|Expanding Access to Science and Technology (UNU, 1994, 462 pages)|
|Session 5: From new technologies to new modalities of cooperation|
|Systems management for information technology development|
These discussions lead us rather naturally to a set of systems engineering life cycles for acquisition of a large system. First, I will consider initial development of an emerging technology. Then, I will examine systems management, or systems engineering, of a product. Finally I will look at some notions of enterprise management.
One possible life cycle for emerging technology identification and assessment, and preliminary implementation, is comprised of two major phases, and can be further characterized by seven phases:
(1) Technology Identification and Assessment(a) scouting and identification of requirements specifications for candidate engineering technologies;
(b) authoritative information documentation concerning technological, economic, and societal need for and feasibility of the technologies;
(c) assessment and evaluation of the technologies;
(d) selection of appropriate technologies for initial development and implementation;
(2) Preliminary Operational Implementation(a) tracking of the progress of development and implementation concerning all aspects of the candidate engineering technology;
(b) supporting the operational implementation of the technology in ways that are meaningful to the technology itself and the results obtained in the earlier phases of the process; and
(c) disengaging from studies that prove to be productive and that have been successfully transferred, or that indicate productivity or risk potentials beyond critical thresholds.
These seven phases are also formally the seven phases [58, 55] that can, with slight modifications in the activities for each phase, be used to identify and nurture emerging technologies that may ultimately be nurtured to the point where they have potential for additional efforts that might lead to new products and services. These seven phases are used in the literature of the National Science Foundation's Emerging Engineering Technology Research Initiative, and were first suggested to this author by Dr. Nicholas DeClaris. The critical attributes of potential development technologies should be identified as part of the initial phases of the process. These should be identified in the form of indicators that will enable early identification of a potentially successful technology. Among these attributes are: innovativeness, timeliness, cost-effectiveness, and profitability of the products, concepts, or services of the technology under consideration. Identification of productive environments for potential technology development and transfer candidates is also a need. It is not difficult to characterize the appropriate environment as one in which a highly motivated group of people are free to pursue potentially unusual ideas, as well as not so unusual ideas. The environment should be one that recognizes and rewards success and that also recognizes that there will be some failures. It must be a sense-of-urgency environment, in that the utility of any need, idea, or actual product is temporal.
The critical attributes of a technology development and transfer process should be identified in the form of indicators that will enable early identification of a potentially successful technology. Among these attributes are: innovativeness, timeliness, cost-effectiveness, and profitability of the technology products, concepts, or services. In our discussions thus far, we have emphasized the early phases of the process. There is, of course, a major need to be concerned with all seven of the phases and to support the usual product life cycle through these. I have emphasized the early phases in the discussion here only because quality products here are so critical to success of the overall process.
The latter phases of the technology development and transfer process and effective support to the entire life cycle of product development are especially important today due to the rapid shrinking of the time between technology conceptualization and subsequent product emergence. The major causes of this shrinkage would appear to be the increased intensity and significance of international competitiveness and the technological changes made possible by information technology - such as computer-aided design and manufacturing methods. One result of these two primary factors, and a host of secondary ones as well, is a shortening of the life cycle of the typical product process, or service. Another result is the ever increasing importance of knowledge as a driving force in competitive strategies. These statements appear essentially invariant, although the specific interpretation and associated implementation may well differ across particular developing and developed economies.
Figure 11 presents an interrelated sequence of two life cycles that comprise an emerging technology R&D life cycle and a systems management life cycle. To this could be added an enterprise management for product evolution life cycle, or any of several others. Recent works by Rouse [49, 50] illustrate the interrelatedness of these quite well and the need for innovation in all of them. A particular need at this time is for efforts that involve the careful integration of the R&D life cycle of emerging technology with product development life cycles for maximum competitive advantage, and a number of contemporary publications are concerned with various aspects of the many associated issues. Roussel, Saad, and Erickson  are particularly concerned with concepts for R&D management as a strategic competitive weapon and needed linkages between R&D management and corporate strategy. Raelin  is particularly concerned with corporate cultures, professional cultures, and social cultures; and the implications of these for various management aspects relating to salaried professionals. A work edited by Goodman and Sproull  is broadly concerned with the ways in which contemporary technology blurs existing organizational structures and functions and changes the nature of work in an organization. It also illustrates how and why potentially more valuable technologies may not be used effectively, and how and why inferior technologies sucked at a lower ultimate performance limit.
Edosomwan  is especially concerned with the close relationship between technological innovation and management and the use of technologies in the workplace and associated product development. Specific guidelines and a framework for technology management, utilization, and forecasting are provided. The major suggestions include:
- provision of facilities for human resource development to enable individuals and organizations to contend with rapid technological and societal change;
- provision of continuous support for R&D efforts through effective systems management;
- identification and implementation of strategies and management controls to effectively interface organizations to their external environments;
- furnish appropriate methodologies and methods to manage technical resource and organizational complexities brought about by rapid technological change;
- identify appropriate relationships between technological innovation and product manufacturability and marketability; and
- evaluate unceasingly the positive and negative impacts of technologies in the work culture and environment, and provide corrective strategies and tactics as needed.