Absurdity of "Technology Mapping and Forecasting" With the Help of the S-curve

Y. B. Karasik
Thoughts Guiding Systems Corp.,
Ottawa, Canada.
e-mail:karasik@sympatico.ca

From time to time TRIZ-journal publishes articles that try to determine the stage of evolution of a particular system [1, 2, 3]. The latest example is Savransky's piece on chalkogenide glasses [4].

His approach is amazing: show that there is a surge in the number of inventions related to a particular technology and start claiming that it is at the second stage of its evolution ! What is this notorious second stage and why Savransky got so excited about chalkogenide glasses allegedly entering it ?

Altshuller related his S-curve to the pace of a system's innovation and to changes in a system's profitability. According to him, the beginning of a system's rapid growth coincides with a surge in the number of inventions related to the system. Also a system allegedly becomes profitable only at the stage of a rapid growth. He called this stage the second stage of a system's evolution.

That is why discovery that something is about to enter "the second stage" is like a news that a gold rush is coming. This explains Savransky's excitement and why he rushed to advertise the news in two journals [4, 5] and one conference proceedings [6] !

Unfortunately, the grim reality is that any system may experience not one but many surges in innovation activity at any stage of its evolution. There can be several surges at the stage of a low growth and little (or no) profit. There can be several surges at the stage of a rapid growth. There can be even surges at the stage of decline. The surge alone does not mean that a system is about to enter "the second stage". It only means that there is a surge in activity for whatever reason, which may well turn out to be a false start !

The Altshuller's theory that relates various portions of the S-curve to the pace of innovation and the level of profitability is absolutely flawed and cannot serve as a basis for any serious "technology mapping and forecasting".

Thus, despite Savransky is not getting tired of claiming at all possible venues that chalkogenide glasses are entering the profitable "second stage", it ought to be said that "even if one says 'sugar' a 1000 times, his mouth would not get any sweeter !"

R E F E R E N C E S:

  1. Sanjana Vijayakumar, "Maturity Mapping of DVD Technology", TRIZ-journal, September 1999.
  2. Severine Gahide, "Application of TRIZ to Technology Forecasting. Case Study: Yarn Spinning Technology", TRIZ-journal, July 2000.
  3. Nathan Gibson, "The Determination of the Technological Maturity of Ultrasonic Welding", TRIZ-journal, July 1999.
  4. Semyon D. Savransky and Tz-Chin Wei, "Express TRIZ Analysis of US Patents in Non-volatile Phase Change Memory", TRIZ-journal, September 2005.
  5. Semyon D. Savransky and Tz-Chin Wei, "TRIZ analysis of US patents in ovonic phase change memory", Journal of Ovonic Research, Vol. 1, No. 3, June 2005, pp. 31--37.
  6. Semyon D. Savransky and Tz-Chin Wei, "Analysis of US patents (1996-Nov.2004) in phase charge memory", The 1st International Conference on Memory Technology and Design, ICMTD, France, May 2005, Paper EP-5.