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The concept of systemhood makes IT easy to understand. It helps us see how to do less work.
I started these newsletters with two ideas: reduce IT demand by identifying what we do not have to do; and use a strict definition of IT (the automation of information storage, processing and communication) to help understand the value of IT.
As I explored these ideas, I came across some recurring problems.
These problems all relate to the difficulties of understanding IT. We have multiple, competing views of IT: projects, technologies, process, organisational structure. These different views make it impossible to see how IT adds value, or where IT is unnecessary.
One critical (and often overlooked) requirement of systems integration is the need to ensure that systems are resilient and easy to change once they are integrated. This can be achieved by defining the boundaries of each system, and making sure that the internals of each system do not leak beyond their boundaries.
System governance is a method for long-term management of IT. To ensure that all aspects of IT are assessed, it requires that all the IT is presented as separate systems.
These approaches stress the need to define systems carefully. Systems are an important, but undervalued, aspect of design. They are a useful, but undervalued, management handle.
This concept of "systemhood" makes IT much easier to understand. It help non-specialists understand IT, without getting bogged down in technical details. It provides a structure that lets us apply a strict definition of IT, to better understand IT value. It helps us control IT. It helps cut through the misapplication of IT, manage IT in a way that is relevant to its users, and value our existing IT portfolios. A strong assertion of systemhood helps tackle excess demand. Systemhood helps you to work less.
Systemhood has developed as one of the main themes of these newsletters. Next week I will consider whether it is a reasonable concept, and where it might take us in the future.Next: Systemhood's challenging future
Minimal IT: research, training, consultancy and software to reduce IT costs.