May 1, 2006

Advanced Concept

While at Software 2006 last month, Mark from Symantec argued for the need of advanced concepts group in an organization. His point is that it brings more agility in a world that requires more and more innovation done faster every time. We think product companies are structured for fast turn around, think again. The engineering department in an organization is not structured to protorype and do pilots, because they have a release schedule to manage, and revenue expectations aren't going to be met otherwise. Typically what companies will have in addition to an Engineering group is an advanced concept group taking care of early prototypes. This group works closely with the marketeers, and pilot customers, to deliver a useful product that satisfies pre-decided market potential conditions -- in no time, because their job is to bring this pilot to the early adopters. Their sole mission si to crank out the code, that will show the client that they really need this new thing, forget about most of the other priorities. Once the prototype is considered successful, then the group is now made a full blown division in the engineering group, where they will now develop like big boys put the necessary processes for multi languages releases, maintenance, backward compatibility etc. I don't think they build throw away prototype, but I would not be surprised that some serious refactoring, rearchitecturing etc is done during that first year as the new entrant in the engineering group. The bottom line is that the organization can adapt faster to market trends this way, because the marketeers who are dealing with the clients, can get something going without having to wait 12months. I just read that samsung developed a portable digital radio player in just over 9months from handshake to final delivery to one of their customers, this is fast. So for an orgfanization in my mind there is not one group overseeing everything, from start to finish. The ideal organization forms multi-disciplinary teams to build the first version, the prototype guys with the duck tape etc. One that is done and successful - they morph into the productization department, the manufacture, the R&D group of Software companies. This looks awefully similar to the design industry.

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