Technology Life Cycle (Example)
All technological innovations follow a common sequence of events as they move from the initial idea to the end of their life cycle. This technology life cycle is divided into two separate periods – the pre-commercial or pre-operational period and the commercial or operational period.
The terms “pre-operational” and “operational” are typically used when describing military technologies. The terms “pre-commercial” and “commercial” are typically used when describing civilian technologies.
The pre-commercial or pre-operational period consists of five stages. This period begins with the initial conception of an idea and ultimately ends with field trials designed to demonstrate the viability of the technology.
A technology may take decades or even centuries to progress from the emergence of the initial idea to the demonstration of its technological viability.
A technology can remain stalled for years, decades, or longer at any stage of this period and many simply fail to make it through the pre-commercial/pre-operational period.
Demonstration of Technological Viability
At some point during the field trials, the technological feasibility of an innovation may be demonstrated, enabling it to move from the pre-commercial/pre-operation period of its development to the commercial/ operational period.
However, just because an innovation is technologically feasible does not mean it is commercially or operational viable.
The commercial or operational period of a technology’s life cycle also consists of five stages, beginning with the commercial/operational introduction of the technology and culminating with its eventual integration or substitution.
While it may take many years or decades for a technology to progress through the commercial/operation period, this typically happens much more rapidly than the pre-commercial/pre-operational period.
As with the pre-commercial/pre-operational period, a technology may stall at any of these stages or fail completely to make it through the full technology life cycle.