I’ve often heard that when college students “put a mortgage on their futures” with high tuition loans, all they’ve done is set themselves up to be short term financial thinkers for the rest of their lives. One could argue that companies notoriously do the exact same thing with planning their own futures and product portfolios.
During a recent webinar, respected Technology Strategist, Dr. Irene Petrick of Penn State University, talked about seeing this first hand working with companies who are trying to chart their future directions and make sure they invest in the proper technologies and accurately follow market trends. Companies seem so focused on making their short term revenue goals for shareholders, they are distracted from and procrastinating on critical strategic decisions regarding technology investment and game changing innovation.
Not only is she seeing strategic horizons shrink from 7-year planning down to 5-years, 3-years or less, she increasingly sees more and more management attention and resources being siphoned off to leverage short-term gains, often at the expense of securing future revenue. The “make the month” mentality that shuttered numerous factories in the 1990s is cycling back again and moving up the ladder into R&D. Once the economy is in a more comfortable position, it’s thought that planners would be relaxed enough to look further ahead, and hope that no real monsters have appeared meanwhile in these blind spots.
While it seems that only improving jobs reports and consumer spending can turn around the economy, Dr. Petrick does believe the macroeconomic trend of increasingly integrated product ecosystems as a major factor in turning this issue around. Fueled by mobile devices and social media culture, more and more products are being composed of complicated partnerships between manufacturers, supply chains, retailers and more, often known as the “iTunes type ecosystem.” This type of complicated coordination, says Petrick, inevitably leads companies down the path of strategic roadmapping.
To hear more from Dr. Petrick, her webinar, “Why is it so hard to get traction with product line roadmapping?” is available on-demand from Management Roundtable. To have a link to the webinar sent to you via email, click here.