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Jumping the technology s-curve

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1 Author(s)
Asthana, P. ; IBM Corp., Tucson, AZ, USA

To anticipate technological progress, one tool often used by company strategists is the technology s-curve. Proposed about a quarter of a century ago by Richard Foster, the s-curve is based on a fairly straightforward concept. It tracks the progress of a base technology as a function of the R&D effort or, if R&D is constant, of time. The s-curve has been used in plotting technologies as diverse as computer processors, jet engines, fertilizers, and incandescent lamps. It can be described by mathematical models such as the Pearl function, which incidentally has its roots in the description of population growth. Besides optimizing technical productivity, the basic concept of the s-curve has been extended to the area of product and technology substitution. But to make the s-curve method useful for decision making in a commercial product environment several business issues must also be considered.<>

Published in:

Spectrum, IEEE  (Volume:32 ,  Issue: 6 )