Is Simple Good? or Is Simple Hard?

I remember from my days at IBM Research that Tony Temple was driving home the mantra that “Simple is Good” for IBM’s software and hardware – i.e. the simpler it is to use  technology, the better it is for eveyone.  If that was true (simple is really better for everyone) – then IBM wouldn’t have needed a VP going around and telling people that – they would would have known it themselves. Then it hit me – simple isn’t good for everyone. For some people (especially IT technologists) powerful beats simple. They want powerful tools, tools that let them the job done. They tend to like gadgets and features so for them simplicity takes at most second place (or maybe isn’t thought of at all as valuable). When you build tools for technologists powerful and complex beats simple every time.

For me that is what is happening right now in the BPMS world. For the technologists – BPMS need more power and complexity inorder to make it easier for technical people to handle the complexities of real world processes (e.g.BPMN 2.0 (and counting),  rules,  CEP). If BPM folks even think about simplicity, it is in the context of the end-user application that is the result of their use of a BPMS (though to be honest, I don’t think many BPMS powered applications would win any usability prizes).

But something has started to shift. As Sandy Kelmsley puts it “the blurring of the boundary between designing and participating in processes” is a trend happening now. I see that as one of the key drivers adaptive of case management (ACM). That means the ability to create and change processes is moving into the hands of everyday process owners (and users), no longer can it remain in the hands of technologists (the tradtional users of BPMS).  This is a radical shift, and I think people are underestimating how hard it will be (both from a cultural perspective and technical perspective) for BPM vendors to make this shift with their tools. As a technologist that has worked in usability for a long time I can tell you making things simple is much harder than making things complex, and that is the technologists collorary to the “Simple is Good” message – for a techologist “Simple is Hard”.


One Response to “Is Simple Good? or Is Simple Hard?”

  1. Tweets that mention Is Simple Good? or Is Simple Hard? | ActionBase Blog - Thoughts on Collaboration Process Management Unstructured Compliance and Audit -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by process2go, ActionBase. ActionBase said: Is Simple Good? or Is Simple Hard? – #BPM #casemanagement […]

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