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Individualized Behaviors, Social Dynamics and Collaboration

I was reading an article on Gartner’s “four disruptions that will transform the software industry“. While I was reading it occured to me that three of the four disruptors have the same core – there is a new type of user out there, and they are becoming more vocal about having more control over the tools and applications they use. As John and Claire-Marie Karat wrote in our article ”Affordances, Motivation and the Design of User Interfaces” – “There is a paradox in human behavior that is valuable for designers of applications to keep in mind: Everyone wants to be in control, but nobody wants to be controlled.” This basic truth is driving the “Rise in New Technologies and Convergence of Existing Technologies” disruptor especially around SOA, device portability and mashups. It is also driving the other two disruptors “Change in Software User and Support Demographics” and “Revolutionary Changes in Software and How it is Consumed”.

I think that everyting Gartner says is true – but it isn’t that futuristic – just extrapolating from the trends we are seeing now in early adopters. As William Gibson wrote “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed”.  What I think they are missing is that software is going to have to evolve to support a new type of work, not just a new type of worker. Most of todays packaged apps are around to support the highly strutured processes of the “old enterprise”- and I put BPM tools in that bucket. The next generation of enterprise software is going to have to provide much better support for knowledge work processes. Lotus Notes, MS SharePoint and Wikis are a start in providing support for collaboration – but not for the tacit interaction (or human processes) – which include individualized behaviour and social dynamics. Enterprises are going to need tools for the 80% of human centric business processes that are currently handled through ad-hoc use of email and documents – a Human Process Management System. As you know from my previous posts HPMS’ will be extensions of the way people use email and documents today as their basic framework for tacit interactions (or human processes) with a focus on traceability and flexibility rather than control.

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