Two questions have always fascinated me. First, how best can the business express its desired outcomes in an IT meaningful way, and second, how best can IT express solutions in a business meaningful way?
So, I followed Andy’s recent post (Enterprise Architects versus Business Architects)
with interest. It resonated deeply with me and seemed to have a currency about it…
We often talk about Business and IT as simply just that – two dimensions. We collectively invest significant resource in trying to bridge the divide between these two, but despite these efforts, many of us have experienced the loss in translation across the ‘gap’. I’ve come to believe, however, that there’s a 3rd dimension. It’s always been there, and was almost openly discussed back in the sixties to the early nineties.
The dimension? Information Systems – IS in contrast to IT.
Let me describe what I mean by an Information System – the landscape of business information used by people within an organisation and how they use information to deliver business outcomes, which is interesting in contrast to how we might define IT as the hardware and software technology that automates or otherwise supports information processing.
For me, the Information Systems dimension is the intersection between business and IT. In this dimension, people and machines play an equally important part in the delivery of value. In the IS world, the ‘business / IT divide’ simply doesn’t exist – it turns out that by working in this dimension, a common language between business and IT is not only possible – it seems inevitable.
There is nothing new in the concept but its relevance today versus years ago has changed: Today more information, created and used by more people and machines than could’ve ever been imagined then. People, through IT, are connected to limitless interacting systems of information.
I’ve found blowing the dust off and refreshing the concept of Information Systems is proving very useful; providing insights and context to tried-and-tested modelling techniques used by business process analysts and enterprise architects. And, what’s really exciting me, is that this is leading to better (more useful) outcomes to people (and organisations) using IT by shining a light on the interacting ‘systems’ of value and the associated implications and affects on the ‘systems’ of information.
Comments on the topic would be very welcome – and if interested, can I suggest taking a look at a recent post on Nigel Green’s Services Fabric blog exploring the world of ‘Systems Thinking’ and Web-fuelled trends.