Analyzing the Technology Lifecycle
In the IT world, we often hear about product lifecycles and what it takes to envision, develop, and maintain a product over its lifecycle. More specifically, we hear about its subsets, such as the software testing lifecycle. But one thing that we don’t often hear about is the technology lifecycle.
What is the lifecycle of a technology over its existence? How does it move from the early stages to where it is embraced in full form to its retirement? Why is it that certain technologies take a long hiatus in the early stages until they hit the market in full form, while others take off much earlier? All of these are questions that may not have very objective answers but can best be analyzed with examples.
A larger question that still lingers is why technology itself only took shape in the twentieth century and not earlier. The industrial revolution had a vital role in this, as technology is not only the software but also the integrated experience with its hardware. Depending on where in the lifecycle the technology is, its customer base, marketing requirements, and end user wants are all very different.
Early on, the lifecycle sees innovators, people enthusiastic about technology, early adopters, and visionaries. Then comes the early pragmatists, followed by late conservatives, and finally the laggards or sceptics. Early customers need the technology to further innovate, while the later customers are looking to use it for convenience.
The wearables that are full steam in the market now, such as the Apple Watch, are not a new technology. As early as the '90s, Microsoft had its smart watches in the market, and you could still find one on eBay today. Robotic engineering is still being researched today to see how it can be leveraged in various disciplines; however, the history of robotics dates back several centuries.
The mobile phones that are an integral part of our daily lives today have roots that date back to 1973, when Motorola first made a mobile phone call. Intel spoke about Wi-Fi in the early '90s, but it wasn’t until the middle of the last decade that it gained prominence. Windows XP had a glorious history, including a much talked about retirement.
The point that emerges from all of this is that for a technology to be in the limelight, it cannot work in isolation. Other conducive conditions, such as supporting technologies, hardware progress, and market conditions also need to come together. For example, for mobile phones to gain momentum, growth in communication technology (both hardware and software) was very important. For wearables to take shape, growth in Internet, cloud, social, and mobile technologies has become essential.
While what the future holds for technology is not completely clear, one thing is certain—it is expected to change shape in both positive and negative ways, and newer lifecycles will continue to evolve.