Blogger: Lyn Robison
Today’s enterprise IT systems perform lots of computations for people. The central purpose of many IT systems is to automate rote calculations to save people the work of having to crunch numbers by hand. Yessiree, process automation is what enterprise IT systems are all about.
Today’s enterprise IT systems can actually do more than merely perform thousands of rote calculations. IT systems are more than glorified calculators. IT systems can provide useful information to businesspeople who need it. (It is easy to assume that that is what BI and decision support systems do, but that is not really what I am talking about. This idea is a bit bigger than that.)
Today’s enterprise IT systems can be made to combine information, consisting of both structured data and semi-structured documents, from multiple, disparate application silos, on any topic that is important to businesspeople. These systems could deliver information that is timely, complete, and relevant to businesspeople at every level of the organization on any topic that is important to them. Businesspeople could have access to business information, independent of which IT system contains that information.
As I talk to IT people about this concept, I am often asked, “Why would you ever want to do that?”
The ready availability of business information from disparate silos would enable businesspeople to gain insights that they would never be able to gain otherwise. Those insights would enable them to make better decisions, accomplish their work more effectively, serve customers better, readily see new opportunities, and in short, make the enterprise succeed in ways it never has before.
Obviously, one of the reasons that the Web is so popular is because people can retrieve information they need without knowing the intricacies of the computer systems that the information resides on. (I can get information from cnn.com without knowing any details about CNN’s computer systems) And guess what? That is useful!
This question of “Why would you ever want to do that?” reminds me of when Rapid Application Development (RAD) first came out. One of the steps in RAD was to get feedback from users. I remember at that time IT people asking “Why would you ever want to do that?”
It was a silly question back then, and it is a silly question today.