SCHOTT solutions no. 1/2011 > Technology Management

Proud of receiving this prestigious award: SCHOTT Board member Dr. Hans-Joachim Konz (3rd from left), Michaela Thiel, Dr. Rüdiger Sprengard, Dr. Stefan Peter, Dr. Hildegard Römer, Oliver Baumann and Dr. Roland Langfeld (from left). Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell

Excellent Management of Technology

SCHOTT receives prestigious award as a ”Successful Practice Company” in the area of innovation and technology management.

Christine Fuhr

Thomas Watson, the founder of ibm, is attributed with having said, ”I think there is a world market for maybe five computers,” back in 1943. At the time, it was quite difficult to predict the market success of technologies. And it still is today, despite the fact that companies now have access to systematic processes, methods and IT instruments for use in their innovation and technology management. This makes strategic planning of innovations much easier and supports their successful execution and introduction to the market. The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT) in Aachen, Germany, is one such institute that conducts research in this area and develops system solutions for companies. The Fraunhofer IPT started its broad international project study that involved 298 companies in various industries from Germany, other European countries, the U.S.A. and Asia in the spring of 2010. On the basis of a written survey, in-depth interviews and case studies, the consortium identified the five best companies and then conducted final on-site analysis. The technology group SCHOTT was one of the award-winning ”Successful Practice Companies”.

”We remain focused, act quickly and don’t waste any valuable resources.”

Dr. Hans-Joachim Konz, Member of the Board of Management SCHOTT AG

When it comes to the systematic process of innovation and technology management, the various Business Units and central units like Innovation Management and Controlling, R&D and the patent department work together very closely. For SCHOTT, being able to describe possible developments in great detail in the Business Unit-specific innovation roadmaps is extremely important. The company is then able to discuss the general direction and projects with the Business Units and central research department and assign priorities. ”This ensures that we remain focused, can act quickly and don’t waste any valuable resources,” explains Dr. Hans-Joachim Konz, the member of the Board of Management of SCHOTT ag responsible for research and development. For this reason, innovation strategy is included in the Business Units’ annual planning process. It forms the basis for innovation roadmaps that list the specific innovation projects (products and technologies) that can help in executing the innovation strategy for the respective BU. An ”InnoMarketKit” is available to help employees look for ideas in a systematic manner. This offers information on modern market concepts like ’Open Innovation’. These approaches are intended to open up the innovation process to the outside world. Company and department-specific key performance indicators (KPI) are then used to monitor whether the innovation objectives that have been set in the innovation strategy are being achieved. As a unit that does development work and conducts research on the basis of its technological expertise, but also supports the Business Units with their activities, the central research department plays an important role in innovation and technology management. The Business Units and central research and analytics are linked in many different ways. ”Our employees are the key success factor in our technology management. We can only come up with new ideas with their help and they also have the internal and external ties to our customers and the universities,” Dr. Konz explains. For this reason, schott places a lot of importance on awards, expert careers and a reserve budget to support new ideas in order to motivate and recognize its people. And successfully so: the new product rate now exceeds 30 percent. The patent department is also firmly anchored to technology management. This department successfully assists research, development, manufacturing and sales on achieving their objectives and manages alle patent-related manners. For instance, schott currently owns more than 2,500 global patents.

The company excelled in benchmarking by presenting practical examples like the development of back contact modules (see page 16) and PV modules with improved cell and module technology. ”We are quite pleased with being recognized as a ’Successful Practice Company’. This confirms that we are on the right track with our strategy,” Dr. Konz concludes. <|