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Colloquium - Carter

Gaining Predictable Benefit from New Software Technology
Lynn Carter
Software Engineering Institute
1/23/1997
3:45pm-4:45pm

The list of new technologies is growing ever more quickly. Now Java is the darling of the community and many researchers are rushing to figure out how to leverage this latest advance. It may be true that you will be a loser if your latest and greatest piece of work doesn't play well with what the community bandwagon is playing. We have all seen, however, that producing good technology that integrates well isn't enough. New technology adoption remains expensive, labor intensive, and unpredictable. We believe the root cause is the lack of attention to adoption process and all of the changes that must take place in order for a new piece of technology to bring real benefit to the adopting organization.

Most software technology developers produce technology for software engineers, yet few software engineers truly control the environment in which they must operate. When technology developers think about middle and senior management, they tend to think in terms of "building sponsorship" for efforts to obtain the technology. Few consider that these managers must change the way they do their jobs in order for the environment to change so that the new technology can be adopted successfully. The greater the benefit a new technology is to an organization, the more the organization must change in order to realize the benefit, the more attention that needs to be paid to establishing and managing the new engineering environment properly.

Developing technology that can be easily adopted begins with understanding how organizations would actually use the technology. While it is not necessary to consider all possible organizational structures and processes, it is important to identify the key roles and responsibilities that must be played. When the packaging of the technology provides support for the major roles that must be played then technology consuming organizations have a reasonable chance to design meaningful adoption efforts. When the packaging is primarily targeted at the software engineer, the people playing the other critical roles are left to dream up how they must change on their own and the adoption is bumpy at best.

Refreshments will be served immediately before the talk at 3:30pm.
Hosted by William Waite.

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