There was a well-written article in TechRepublic that addresses the question: Is It Time To Reduce The Complexity Of Our Solutions? The article starts off with the statement that:
“There are many information technology trends to observe if you’re in the business long enough. For instance, when I began we spent much of our time replacing thin-clients (aging dumb terminals) with full-blown Windows installations and bloated software clients. The trend was to push more horsepower out to the users and distribute the processing to increasingly powerful PCs. We then turned around a few years later and began emphasizing bringing applications back to the data center and using thin computing once again. Now, I am the unfortunate witness to end-user mutinies which are forcing us to return fat-clients to the desktop. It’s classic centralization versus decentralization, and is a topic worth discussing in its own right. But I will save that for another day.”
The Article’s Other Subject
The article proceeds to outline various ways to address the aforementioned issues. These issues include simplifying solutions, doing more with less, unintended consequences, and managing the solution which cover some of the points in our blog on What Are Some Patterns Or Anti-Patterns Where Architecture And Governance Can Help. The article wraps up with:
“There are only so many new systems and technologies a team of IT pros, however skilled, can implement before it becomes critical to take a step back from the frenzied pace and analyze the existing solutions. Integrating everything may not always be the best course of action. Sometimes simplifying can lead to more satisfied customers and staff.”
The article was well done, but it wasn’t the article that caught our eye, though we nodded in agreement to its contents. BUT, it was one of the commenters that caught our attention. We at Xentity have worked in a wide breadth of operations across many sectors in the economy since 1982.
We See a Multi-Faced Recurring Theme/Problem
Leadership in The IT Industry is Polar
They think about cool technologies and dressing systems in pretty bells and whistles but fail to address the core of their own industry. The industry is not about technology. The industry is about information and information processes then applying technology to those processes. These processes often travel across a wide breadth of departments, organizations, and even industries. Information and knowledge ‘ownership’ is temporal for extremely short intervals of time before others gain access to it and begin to use it. I am not discussing personal information like SSN’s but instead I am discussing practice. The actual owner of knowledge are the communities of practice. Managing and controlling information must be addressed at this level.
Common Leadership in the Various Industries Are Inept at Effectively Utilizing, Implementing, or Managing Information Technology
This was something I thought would eventually fade as more competent leadership matured over the years but that has failed to fully materialize. At the center of the problem is that despite many IT professionals who are highly skilled, they often are hog tied by CFO, controllers, and other leadership. I find that a large majority of leadership and management have little grasp at running an operation but have made their way into leadership roles. Decisions are made not made based on sound strategies that resolve the root problems and advance business performance. This is something I have seen repeatedly more than the cases where they have in fact made sage decisions.
Information Technologies Are Strategic in Nature
The effects are long term but leadership’s attention span is about 90 days. This is evident in their calls to “Go Live” and to “Show Results”. In talking these same people the attention span is about 90 secs. Most are incapable of seeing the abstract and almost always ethereal world of IT. What appeals to them is what “sounds good”. Hence, the wild swings back and forth between strategies and platforms without realizing the long term cost and effects.
In short, today I believe there is a clash between information architectures and organizational architectures. Organizations want to cling on to tradition establishing artificial boundaries that disrupt information processes. They employ expeditors and redundant efforts to resolve the conflicts between information and organizational architectures. The complexity enters at this point. Adaptive and autonomic systems are cute technologies for IT professionals but we really need adaptive systems for industry. The systems must organize around information processes and be able to self organize. We must structure staffing along these information processes. In the end, there needs to be a symbiotic union between staffing, business, and IT that is adaptable to emerging conditions.
The referenced article is a great commentary on the complexity of our IT systems. As the What Are Some Patterns Or Anti-Patterns Where Architecture And Governance Can Help blog points out, we couldn’t have agreed more.