We have been witnessing a progression in what we manage, first due to the falling cost of computing power, next storage, and now due to the growing capacities of software functionality and flexibility.
As the cost of computing power began to fall, we were able to manage data, taking the information, practically verbatim from paper forms and tossing it in a database. Far from the ideal of paperless offices we all dreamed about, but a start. And very difficult to retrieve the information in a form other than how it was entered. So we managed the details of the information on the form and its layout. It wasn’t until the software developers gained a better understanding of relational databases and report development did that data begin to morph into information that could be managed. And as the cost of storage fell, the amount of data that could be turned into information grew exponentially. We are now caught in the age of information overload, but we have been developing technologies aimed at making sense of all that information. And the industry is moving along, although predictably and linearly.
It has been over 20 years of being data-centric and information-centric without real, disruptive technological advances. Certainly, Internet technology is disruptive, but it actually aggravated the problem of information overload, not helped it.
The world is shrinking, largely due to the Internet, the falling cost of storage and the associated rise in bandwidth. And as the world shrinks, its information paths grow more complex: information density increases and transmission time decreases thus creating massive amounts of data that are more difficult to comprehend in shrinking time.
Is the solution to improve our existing tools by making them faster and more cost effective? Or maybe to tweak the methodologies about how we approach the problem? These will help manage the problem, but cannot ultimately yield a solution.
As more information becomes readily available more quickly, we need to seek out means to manage our processes, otherwise we will be swamped. No longer can we massage the information to suite our needs, instead we must manage our processes to accommodate the information. If we fail to do so, others will easily pick up where we were left behind.
And because so much information is so freely and widely available, it is no longer our circle of competitors whom we must be weary. Change will come from the unknown or unseen, find and quickly fill an opening, and expand from there. And before it is realized, the spark will become a dominating force because the flexibility in process due to their small size permitted innovate thinking and execution.
We must allow some vulnerability in thinking these days. It is time to stop thinking and acting incrementally (at least in whole). We must yield our methods, although tried and true, to new business processes; processes that are generated from the advances in software development largely due to greater adoption of Open Source Software (see previous blog entry).
As our core competencies morph from managed information to their processes, we need tools to manage those processes. The processes now become tangible assets and must be managed or our managed information will grow less valuable.
Managing business processes as assets will revitalize software growth and become a catalyst for innovative breakthroughs that yield disruptive growth curves.