Boost Your Data's Brains

Information technology managers have focused on empowering users by providing them with ever-more-powerful hardware and software over the past two decades. But loading users' desktops with applications has not made them more productive, Carl Frappaolo, executive vice president of the Delphi Consulting Group, told federal technology professionals Tuesday.

Instead, users find themselves inundated with information in a variety of formats.

Now technology managers must find ways to empower the information itself--not the users--so that data and documents can intelligently route themselves to users when and where they need it.

Speaking at a forum for federal IT managers in Arlington, Va., sponsored by PC Docs, a maker of document management software, Frappaolo said information systems professionals need to think first about the problems facing their organizations and their customers before they think about technology solutions.

"If you have a hammer in your hand, everything in the room starts to look like a nail," he said.

IT managers need to create a "business operating system" that organizes information according to the work needs of users, he said. Documents and data should be coded to match the way an office operates, so that they route themselves to the appropriate users at the appropriate times. An invoice, for example, should be coded to know that it is an invoice and know that if it is above a certain amount, it must go to a manager for approval. Once it is approved, it should know to go on to the accounts payable department for processing.

Empowering documents is the key to empowering users, Frappaolo said, though he noted it is difficult for people to change the way they think about technology. However, he warned that if they don't, users will continue to suffer.

Frappaolo cited a Reuters survey that found 94 percent of people don't think information technology is making their jobs easier and don't think it will any time soon.

"If we continue to look at information technology in the same way, it's not going to get any better," Frappaolo said.

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