We propose a new conceptual model for understanding technology evolution that highlights dynamic and highly interdependent relationships among multiple technologies. We argue that, instead of considering technologies in isolation, technology evolution is best viewed as a dynamic system or ecosystem that includes a variety of interrelated technologies. By considering the interdependent nature of technology evolution, we identify three roles that technologies play within a technology ecosystem. These roles are components, products and applications, and support and infrastructure. Technologies within an ecosystem interact through these roles and impact each others' evolution. We also classify types of interactions between technology roles, which we term paths of influence. We demonstrate the use of our proposed model through examples of wireless networking (Wi-Fi) technologies and a business mini-case on the digital music industry.
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Acknowledgments The authors would like to thank Andrew Odlyzko and Michael Olesen with the Digital Technology Center, as well as Dennis Ahlburg (dean at the University of Colorado, but previously with the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota) for providing joint financial support of this research. We also thank the MIS Research Center, which provided funding and access to firms involved in forecasting RFID technology innovations, through its ongoing RFID Research Project. We further acknowledge the co-chairs of the 2004 INFORMS Conference on Information Systems and Technology, Hemant Bhargava, Chris Forman and D. J. Wu, for the opportunity to present an early version of this article, and Ritu Agarwal, Frank Bass, Portia Isaacson Bass and the CIST 2004 participants for their helpful comments. Finally, we wish to recognize the helpful advice of the anonymous reviewers and AE.
Copyright 2007 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
- Ecological perspective
- Environmental analysis
- Paths of influence
- Technology analysis
- Technology ecosystem
- Technology evolution
- Technology roles