Socio-technical Systems in a Nutshell


A system can be defined as a collection of components working together to achieve a common objective (Sommerville, 2013). People as well interact with technology in order to achieve some goal in organizations bringing up the concept of socio-technical systems, which is basically technological resources which help people to interact themselves and organizations to achieve their goals.

According to the Interaction Design Foundation, 2017, these below are examples of socio-technical (STS) systems:

  • E-mail;

  • Twitter;

  • Facebook;

  • YouTube;

  • Chat;

The technology we have today allows us to have more friendly contact with our family, friends, coworkers, and people involved in our lives. If we consider today we can chat live with many people in different localizations and in a high-resolution online meeting via Skype, for instance, we can see the impact of technology in the people interaction.

The way we work today in multi-cultural companies, especially in multinational companies are much more dynamic and the impact of the socio-technical systems, allows this kind of not only communication improvements but also of collaborative work to flow better, the way tools helps a lot this kind of activity.


System failure may occur in any system because of hardware or even software issues. If we consider that systems should be tolerant to failure because of the software engineering methods to do not be developed enough to produce systems with no-failure.

In the past, when systems used to be written in C and C++, the probability of a system to produce failure was far beyond higher than the technology it is written today in the Java and .NET, which are more modern platforms. The introduction of the high-level programming languages allowed developers to focus more on the software to be developed based on the business solution they want to achieve and focus less on the low-level machine instructions and memory management issues in which may lead to system failures.


Software products are usually developed as projects in software house companies, which may have a start and an end. Software Engineers in order to produce software systems, are based on the development of the software engineering and project management studies, which are understood and allowed by the research distributed and shared all over the world based on the experience acquired by all the individuals which may share it in masters or doctoral studies like this one we have at the University of Liverpool Online.

The impact on socio-technical systems comes out when software needs changes and upgrades because considering we have changes in the business operations and changes caused by technological advances, for instance, it all comes to planning in which is responsible to continuously improve the software based on its needs.


Ian Sommerville. (2013). Introducing sociotechnical systems. [Online Video]. 23 November 2013. Available from: [Accessed: 14 June 2017].

Interaction Design Foundation. 2017. The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed.. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 15 June 2017].

Published by Ademir Constantino

Software Engineer

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