Technology Churn

This term refers to the cycle of replacement of existing products, methods, programming languages, etc. with newer ones.

The late 1990's saw a big jump in technology churn. Things have slowed a bit due to the economic downturn of 2001 - it remains to be seen whether the next economic expansion will be similar to the dotcom boom.


I believe that churn is used in telecom in the sence that jumping between operators. Are you sure that TechnologyChurn have to mean new? We recently changed from CORBA to EJB. I would consider this TechnologyChurn, but not from old to new, but rather from new to new (we where using very new CORBA tech). The "newishness" was not a factor in our decision.

-- NiclasOlofsson

"Churn" seems to me to be a somewhat derisive term. It implies cosmetic change for the sake of the transaction, like a stockbroker "churning" a client's portfolio. Certainly the late 1990s (continuing to today, mid-2002) saw plenty of that. How many different ways can you package a windowing system, a communications API, a network protocol? How many ways can the same vendor do it? Is it really necessary to break file format compatibility from one version of MicrosoftOffice to the next? How is "web services" fundamentally different from regular old IPC? -- MarkSchumann

The main feature of churn is the incompatibility of the new products. Car manufacturers produce new cars every year but it's not churn.

Most of it is just body and styling changes. I suppose a lot of IT stuff is like this: new languages that are really old ideas with new syntax. Or calling it a "big server" instead of a "mainframe".


If things stayed the same, then many vendors would lose money because people would not need to buy new stuff. Thus, there is a vested interest in keeping things churning, regardless of the cost to the users or the merit of the change. This often leads to hype and FUD. Thus most churn is "sideways movement" rather than upward.


What strategies have people found effective in combating TechnologyChurn? When someone in management gets excited about some "new" product which will be expensive to implement and will give no new advantages, how do you convince them that it is just TechnologyChurn and not actually progress?

If you are an older worker, you probably have no choice but to go along with it. Otherwise you may appear as a Luddite. Humans are illogical, chasing the bright red ball like a chimp, and fighting that will end you.

If you are a younger worker, you probably have no choice but to go along with it. Otherwise you may appear as a Luddite. Humans are illogical, chasing the bright red ball like a chimp, and fighting that will end you.

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