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The Technology S-curve The S-Curve Four Propositions At industry level, S-curves help explain why alternative technologies succeed or fail To achieve high performance, component technology must be improved as well as the architectural system design

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the technology s curve

The Technology S-curve

Professor Aron Spencer

the s curve
The S-Curve

Professor Aron Spencer

four propositions
Four Propositions
  • At industry level, S-curves help explain why alternative technologies succeed or fail
  • To achieve high performance, component technology must be improved as well as the architectural system design
  • S-curves are useful for descriptive analysis, but less useful for prescriptive analysis
  • Established firms may have an advantage with component related S-curve changes, but attackers have advantage with architectural changes

Professor Aron Spencer

why does technology plateau
Why does technology plateau?
  • Fundamental Natural Laws
  • Scale phenomena (too large or too small)
  • System complexity
  • Insufficient investment

Professor Aron Spencer

types of technological change
Types of Technological Change
  • Architectural Change
    • Rearrangement of the way components relate to each other within a product’s system design
  • Modular innovation
    • A fundamental change in the technological approach employed in a component, but architecture is unchanged.
  • Incremental Change
    • Improvements in component performance that build on established technology concept
    • Improvements if system design with no significant changes in component relationships.
  • Radical Innovations
    • Involve both new architecture and new fundamental component technologies

Professor Aron Spencer

prescriptive s curve strategy
Prescriptive S-Curve Strategy

Follow the Grey line…

Professor Aron Spencer

where is the s curve
Where is the S-Curve?

Professor Aron Spencer

why different limits
Why Different Limits?
  • Nobody knows what the natural, physical performance limit is in complex engineered products
  • Perceptions of technological maturity may be highly firm specific
  • Limits may be influenced by resources invested.

Professor Aron Spencer

summary
Summary
  • S-curve analysis is more useful to see where you are/have been than where you should go
  • Managers need to balance where they place their investments
  • Don’t mistake an architectural technology change for a component technology shift
    • First movers have an advantage with these
    • Incumbents often lose (more to come…)

Professor Aron Spencer