technology itself.
WHAT IS TECHNOLOGY INFORMATION?
Technology information in simple terms means information on technology. This brings up two questions. What is “information” and-what is “technology”. While there is no official definition of information, it is referred to as a communication of facts, findings, results, ideas and thoughts. The technology essentially means “knowhow” that is, ways of designing, manufacturing or utilising things, It can also be defined as the know-how to transform concepts into goods and services for the satisfaction of customers. It is a broad form of resource endowment-an embodiment of knowledge for production of goods and services. Technology is imbibed in various forms, the most common of this could be identified in the machines used for manufacture or the skills that are transformed through human beings. These forms would comprise know-how, know-why, technological processes, designs, drawings, specifications, computer programmes and other information, besides industrial training, industrial property rights etc.
The importance of technological information as a key element in the development, process in a country has been well acknowledged. Whether the issues relate to investment, technology acquisition, manpower development, research and development, the information is an important prerequisite for a sound decision. In the process of establishment of a new undertaking or during its operation, information is one of the first requirements and the success of subsequent operations largely depends on the quality of information on which the initial decisions were based. Therefore, a sound information base is a sine quo non for healthy industrial and technological growth.
There is a difference between information on science and information on technology. Let us make this difference clear. Science investigates, in a systematic way, the nature and behaviour of the natural and physical universe. Its objective is to attain new knowledge from such an investigation. Technology, on the other hand, is not interested in the knowledge per-se but is concerned with the application of such knowledge in the context of trade and industry. Therefore, information on technology would be concerned with items such as equipment, process of manufacture, input output norms, application areas, pollution control aspects, sources of technology, terms of transfer, size of production, input requirements such as raw materials, capital, energy and others.
WHY TECHNOLOGY INFORMATION?
Why is information on technology so important? There are many reasons and a few important ones are:
i) When an entrepreneur decides to set up a manufacturing unit, he wants information on sources from where he could get technology. This he needs so as to make an optimal choice out of available technologies that he can use in the manufacturing process.
ii) The information on plant and equipment required, the raw materials needed, the energy requirements, the pollution control aspects, its appropriateness to local conditions are all very important parameters which could not possibly be ignored.
iii) The investigator would like to know, for instance, how contemporary is the technology that he is proposing to acquire? What is the technology growth in that industry? Haw soon it would be outdated and new and more efficient technologies would overtake his product? For all this the investor would need information on patents, technology life cycles, research areas and others.
iv) When deciding to install a new manufacturing technology, the investors would like to ensure optimum output with the desire & quality and in competitive conditions. There have been a number of cases of failures due to wrong choice of technology. Therefore, a variety of information on technology would be required to guard against such failures. There are many such other items of information on technology which are vital for the success of a manufacturing enterprise.
CONTENTS OF TECHNOLOGY INFORMATION
The technology information would usually cover technological aspects of products, process equipment and technical services. It covers both hardware and software aspects. While it is not possible for us to provide a complete inventory of items that should be included, it suffice to say that all such information which is desirable for the activities of a modern industry would be covered. If the set of information is arranged according to the phases of preparation and implementation of a project, the following key information would be required. It may be noted that the listing is only illustrative, and not comprehensive.
- Alternative products with their technology content
- The stage at which the products are in their technology life cycle
- Sources of availability of technology
- Plant and equipment required
- Optimum size of plant
- Raw materials, utilities and manpower requirement
- Status of process and design development
- Status of industrial property rights
- Appropriateness of technology under local conditions
- Possibilities of sources of funding for technology
The above set of information but in greater detail and with greater depth and scope is required. For instance, regarding sources of technology one would seek information on the various sources of supply of technology, their relative merits and demerits and cost of technology. This information indeed is very desirable so as to be in a better bargaining portion while acquiring technology. Looking at the vast number of technologies that are coming out every year and at the information explosion, a point is being reached where knowing about the information on technology is becoming as important as the technology itself. Aspects like input-output norms, technology services and assistance to be provided by the technology licensor, terms of transfer etc. would be needed. Similarly more details would be required on the impact of technology on environment. What pollution control measures would be required? What are the safety aspects involved?
- Information on plant installation and operations
- Training particularly in any specialised skills that may be required
- Machinery maintenance schedules
- Technology absorption and adaptation plans
Plant Operation Stage
- Product quality and quality control measures
- Efficiency of operations
- Product application, potential fields of new applications
- Technology absorption and adaptation
- Alternate, raw materials and components
- Product upgradation in terms of design, manufacturing techniques and operation
- Technology forecasting
- Reduction in cost of operation due to technology up-gradation
Once it is broadly known as to what information is required, the question is from where to obtain the same.
SOURCES OF TECHNOLOGY INFORMATION