Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Post-Industrial Computing

@miket0181 writes that "we are starting to see emergence of post-industrial computing, with fundamental impacts" and suggests that "enterprises should pay more attention to web2/cloud".

Here's his definition of post-industrial computing
  • Industrial computing = process > information > people > technology.
  • Post-industrial computing = people > information > process > technology
I think one of the characteristic features of industrial computing was an emphasis on the economics of scale. (Indeed, this is a general characteristic of industrialization, sometimes known as Fordism.) Champions of industrial computing (such as my old boss James Martin) paid close attention to the productivity and maturity of the IT department, and this led to the development of a range of development tools and platforms, from CASE to software factory, as well as the more recent emphasis on process management software.

@BergMart asks how many companies are still in Industrial Comp and how many in Post Industrial? My answer: many companies still haven't achieved industrial computing, at least if we look at the adoption of industrial computing tools and practices. (The practices are much more important than the tools, for two reasons. Firstly, the tools are a waste of money if you don't adopt the practices as well. Secondly, at least for small projects, you can often implement the practices without fancy tools.)

Is it possible to skip straight to post-industrial computing practices, or does this just result in some romanticized incompetence? (This question is superficially similar to the earlier debate about maturity levels - whether it is possible to jump to level 5 without passing through the intermediate levels.)

So we need to look in more detail at the characteristics of post-industrial computing: replacing the economics of scale with the economics of scope, along with Flexible Specialization. (See Wikipedia: Post-Fordism).

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