Time to Get Smart: Top Down IT Approach is Microsoft’s, BlackBerry’s Problem–We All Pay!

Moore's Law

Moore’s Law practically demands that we reinvent ourselves among digital coexistence.

The 2012 InfoWorld/Forrester Research Enterprise Architecture Awards have come out and (no surprise) all five awards to enterprise architectures deployed are for large scale (multi-million or billion dollar) private firms.

While we’re not surprised, we are disappointed.

Here’s why:

In a shrinking world where most new employment is coming from smaller enterprises–many of them woman owned–it’s disheartening to see the IT industry‘s periodical bible continue to pursue–and praise–big business, big enterprise and, to put it in their own words, a:

“top-down view of how their current processes function…”

Wow–did they really say that?

(Read it for yourself, here). This top-down, current view perspective (really past looking present) on IT (and Enterprise Architecture particularly) is exactly what’s wrong with (or to be charitable, what’s missing from) IT and EA today. And it’s exactly how and why companies like RIM and Microsoft are out of touch with consumers.

It’s time to get smart. Patriarchy and paternalism isn’t the answer.

When all the world is starting to notice that top-down institutions from Marriage on up (or down, depending on your perspective) require redefinition to be workable in today’s society, why is it that the key organizing elements of high tech, namely Enterprise Architecture, lags society in making these changes? Where are the marauders, interlopers and revolutionaries of old? (I’m talking to you Bill Gates, and spirit of Steve Jobs at Apple). Why aren’t you out there showing us how to move forward in hope, with optimism and (most of all), effectiveness?

When I began in the business of marketing high tech over 25 years ago, IT was an exciting industry. I could hardly wait for the next innovation and advance, knowing as I did on the front lines that many if not most of the developments really did make a powerful difference to my small-medium size client base.

The latest software or hardware release trumpeted in InfoWorld actually DID make a difference..from Lotus 1-2-3 to the original version of Microsoft Word, to the first portable personal computers, these products truly were universal in their applicability to the individual and as well as all sizes of business.

Today, however, something has happened that turned this once exciting and brilliant business into a moribund, obese and diseased industry.

Original hand drawn chart (1965) demonstrating the number of processors doubling every two years. This prediction has continued (accurately) to the present day. When does this begin to translate into greater value to the small business end-user?

No longer can the latest product produce any measurable improvement on efficiency (unless distraction counts as efficiency in some warped matrix). When the latest version of the mobile phone counts as it’s key improvement a larger screen, you know that Moore’s law is no longer being felt at the consumer level. What is Moore’s law? This is an observed phenomenon, theorized in 1965 and since born out in reality that the number of transistors (and hence calculations) integrated circuits handle doubles every two years (all other things being equal–i.e. size and cost not changing). Due to Moore’s law the entire Personal Computer industry as well as the Smart Phone business were made feasible.

Only thing is, not all that much else has changed in computers. They’re faster, can process more and take less space, but are they really smarter? I would argue no.

Since version one of Microsoft Word 25 years ago this venerable program has had myriad changes and adaptations, which now require that it runs on what at that time would have been a super-computer. The results though, haven’t changed a whole lot. In fact, the argument may be (legitimately) made that the product has gone backward by requiring users to relearn (and relearn, and relearn) basic commands and structure of the program to perform the same things it could do when it first came out. Things that were quicker, easier (required fewer keystrokes) and more intuitive than they are now.

The same is true of many aspects of IT. It isn’t easier to retrieve a name and dial a phone number on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus Android phone than it was on my Motorola Razr of ten years ago–it’s harder (more time-consuming, and labor intensive), now requiring that I look at the screen and pretty much use all of my hand to achieve the end result, with less accuracy. And yes, kids, it used to be possible to recall and dial commonly called numbers without even glancing at the device–simply by touch, using a finger or two.

Come on.

It’s time that Enterprise Architects (and the people who report on them) started getting their heads out from between their legs (to put it delicately) and wake up! I didn’t come into a world of rapidly evolving IT just to spend more and more time getting less and less utility from my devices. It’s time we demanded more from our architecture, our devices and from Moore’s law. It’s time that mobile manufacturers (and other IT experts) stopped thinking top-down and started working bottom-up.

When they do, they might start by asking some serious, legitimate business questions.

For instance:

What do people REALLY want?
What would an ideal mobile device act like?
Who are the actual legitimate drivers of industrial growth?
What is the role of ergonomics, and how does it relate to economics?
How can we meet individuals and small business needs’ while increasing the efficiency
(and effectiveness) of ALL organizations?

Asking these questions will require a wider mindset than many in IT now employ–it will require a reconditioning of criteria and and a serious commitment (more than the current lip service) to bottom-up development. And followed through to a logical conclusion, it may even result in serious consequences such as the ability to crowd-source change, including environmental and other solutions that remain stubbornly out of reach given the current hegemony of ‘bigger is better’ top-down direction from big business and big IT.

Bryce Winter is Brand Media Director at MarkBrand Media Group as well as Chief Architect of the X8 Dream Cloud Enterprise Architecture system, a bottom-up, scaleable and harmonic micro-granular approach to IT and Enterprise Architecture. He is currently waiting on a return call from Microsoft.

2 thoughts on “Time to Get Smart: Top Down IT Approach is Microsoft’s, BlackBerry’s Problem–We All Pay!

  1. Sounds like a trumpet call for drastic change! My guess is that the plethora of “social networks” dilute and scatter, like buckshot, the serious core message that: “The mindset that created the problem will not be able to solve the problem.”
    The city of Jericho only fell AFTER being surrounded by trumpeters who ringed the city SEVEN times blasting out sound vibrations… then the walls came tumbling down! (To the ancient Eastern mindset seven was not so much a cardinal number as an expression for completion, i.e. as many times as necessary to bring about desired end result.)

    Good work, Bryce! And, yes, it is SMALL businesses, many headed by over-worked women, who are now creating employment for others and vital services in their communities. They need efficient and effective tools and support staff.


    • Now I am seven sevens I understand the Jericho metaphor better.
      And, Dorothy, I am facing exactly the call to action alluded to in your concluding text.


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