The technology to be used is unfamiliar
The technology to be used is unfamiliar and may have quirks or be unsuitable. Some technology we don’t know about at all – where do the new approaches come from to be considered?
There are two issues here; how we get to hear of new technology and what it can do for us, and how we deal with the risks when adopting new technology. Identification of useful new technology may be problem driven or opportunity driven, and probably will be a combination of both. That is, we may look to new technology to solve existing problems, or we may look at new technology and see the opportunity for new benefits. The first hurdle is to cut through the marketing hype and enthusiastic ‘techie’ talk to assess the reality of what the technology can do. Any remaining candidates need further investigation and the building of a base of expertise that can get the technology to deliver its promised benefits. There are costs and benefits from being innovators or early adopters of new technology (Ref 1,2)
The gathering of technical knowledge is frequently left to the Architect role. However, where a wide range of technologies could be of interest, keeping track of all the possibilities will not leave time for other architect responsibilities. Many places concentrate on one technology, but this brings the risk of being left behind as the world moves on. When assessing a new technology, or when first using that technology, investigate its strengths and weaknesses by BuildingPrototypes. Where the new technology is a radical change from previous experience, there may need to be accompanying changes in process. It may be advisable in these cases to extend the prototype into a mini project and test the new process end-to-end at the same time, an approach described in MicroCosm.
Modern Agile approaches may choose to aim for EarlyAndRegularDelivery rather than prototypes and mini projects. The tendency to employ or encourage GeneralizingSpecialists allows for the accumulation of technical knowledge dispersed through the team. The high value placed on communication allows ready access to this technical knowledge when it becomes pertinent.
1. “Crossing the Chasm” details TBD
2. Lecture notes (Risk/Choosing a Technology) Prof. Larry Bernstein