Professor Colin J Theaker
Visiting Professor, Staffordshire University
Engineering Manager, Terrafix Ltd
"Industry Strength" – Its true meaning for high-tech SMEs.
This presentation covers the very critical issue of how advanced technologies can be taken out of the academic domain and adopted by modern IT industries. Around 90% of European companies fall within the category of being a Small to Medium sized Enterprise (SME). These have very different constraints with respect to the adoption of new technologies than do the large multi-national companies with a large R&D budget. In particular, the impact of making the wrong choice of technologies is more far reaching. There is a critical balance between choosing technologies at the leading edge that may yield competitive advantage, or backing technologies that fail to fulfil their promise and lead to significant financial loss, which consequentially may result in the downfall of the company.
The concept of "Industry Strength" is therefore of particular strategic importance when applied to technologies, techniques and tools to be adopted by an SME. This case study looks at the way a high technology company, involved in real time, safety critical and mission critical systems has approached the adoption of new technologies. The paper covers the choice of paradigms, the methods adopted and the tools to support the methods. The technologies include object orientation; as embodied through UML as a design method; JAVA as a language for systems development; and the tools to support systems implementation. Configuration management systems are included for overall version control and project management. A metrics programme has also been introduced within the Company to measure the impact of these technologies within a real-life environment. This paper presents a systematic and ongoing analysis of the impact of new technologies within a small enterprise seeking to maintain its position at the leading edge of technology.