01 February 2010

Communication Primitives - SHeet Music for IT Professionals - But what about the User?

Defense Systems recently published an article DOD turns to basic building blocks for a common language, that describes Business Transformation Agency's approach to overcoming the language barriers inherent in the system development process - Primitives.

Primitives are common vocabulary and common design patterns, which can be used to describe business processes, information and data in a notation. They are intended to be understandable to a wide variety of people involved in system development, much like sheet music provides a universal notation for musicians. This initiative supports the need to align all layers of the enterprise architecture with a common vocabulary or notation set, which is certainly an integral part to improving system development. In the US DOD the Business Transformation Agency (BTA) is using primitives for enterprise architecture, business process training and simulation.

It is time that greater commonality be found between the various disciplines related to system development and the concept of a global language for IT professionals is a great one. I like the analogy of the sheet music because it can be extended to the end user. In the case of music the end user does not need to be able to read sheet music to appreciate the output. This is also the case with IT outputs. In some cases the user reaction to the "music" is easy to gauge, kind of like a music single - iPhone apps, video games and to a certain extent office productivity tools. In other cases, like many enterprise systems, the "music" presented is more complex than an opera or the works of Greek bards like Homer and frequently this complexity is increased due to the intermixing and overlapping of various pieces. This may result in a user experience much like the one viewers were presented in Star Trek Next Generation when Data was listening to four songs at the same time.

This complexity makes it much harder to keep the focus of the user's attention. In the world of enterprise applications there is a need to be more proactive in gauging user reaction, not just to focus on function points but to the overall user experience. A need to strive to present "music" that they would sit down and listen to or get up and dance to - whichever they prefer.

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