Comprehending the S curve of technology innovation

Comprehending the S curve of technology innovation

Though the inception of a new technology seems random, its evolution more than time once it will come into existence reveals a moderately secure pattern which can most effective be explained in conditions of effectiveness characteristic.

The effectiveness characteristic refers to an element of curiosity to a designer of a solution or a consumer of a distinct technology.  For example, fiber optics in opposition to the cables in common phone programs offers a better voice clarity. The pace of a computer is yet another example of effectiveness characteristic that is resulted in new technology. Technological effectiveness can be expressed in conditions of any attribute, this sort of as density in the electronics marketplace (variety of transistor for each chip) or aircraft pace in miles for each hour. The effectiveness of a technology has a recognized pattern more than time that, if properly recognized, can be of terrific use in strategic arranging. Technology innovation refers to the improvements in effectiveness characteristics of a distinct technology more than time.

The daily life cycle of innovations can consequently be explained employing the s-curve which maps again in a unique way, ie, advancement of earnings or efficiency in opposition to time. In the early stage of a specific innovation, advancement is relatively slow as the new solution establishes alone. At some level shoppers start out to demand and the solution advancement increases more promptly. New incremental innovations or improvements to the solution allow advancement to continue on. Towards the end of its daily life cycle, advancement slows and may even start out to decline. In the later stages, no total of new financial investment in that solution will yield a usual level of return.

The s-curve is derived from half of a usual distribution curve. There is an assumption that new goods are most likely to have “solution daily life”. i.e. a start-up phase, a rapid increase in earnings and eventual decline. In fact the terrific the greater part of innovations hardly ever receives off the base of the curve, and hardly ever makes usual returns.

What is important is that each and every technology has a variety of effectiveness characteristics of a distinct technology more than time. As mentioned before, once a new technology will come into existence, the effectiveness characteristics of curiosity demonstrate incredibly minor enhancement in the early stages of the technology.

This first stage is adopted by a next phase of incredibly rapid enhancement in the effectiveness characteristic. Throughout the third stage, the effectiveness characteristic proceeds to improve, but the level of enhancement commences to decline. In the closing stage, incredibly minor enhancement is noticeable and the graph that charts the progress in the effectiveness characteristic of a technology more than time normally takes an S-form.

The s-curve of technological innovation summarizes 4 big stages in the evolution of a effectiveness characteristic.

1. Emergence – (also recognised as embryonic stage) shows minor enhancement in key effectiveness characteristic. Technology operates far underneath its probable. Neither the characteristics of technology nor its applicability to industry needs may be effectively recognized. A extensive gestation period of time exists before attempts are built to create a technology. This new invention period of time is characterised by a period of time of slow first advancement. This is the time when experimentation and first bugs are worked out of the program.

2. Fast enhancement – enhances at an accelerating phase. The technology enhancement period of time is characterised by rapid and sustained advancement. As companies engage in generation, working experience accumulates more than time accelerating the enhancement in effectiveness characteristic. The technology results in being vulnerable to substitution or obsolescence when a new or better-accomplishing technology emerges.

3. Declining enhancement – it declines enhancement.

4. Maturity – further enhancement results in being incredibly difficult to obtain. The mature technology period of time starts when the higher restrict of the technology is approached and progress in effectiveness slows down. This is when the technology reaches its organic limitations as dictated by components this sort of as physical limitations.

Throughout the early phase, a new technology is introduced into the industry spot but its adoption is restricted to a compact team of early adopters and compact niche marketplaces. As the solution gains ascendancy, new abilities are introduced and refined with the intention of assembly the needs of the broadest doable phase of mainstream buyers. Throughout this center phase a dominant structure commences to emerge, winning the allegiance of the industry spot and also effecting standardization of all the things from structure to manufacturing. The dominant structure in change lets heightened opposition as new entrants recognize opportunities for further innovation based mostly on value, scale and solution effectiveness.

This is the period of time of rapid and biggest advancement as a technology matures and reaches the mainstream.  Throughout the closing phase the solution reaches industry saturation.

Some examples of technologies that have adopted this route can be said as follows.

The vacuum tube technology was restricted by the tube’s dimensions and the ability use of the heated filament. The two of these components were organic limitations to electron conduction in a vacuum tube. Electronic engineers could not triumph over these limitations. The arrival of the strong-state technology, or transistor, which permitted electron conduction in strong materials, altered the physical limitations of dimensions and ability. The transistor technology commenced a new technology daily life cycle and rendered the vacuum-tube technology out of date.

Another example is ceramics, which have bigger operating temperatures and substitute for metals made use of in inside combustion engines the newer technology permits better effectiveness of the engines. The effectiveness of the engines can continue on to improve as a final result of a sequence of newer technologies, each and every with a bigger restrict of the effectiveness parameter of curiosity.


Narayanan, V. K (2001) Controlling technology and innovation for Aggressive Gain, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Corridor.

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