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Speed of business and IT

Why does the IT department seem to always lag behind the businessman?

This article originally appeared on the BeyeNETWORK.

Change is a constant – just like death and taxes. It is not a question as to whether the business of your corporation will change. It is a question of how much and how fast your business will change. And as the world your business lives and breathes in changes, so change the business requirements of your world.

There are an almost infinite number of agents of change. Some of the larger agents include:

  • A changing economy

  • A changing legislature

  • Changing competition

  • Changing technology

  • Changing marketplaces

It simply is an inarguable fact that the world has changed in the past and will be changing in the future.

Underlying the information infrastructure of the corporation are information systems. These information systems are complex, large, and difficult to construct. In most cases these information systems have taken years to build; and these information systems serve a wide audience of people – clerical helpers, knowledge workers, management, and the like.

Without the information systems – in their many forms – the corporation either could not function at all or would function in an impaired fashion.

There is a very fundamental problem, and that problem is that information systems operate on the premise that there is a static set of requirements for information. Whenever a key structure is defined, a database is designed, a program is written, or a query is made, it is assumed that there is one and only one statement of requirements. When you design a database, you design it for the purpose of fulfilling today’s requirements. It is next to impossible to design a database for tomorrow’s requirements because no one knows exactly what tomorrow’s requirements will be. Unless you are blessed with fore vision (and who is?), there is no way to know what tomorrow’s requirements will be.

Therefore, the best that we can do is to design systems with an understanding of what today’s requirements are.

Now here is the real problem. The rate at which information systems can be changed is slower than the rate at which business changes. This means that the IT department always lags behind the businessman. This means that the businessperson thinks of the IT person as not really being connected to the business. The IT department is thought of as a group of well-meaning bumblers – smart, technically proficient people who just don’t “get it” when it comes to business.

Now how could all of this change? We could hire more technicians, although that might make the problem worse, not better (see Fred Brooks and the Mythical Man-Month). We could continue on, falling behind a little more each day. Or, we could look for revolutionary, new technology such as Kalido. Or, we could go back in time and rewrite everything.

 Bill InmonBill Inmon

Bill is universally recognized as the father of the data warehouse. He has more than 36 years of database technology management experience and data warehouse design expertise. He has published more than 40 books and 1,000 articles on data warehousing and data management, and his books have been translated into nine languages. He is known globally for his data warehouse development seminars and has been a keynote speaker for many major computing associations. Bill can be reached at 303-681-6772.

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