If it wasn’t already, 2011 proved to be the year in which social media firmly entrenched itself within our culture. From LinkedIn to Twitter to Facebook, these platforms went from growth engines and sources hype to ubiquitous – nearly pedestrian – components of our everyday lives. In fact, a number of the social media/technology companies went public in 2011 (LinkedIn, Zynga, and Groupon, among others), although none of their offerings ultimately lived up to their financial expectations.
We have already seen how these technologies can transcend consumer/corporate boundaries and have proven themselves to be valuable parts of marketing and sales strategies, but we also expect that they will also have an increasing impact on the ways in which embedded engineers work together.
To some degree, we have all been reconditioned to expect ubiquitous connectivity and real-time communication/information, as can be supported through the aforementioned platforms. The potential utility of this type and cadence of information delivery can also be extended to the development world.
Historically, much of the embedded software/system development cycle was conducted in a somewhat linear fashion and included the assignment of very specific engineering tasks to different engineers, who then often conducted their work in virtual “silos” – isolated from the other work being conducted by their team members. However, the growing interest in and use of more iterative and cyclical development methodologies such as Agile within the embedded market is subsequently forcing many engineering organizations to reevaluate their incumbent processes and tools. These newer methodologies often put a greater emphasis on team communication and collaboration in order to quickly develop and implement changes to software that can be dictated by a continually broadening set of organizational and client stakeholders.
In order to facilitate this higher level of collaboration, we expect that engineering organizations will increasingly be driven to evaluate tools that can both support tighter integration and interchange between design phases as well as enable the rapid communication and feedback cycles that iterative development methodologies often require. As such, we expect that this growing need – combined with the preconditioning of the general adult population to use social media – will drive more engineering organizations (and the tool vendors supporting them) to implement real-time communication platforms frameworks as a key component of their institutionalized development process.