Showing posts with label Do-It-Yourself. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Do-It-Yourself. Show all posts

February 12, 2010

The Do It Yourself Future

Technology is the great emancipator. With it we can do things ourselves that we needed others to do for us before.

Of course, the examples are endless. As we approach tax season, just think how many people do their own taxes online with TurboTax or other online programs when before they needed an accountant to do it for them. Similarly, it was common to have secretaries supporting various office tasks and now we pretty much have all become our own desktop publishers and office productivity mavens. I remember having a graphics department years ago for creating presentations and a research department for investigating issues, events, people, and causes, now with all the productivity tools and the Internet, it’s all at our fingertips.

Wired Magazine, February 2010 in an article called “Atoms Are The New Bits” by Chris Anderson states that “the Internet democratized publishing, broadcasting, and communications, and the consequence was a massive increase in the range of participation and participants in everything digital.”

With technology, we are free to help ourselves. We are independent, self-sufficient, and that’s typically how we like it. And not only are we able to do for ourselves, but the barriers to entrance for entrepreneurs and small companies have come way down.

The author states: “In the age of democratized industry, every garage is a potential micro-factory, every citizen a potential entrepreneur.” Similarly, Cory Doctorow wrote in The Makers that “The days of General Electric, and General Mills, and General Motors are over. The money on the table…can be discovered and exploited by smart, creative people.”

We all know how Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, working out of a garage building computers, started Apple. Similarly, how Michael Dell started operations out of his dorm room. Nowadays, we see more and more people going out on their own as contract workers and as teleworkers, not tied to particular companies or work locations. They have been freed by technology to work for whom they want and where they want.

At the extreme and in certain cases, there is a perception that “working with a company often imposes higher transaction costs then running a project online…Companies are full of bureaucracy, procedures, and approval processes, a structure designed to defend the integrity of the organization...[instead] the new industrial organizational model [is] built around small pieces loosely joined. Companies are small virtual, and informal. Most participants are not employees. They form and re-form on the fly driven by ability and need rather than affiliation and obligation.”

While I do not believe that companies will be disadvantaged for large and complex projects like building a bridge or designing a new commercial airline, there is no doubt that technology is changing not only what we can do ourselves, but also how and when we associate ourselves with others. We can do work for ourselves or for others practically on the fly. We can communicate immediately and over long distances with ease. We can form relationships on social networks for specific tasks or as desired and then reorient for the next. There is a new flexibility brought about by a do it yourself culture facilitated with simple, affordable, and readily available technology, and this DIY phenomenon is only going to increase and accelerate as the technology advances further and further.

Some important implications are as follows:

  • One, we need to constantly look for cost-savings in the organization and at home from the new technologies that we are bringing online enabling us to do more ourselves—there are cost offsets for the support we needed before and no longer require.
  • Secondly, we need to encourage our employees to take advantage of the new technologies, to learn them, and use them to their utmost and not to fear them.
  • Thirdly, the next generation of workers is going to demand more flexibility, empowerment, and continued work-life balance based on their increasing ability to go it alone, if necessary.
  • Finally, new technologies that are user-centric—easy to use and useful—will outperform technologies that are overly complex and not intuitive; the new normal is do it yourself and technologies that don’t simply enable that will be finished.


September 24, 2007

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Application Development and Enterprise Architecture

The Wall Street Journal, 24 September 2007 reports that “new [DIY] tools let businesspeople avoid the IT department and create their own computer applications…and no knowledge of computer code is required.

How does this benefit users?

  • “Users say they are saving time and money by creating their own applications”
  • They “are able to build exactly what they want, without having to explain what their looking for to someone else.”
  • “Others like being able to wite programs that would have been too minor or personalized to bother the IT department with.”
  • “Adjusting DIY programs…can also be simpler than asking the IT department for program tweaks or updates.”

What are the downsides?

  • “There is some risk in the lack of a track recod for such companies [offering these DIY services], and in the possibility that a provider will fail, leaving its customers without access to the applications they developed online.”
  • “Some businesspeople may underestimate the effort required to write their own programs.”

Strangely enough, the article leaves out some of the biggest gaps with DIY application development, such as:

  • Approval by the organization’s IT governance to ensure that the ‘right’ projects are authorized, prioritized, funded and monitored for cost, schedule, and performance.
  • Compliance with an organization’s enterprise architecture to ensure such things as: business alignment, application interoperability and non-redundancy, technology standardization, information sharing, and strategic alignment to the target architecture and transition plan.
  • Assuring IT security of applications systems, including confidentiality, integrity, availability, and privacy.
  • Following a defined, repeatable, and measurable structured systems development life cycle (SDLC) approach to application development.

The WSJ article actually compares DIY application development to when businesspeople learned to create their own PowerPoints presentation rather than having to run to the graphics departments to build these for them.

While there may be a place for DIY application development for small user apps (similar to creating their own databases and presentations), from a User-centric EA perspective, we must be careful not to hurt the enterprise, in our efforts to empower the end-users. A balanced and thoughful approach is called for to meet user requirements (cost effectively and quickly), but at the same time protect enterprise assets, meet strategic goals, and assure overall governance of IT investments.