20. Dezember 2004

[ English , Intranets , Software ]

Central vs. Decentral - Interview with Ray Ozzie

Tom Austin, a Gartner Fellow has interviewed Ray Ozzie about collaborative software in enterprises.

There is an interesting discussion about centralisation and decentralisation:

What really does disappoint me is that we as technology users keep forgetting the lessons we learn; we've got very short memories. For example - issues of centralization versus decentralization, control versus empowerment. There's a pendulum that appears to keep swinging back and forth, and we keep polarizing the issue, when in fact we should have learned that both are necessary.
(Dave Pollard has written about this, in a more general business context.) (Blogged here.)
Then the Web happened, and suddenly — largely driven by lower deployment and maintenance costs — the browser is the answer to every question, whether it makes sense or not. Centralized control and lock-down becomes pervasive, as users lose control of their tools for reasons that are, in fact, quite sensible in many ways.

But then users start placing rogue WiFi access points on corporate networks. They use USB memory devices, smart phones and cameras to carry around documents and presentations. They post confidential information to public Web mail accounts to transfer files, because firewall security is so tight. They start bringing their personal home laptops into work and into meetings "so they can get work done".

The same edge-versus-center tension has happened in the realm of business solutions. The greatest amount of value that Lotus Notes ever provided, besides the email infrastructure, was as a rapid application development platform that people at the edge of the organization - in a business unit - could use to whip up an application that solved their problem instantly. Just-in-time, disposable solutions. (...)

Some problems are best solved centrally, others are best addressed locally. Enterprises have needs at the center; people and business units have needs at the edge. The smart CIO embraces both and understands how to weave the two together appropriately within their own environment.

It appears to me that I can use this model of central-vs-decentral or center-vs-edge to explain where Weblogs fit into the corporate IT toolset.

I just want to sketch the idea for now, I will come back to it later:

  • Group Weblogs can be used to create a center in a decentral space. Example: An ad-hoc team wants to create a feed to share project information.
  • Personal Weblogs are most useful at the edge, when information needs to be quickly captured and shared but no central system is available or the requirements for a system are not yet clear.

Need to run now - I might revise this post later. Feel free to comment anyway.

Via Volker Weber.


Hi Martin,

this is an important posting for me right now.....attaches to a lot of stuff I am thinking about the past days. Thanks. Hopefully the results will show up in my blog in the coming week. Once I get my brain organized.

Ton Zijlstra am 22.12.04 21:35 #