There are different types of technology: fixed, flexible, hard, soft, product, operation, equipment, cutting-edge, innovation, clean, among others.
Beyond its types, it is important to remember that although we tend to associate technology with electronic devices, technology is any knowledge or resource applied in a specific area. The invention of the wheel, for example, was one of humanity’s greatest technological inventions.
Classifications of technology types vary by author. Each of them takes into account whether the technology can have more than one use, if it produces a tangible or intangible good, if it is applied to a product, an operation or a process, etc. According to its versatility
In 1967, American sociologist James D. Thompson proposed two general types of technology in his book Organizations in Action: fixed and flexible technology. Since then, other authors have proposed new categories, but their classification is considered pioneering. According to Thompson, technology can be:1. Fixed technology
It is technology designed to serve a single purpose. Therefore, it cannot be used for purposes other than those for which it was created. In addition, fixed technology evolves very slowly, unlike other types of technology that require constant updating.
The fact that fixed technology has a single function makes it highly specialized, which ensures superior performance over the use of flexible technologies.
However, its upgrade limitations translate into high maintenance or replacement costs. In addition, it runs the risk of becoming obsolete more quickly.
An example of fixed technology par excellence are oil refineries, composed of a series of infrastructures and procedures dedicated exclusively to the transformation of oil into its different derivatives, such as gasoline or diesel.2. Flexible technology
Flexible technology is one that has technology several uses, as it can be adapted or complemented to other technologies or products. This means that it can change its operation or the purpose for which it was created.
This adaptability is efficient and economical for companies, since they do not have to invest in several fixed technologies, but the same type of technology can serve to cover several of their needs.
An example of flexible technology is blockchain, which allows the digital storage of data that cannot be lost, modified or deleted. This makes it used in cryptocurrency transactions, in the food industry to track products, or in electoral systems. According to the product obtained
Depending on whether the technology is used to obtain tangible goods (such as physical products) or intangible goods (methodologies or knowledge), it is classified into:3. Hard technology
It refers to the production or manufacture of machinery or devices that can be used as final products or as parts of a larger structure.
Hard technology is directly linked to the processing of raw materials, therefore, its development depends on physical, chemical or biological processes that allow the transformation of materials into finished products.
Hard technology is probably the type of technology to which we have greater access in our day to day, since it involves the manufacture of any artifact that allows us to perform a task.
Examples of hard technology can range from a fork to a screw to a hair dryer, a car, a cell phone or computer hardware.4. Soft technology
These are all the methodologies, processes, knowledge that, although they are not tangible, (since they are not physical products), constitute an asset or material of value, because they complement the use of hard technologies. In other words, hard technology would be the object and soft technology is the knowledge of how to use that object.
Many soft technologies rely on areas of knowledge such as psychology, communication, statistics, administration, marketing, accounting, among others.
Examples of soft technologies can be agile methodologies, which help manage projects efficiently, software production and digital marketing strategies.
See also:Difference between hardware and softwareTypes of softwareAccording to your application
The technology can be applied in the design phase of a product or in production processes. In each case, it is classified into:5. Product Technology
They are all the processes, tools and information that make the development of a product possible. This includes everything from the raw material to make a product, master formulas, testing methods, product evaluation reports, technical specifications, instructions for use, etc.
In other words, product technology is all the knowledge involved in making an artifact. It is knowing how to do something, or what in English is known as know how. This knowledge is protected by law with registrations or patents, so it cannot be reproduced without the manufacturer’s permission.
An example of product technology is the Coca-Cola formula.6. Operation technology
It is the constant updating of methods, procedures, knowledge and devices in order to drive improvements in production processes. Operating technology promotes efficiency by stimulating higher productivity with fewer resources and in less time.
This type of technology has many applications in business, business and industrial environments, where constant improvements to existing processes are always being sought to save resources.
An example of operating technology is long-distance communication systems, which have evolved from letters and telegraph to instant messaging or video calls.7. Equipment Technology
It is the technology developed by the manufacturers themselves as a complement to their products. In some industries, the manufacturer only develops the device, but the technology is implemented by others. This is the case of cell phones, whose applications are developed by third parties.
In equipment technology, the manufacturer takes care of both processes.
An example would be the LED technology of current televisions. This technology is developed by the TV manufacturer itself and is integrated into the device. According to your level of innovation
Depending on how novel a technology is for the time or context in which it is used, it is classified as:8. State-of-the-art or high-tech technology
These are the most advanced knowledge or devices for the time they were designed. While it can be understood that high technology can be better than the previous ones, the reality is that when dealing with processes or artifacts with little time in the market, it is not always possible to determine their true scope or efficiency in the short term.
In addition, the implementation of cutting-edge technology involves high levels of investment that not all companies or individuals are willing to make.
Examples of cutting-edge technology for the present moment would be the internet of things, the 5G network, biotechnology and artificial intelligence.9. Appropriate or intermediate technology
Also called appropriate technology, it is any knowledge, method or artifact that helps solve a problem, so that it is compatible with the cultural, economic and social conditions of the environment in which it is going to be applied.
The term “adequate” refers to solutions according to the reality of the population to which they are addressed. These are generally disadvantaged communities where the implementation of state-of-the-art technology may be unsustainable in economic or environmental terms.
An example of appropriate technology would be solar cookers used in populations that lack access to electricity or gas.10. Low technology
Low technology is all knowledge or devices that are already obsolete with respect to high technology or that only require artisanal or mechanical work for their operation.
Low technology is still used despite the existence of more advanced technologies. In this sense, low technology is cheap and in many cases, energy efficient.
Examples of low technology are trades such as blacksmithing and pottery or homemade methods for making craft drinks. According to the production system