The industrialisation of software production - a knowledge management perspective
Van Niekerk, Melchior Jacques
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This research utilises theories of organisational knowledge creation from the field of knowledge management to analyse the manner in which the industrialisation of the software development industry is likely to occur. The aim of the research is to prove the following hypothesis: If the software development industry moves towards industrialisation, then knowledge assets in the format of universal production templates will come into being. The research commences by providing background information on the state of practise of software engineering by giving an overview of the changes in the industry over the past four decades. The software development industry is consequently presented from the viewpoint of the proponents of a craftsmanship based approach to software development, and from the viewpoint of those proposing that industrialisation will offer a solution to the problems besetting the industry. In this discussion the terms industrialisation as well as economies of scale and scope are defined. Potential paths and drivers that will allow the industrialisation of the industry are presented – software factories as a path towards industrialisation, and cloud computing as a driver for industrialisation. In order to supply a knowledge management perspective, the theories of Ikujiro Nonaka and Max Boisot are presented. These theories assume different perspectives on the creation of organisational knowledge, but an attempt is made to reconcile the differences between the two theories. Particular attention is paid to the economic meaning and implications of knowledge, information and data as factors of production. The concept of knowledge assets are examined in detail, and placed into the context of software development. In the last chapter the research and conclusions of the previous chapters are consolidated, to prove the central hypothesis of this work.